Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Work Support Strategies Initiative, 2010-2015

The Work Support Strategies (WSS) initiative provided a select group of states funding and technical assistance to design, test, and implement more effective, streamlined, and integrated approaches to delivering key supports (including health coverage, nutrition benefits, and child care subsidies) for low-income working families. The initiative, which wrapped-up in early 2016, was funded by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and JPMorgan & Chase Co. The combined resources were invested over a five-year period. WSS provided states the expert technical assistance, peer support, and financial backing needed to take their efforts to the next level. The initiative consisted of two phases: a one-year planning phase and a three-year implementation phase.

Koné Consulting provided technical assistance (TA) throughout the entire project, beginning with site selection prior to the planning phase. This included assisting with the initial call for interested states, review of applications and determining which states would participate. Nine states were represented in the planning phase, including Colorado, Kentucky, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina. The implementation phase included Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Technical assistance included: project management, conference planning and facilitation, monthly calls with states, customized leadership training, Lean/Kaizen events, coordinating site visits, quarterly reports, and communication with and among participating states.

The final evaluation, implementation, and technical reports indicate that the WSS initiative achieved the following outcomes:

  • Significant improvements in key outcomes, including participation in the full package of benefits without loss of accuracy.
  • Faster delivery of benefits. The average processing time for a SNAP application dropped from 2.4 to 1.6 days in Idaho, from 15.7 to 12.5 days in Illinois, from 10.2 to 5.3 days in Rhode Island, and from 21.0 to 17.3 days in South Carolina.
  • Increased SNAP and Medicaid/CHIP joint participation rates.
  • Reduction of “churn” (cycling on and off benefits).

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Work Support Strategies experience, including testimonials from states about their experience and lessons learned, please click on the provided links. Other reports and information can be found here.