Urban Institute-led project helps states to improve access to work support programs

Kresge among the funders supporting effort aimed reducing bureaucracy and aiding families.

April 07, 2013

Nine states are working to modernize and improve access to their social safety-net programs for eligible low-income families under an effort of the Washington-based Urban Institute.

For instance, state and county staff in Colorado trimmed an application for Medicaid, food assistance and other programs from 26 pages to six pages. And a new certification system in South Carolina has helped sustain health coverage for tens of thousands of children and is expected to save $1 million a year.

The Work Support Strategies project seeks to:

  • Increase the share of eligible families receiving public benefits for which they qualify.
  • Minimize the related administrative burden.
  • Disseminate the lessons learned to other federal and state officials.

The ultimate goal is to address the fact that many parents work, yet earn too little to make ends meet. The project builds on research underscoring the value to work and child development when families get the full package of help available, including health insurance, nutrition assistance, and child care subsidies. 

Kresge’s Human Services provided $1 million for the three-year project that began last year. The Human Services Program invests in organizations working on new approaches to problems that limit opportunities for vulnerable, disadvantaged and low-income individuals and families.  

The project is directed by the Urban Institute in partnership with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which leads technical assistance to the states. States participating in the planning year received $250,000 grants each, plus individualized consultations, training, and technical assistance. During the three-year implementation phase, the annual grants range from $400,000 to $500,000.

In addition to Colorado and South Carolina, Work Support Strategies is working with Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Rhode Island.

Read the report in the library.