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How to maintain a successful FSS program: Tip #3

Patti Zatarian-Menard on the FSS programTip #3: Have a service delivery design in place for your FSS program.

To create a service delivery design, you need to write one or two brief, clear, descriptive paragraphs about each of the activities in your program. Common activities in a service delivery design include:

Outreach. State how outreach will be conducted and provide information on the specifics. For example, "We are going to complete our outreach with posters, flyers, a speakers' bureau, and a script that our rent specialists use to talk to our clients each time they do a recertification."

Describe in detail the information that will be included on the posters, flyers, and script, as well as what the speakers' bureau will discuss, where the posters and flyers will be placed and distributed, and how often the script will be used and speaking engagements will be scheduled. State where in the files the relevant materials can be found.

Orientation. Describe how often orientations are held, where they're held, how long they last, the agenda, whether there are any handouts, and whether you'll give out FSS applications. If your orientation will include a PowerPoint presentation, or if you have a script, include this in your description. Also, be sure to reference where all orientation materials can be found.

Needs assessment. If you choose to do informal and formal assessments at your housing authority, simply describe what they consist of. For example, "Our participants come in individually and meet with the FSS coordinator for approximately an hour to go through their current situation, their past history, and to discuss what they would like to gain from the FSS program."

Describe where you'll put data from the assessment (on a intake form or assessment form) and where it will be kept. If you're doing formal assessments in partnership with a community college, workforce career center, or another expert group in your community, describe how that's done. Are you busing people to the career center? Are you meeting them there? Are they going on their own? How long does it take? What's completed, and what documentation comes back?

Contracting. If you choose to do contracting, your description should be similar to that of the needs assessment. Include information on whether families come in individually or in groups, what you discuss with regard to the contracting, what's done, and how long it takes.

Case management / service coordination. How often you meet with people, whether they call in or you meet them in the community, how long the meeting takes, what's covered, what you document at those meetings, and where the files can be found. Some agencies also do workshops or have partners come in and offer GED classes — any activity done in close collaboration with the housing authority should be described here.

Completion. Do you have a graduation? Is there a one-on-one ceremony? Do you present families with the escrow check in a meeting before the commissioners? If the family is terminating (either because of them or you), what steps does your PHA follow?

The NMA Model Family Self-Sufficiency Action Plan includes some additional ideas for services that can be part of your service delivery design. Keep in mind that some descriptions of services are required by regulation, but a good service delivery design consists of more than what's required in the plan and should be treated as a stand-alone document.

Next: How to maintain a successful FSS program: Tip #4

In her capacity with the San Diego Housing Commission, NMA Senior Associate Trainer Patti Zatarain-Menard designed, developed, and implemented one of the nation’s largest and most successful family self-sufficiency programs. For the past two decades, she has worked with Nan McKay and Associates conducting training seminars nationally and undertaking consulting assignments on federally subsidized housing.