UPI Taxonomy Image



Intake is the initial process of application, information gathering, outreach, and coordinating services to meet client needs, with the result of sometimes diverting them from TANF to other services altogether. Intake processes determine individuals' eligibility for services, frequently determining whether they are qualified for additional safety-net programs, such as Food Stamps or Medicaid. Diversion services target immediate TANF participant needs and provide short-term support designed to prevent long-term TANF involvement. Intake also includes a connection to child support enforcement, a vital aspect of ensuring children receive proper support, including financial and medical, from both parents.

As the first step in providing TANF services, intake is vital for serving clients, as well as for fulfilling and adhering to Federal mandates and guidelines. State and Federal regulations must be followed to determine eligibility of individuals and families to receive TANF services. The overall goal of the intake process is to gain information from clients in order to serve them, and use the State's resources as efficiently as possible to enable clients to become self-sufficient.

ACCESS Wisconsin


Program/Practice Name: ACCESS Wisconsin Agency Name: Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) Division of Health Care Financing

Contact Information:

ACCESS Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services Division of Health Care Financing 1 W. Wilson Street Madison, WI 53701 (800) 362-3002 https://access.wisconsin.gov/

Autumn Arnold (608) 266-0157 arnolad@dhfs.state.wi.us

Type of Program/Practice: ACCESS Wisconsin is a fast and easy-to-use Internet tool that can help individuals determine the low- or no-cost health, nutrition, and other subsidy programs for which they might be eligible.


Program/Practice Description: ACCESS Wisconsin also can be used to apply online for FoodShare, Medicaid/BadgerCare, and the Family Planning Waiver Program. Enrolled individuals also can obtain information on the status of their benefits for a number of programs, as well as report changes in income, expenses, and household composition online.

Innovations and Results: From the beginning of the initiative, DHFS worked with community partners and clients to develop a user-friendly tool. Through extensive use of focus groups, they were able to gain credibility not only among end users, but also among those responsible for developing the Web site. This level of understanding helped the team ensure that the end product met the needs of low-income Wisconsin residents. Although it was time consuming to engage community and client partners, the team built it into the development process, helping to shape the priorities for the infrastructure. In addition, the use of demonstration sites to pilot the program provided the team with readily available test sites and instantaneous feedback. There is also a dedicated Web page for community partners, providing a link to an online tutorial as well as informational and marketing materials.

Funding: So far, development of ACCESS has cost approximately $6 million. System maintenance likely will total $150,000 annually. The costs of the development and upgrades were funded jointly by the Food and Nutrition Service grant and the State. However, following the success of ACCESS, the State has provided funding for ongoing, incremental costs of maintenance and enhancements. The State also has hired a full-time, permanent outreach coordinator.


Tips to Implementation: Branding the tool and the resultant promotional materials have been extremely helpful in spreading the word about ACCESS. Agencies across the State are encouraging DHFS to produce publications at each phase of the project to help highlight the new capabilities. Marketing materials can be ordered by agencies and community partners online at no charge. They also are distributed at statewide coalition meetings, and DHFS is looking to connect with other groups, such as emergency rooms and Federal Qualified Health Centers, that have not been tied into the ACCESS system in the past.

Keys to Success: During the tool design phase, several decisions proved to be key to the success of ACCESS:

  • All materials are written at a fourth grade reading level. This style and the ample use of graphics make it easy to use for those who may be less familiar with Web applications or have difficulty reading.
  • The screening tool should take a maximum of 15 minutes; the application should take between 30 and 40 minutes. This time limit was based specifically on focus group feedback and how long clients are willing to spend on various activities.
  • The screening tool does not ask which public assistance programs the individual would like to screen for. The resulting eligibility list is based simply on the needs that arise through the applicant's answers. The purpose of this is to connect clients to benefits for which they may not know they were eligible.

Successes: A strong link was deliberately established between the State's electronic case management system, CARES, and ACCESS. This allows for a better flow of information between the applicant and the caseworker and should significantly reduce the need for data entry.

Challenges: With 72 counties and seven tribes responsible for implementing the program, there are often vast differences in the manner in which business is conducted. At the same time that DHFS launched ACCESS, the electronic case file system was put in place, further complicating implementation. Some sites have had little difficulty integrating the new practices, while others have struggled with adapting. DHFS has sent technical assistance consultants to help with issues as they arise. Team members also participate monthly in the Income Maintenance Advisory Committee, using it as a forum to address issues and share best practices, as well as gain credibility and buy-in from staff across the State.

Other Lessons Learned: Live demonstrations were critical in the early stages of implementation. However, as the project has continued, DHFS has become more selective in how it uses face-to-face resources. DHFS continues to visit programs to encourage ACCESS use, providing a quick demonstration, and an online tutorial is available for partners. Secondly, DHFS seems to be losing some potential clients between application and enrollment, which may be in part due to the requirement that applicants provide supporting documentation either through the mail or in person. The State is able to verify some information through data exchanges with other systems, including Social Security and Child Support. Other options, such as scanning, are being considered for documentation submission.


The following tools are associated with Access Wisconsin. Please send us an email at upitoolkit@blhtech.com for more information about these tools.

Short Introduction to ACCESS PowerPoint Presentation

Am I Eligible Fact Sheet

Apply for Benefits Fact Sheet

Check My Benefits Fact Sheet

Business Card – English

Business Card – Spanish

ACCESS Overview Flyer

Participant Information Brochure – English

Participant Information Brochure – Spanish

ACCESS Poster – English

ACCESS Poster – Spanish

Similar Types of Programs:

Access Florida

A growing number of States have implemented online applications. ACCESS Florida, which uses different software and a different business model than Wisconsin's ACCESS program, is another example of an online self-service tool.

ACCESS (Automated Community Connection to Economic Self-Sufficiency) cuts the processing time required for three economic assistance programs administered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF):

  • Medicaid
  • Food Stamps
  • Temporary Cash Assistance

In addition to the traditional methods of applying by mail or fax, ACCESS Florida allows individuals to check eligibility and apply online through www.myflorida.com/accessflorida.

In addition, all local DCF customer service centers provide Internet access so individuals can apply online. It takes an average of 30 minutes to complete the application.

ACCESS Florida services 1.2 million Food Stamp households, 70,000 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families families, and 1.7 million Medicaid recipients. More than 90 percent of all applications are now received online. As a result, the State has been able to reduce staff, saving $83 million annually in administrative costs.

Florida's ACCESS program was named a winner of the Innovations in American Government Award on September 24, 2007, from the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

Diversionary Work Program


Program/Practice Name: Diversionary Work Program (DWP)

Agency Name: Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department

Contact Information:

John Mbali Program Manager Eligibility Determination Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department Century Plaza 1111 South 3rd Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55404 Phone: (612) 348-8188 john.mbali@co.hennepin.mn.us

Type of Program/Practice: DWP is a 4-month program that provides assistance to eligible families to help them go to work rather than go on welfare.


Program/Practice Description: In 2003, the Minnesota State Legislature established this short-term, work-focused program. DWP provides front-end employment services designed to move participants directly to work and divert families from applying for the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), the State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Approximately half of the families that apply for cash assistance participate in DWP. The primary goal of DWP is to provide short-term benefits and intensive work supports to increase families' self-sufficiency. Additionally, DWP looks to quickly identify and address barriers that may hinder a participant's job prospects. Parents are expected to develop and sign an employment plan prior to program acceptance. After the plan has been signed, they receive financial assistance as well as other supports such as Food Stamps, child care, health care, and all the benefits they would have been entitled to under MFIP. A family can receive DWP for at most 4 months over a 12-month period. These 4 months do not count toward the 60-month TANF lifetime limit. Following the 4 months, if a family has not secured employment, they have to apply to be transferred to MFIP. Participants unlikely to benefit from DWP are referred to MFIP and their grant award is adjusted accordingly.

Innovations and Results: DWP is a system-wide diversion program. By providing intensive job search and work supports, the 4-month program encourages eligible families to work instead of go on welfare. The expectation of the program is that it is interactive and clients are not simply collecting cash assistance. By connecting them to work while concurrently meeting their other basic needs, DWP better equips clients as they strive to become self-sufficient.

Operations: In what can amount to a 4-6 hour process, potential clients complete a screening form, and if qualified, are sent to the DWP team. Clients then complete and discuss the application with a human services representative (HSR). At this point, clients also receive an orientation to DWP. HSR workers spend about an hour and a half with each client reviewing the documents they need and preparing a check list for each client to assist in verification. After verifications are completed, clients are referred to and meet with an employment service provider (ESP) within 10 days of being found eligible.

There are five ESPs across Hennepin County; four are under contract through the vocational rehabilitation nonprofit, Employment Action Center. An ESP case manager works with the client to develop an employment plan. This plan is work-focused and requires a minimum of 35 hours be spent on either work or work search. An assessment of the individual is completed by the employment specialist and the plan addresses these identified strengths and needs, such as ESL training. The specialist also immediately connects the client to such necessary services as transportation and child care.

During the program, clients attend job club, participating in a highly structured environment centered on connecting to work. In addition, they attend workshops, develop resumes and applications, and practice interviewing skills. Classroom instruction also allows individuals to share concerns, provide support, and exchange job opportunities, in addition to learning important skills. ESPs provide access to computer labs where clients can search and apply for jobs. Clients are required to complete a detailed activity log to track how they spend their time. Clients also receive transportation vouchers to help them attend classes and job interviews, as well as a small amount in program funds to purchase interview clothes or tools for the job.

Additional Information: Once a plan is signed, benefits are issued within one business day and are based on the size of the family, the family's needs, and countable income. Families enrolled in DWP are eligible for government supports, with the program providing assistance with rent and utilities. These expenses are vendor paid, with a maximum award of $437 for a family of two. Once a DWP grant amount is determined, increases in income generally will not decrease the amount of the benefit. The family also is given child care assistance and a personal needs allowance of up to $70 if there are residual funds. Families must cooperate with their employment plan and child support requirements. If they do not, their case will be closed and they will not be eligible for any other cash programs until their four months of DWP time has expired. However, disqualification does not affect the participant's food support or health care benefits.


Tips to Implementation: The philosophy of the program is for clients to succeed; specifically, to obtain a job and be able to support themselves and their families without relying on public assistance. During orientation, HSR workers stress that clients will receive help with basic needs and securing employment, emphasizing what this additional assistance can do in terms of the monthly budget. Many clients are there because of job loss and are struggling to make ends meet while relying on savings and are encouraged by this approach. Additionally, the one-on-one attention from both the HSR and the ESP reinforces the work-first message and shows the commitment they have to connecting clients to work.

Keys to Success: Coordination between HSRs and ESPs has improved dramatically. As opposed to meeting within 30 days as required under the TANF legislation, clients now meet with their employment specialist within 10 days. Although this is mandated within the statute, it is facilitated by the fact that the HSR schedules the appointment, sometimes while the client is still in the office. Additionally, both departments share the same case management system, TEAMS, allowing them to share issues about the client directly through the case file.

Successes: Since July 2004, an average of 500 families have applied for DWP each month.

  • Four hundred of these families meet with an employment counselor to develop an employment plan.
  • Within the 4-month program, 58 percent of families begin employment, with an average wage of $10.52 per hour.
  • Approximately 42 percent of all families that leave DWP after the 4 months are diverted from applying for MFIP.

Challenges: Because DWP clients are not enrolled in the State's TANF program, their work participation is not counted in the State's rate in either the numerator or the denominator. In addition, the 32 vendors that work with the MFIP population have raised the concern that DWP is "creaming off" those who are ready and able to work, leaving those with greater barriers. However, given the reduced rolls, they likely have additional time to work with these clients one on one.

  • A number of pregnant women enroll in DWP. As they are not eligible for MFIP, the employment specialist must help connect them to activities that are appropriate and will help them prepare for life after the birth of their child, such as parent education classes and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
  • In some cases, 4 months does not seem to be enough time to connect a client to work. Some clients and staff think there would be increased benefits with a 6-month program. At times, it is difficult to obtain all the verification documents necessary for a referral to the ESP. This is especially true for securing out-of-state birth certificates. Also, sanctions can play a significant role, as it may be difficult for a client to get back into compliance given the relatively short time limit of the program.


The following tools are associated with Diversionary Work Program. Please send us an email at upitoolkit@blhtech.com for more information about these tools.

DWP New Staff Training PowerPoint

DWP/MFIP Screening Questions

DWP Employment Service Providers

DWP/MFIP Screening Questions

Facts on Voluntarily Quitting Your Job If You Are on Food Support

Hennepin Human Services and Public Health Department General Information

Medical Assistance May Pay for Insurance Through Your Employer

Minnesota Department of Human Services Domestic Violence Information

Self-Administered Alcohol and Drug Screening Test

Activity Log

DWP Allowable Work Activities

DWP Child Care Questions and Answers

DWP Important Questions and Answers

DWP Self-Appraisal Form

DWP Two-Parent Household Questions and Answers

DWP Unlikely to Benefit/Excluded Form

Good Cause Reasons for Not Cooperating with Employment Services

MFIP/DWP Employment Plan

The following packets are given to clients when they meet with an HSR and an ESP respectively:

Human Services Packet

Employment Services Packet

Family Services Team (FST)


Program/Practice Name: Family Services Team (FST)1

Agency Name: El Paso County (Colorado) Department of Human Services Office of Employment and Family Support

Contact Information: Rick Bengtsson, richardbengtsson@elpasoco.com (719)444-5535

Type of Program/Practice: FST works collaboratively to provide financial and support services through child only grants for relative caregivers.

1 FST formerly was known as the Family Support Team. The name change took effect in 2007 when FST was put under the administration of the Office of Employment and Family Support.


Program/Practice Description: FST provides financial eligibility and casework services to relative caregivers with a focus on the family as a whole. This team identifies and supports the needs of child only cases in line with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) objectives, and uses TANF funds to provide prevention and supportive services to these families. The goal is to help connect relative caregivers with the support and services they need before they have to enter into the child welfare system, which can be time-consuming and more intrusive. Kinship services provided by FST include a TANF child only payment, Medicaid for the child, special funding for specific financial needs on a case-by-case basis, subsidized permanent custody, and other supportive services as needed. FST also operates the Warm Line, which individuals can call to obtain information on available resources or talk to caseworkers or a grandparent advocate. In addition, FST facilitates three biweekly support groups that are designed to offer education and emotional support for grandparents. One of the support group facilitators is under contract through the Department of Human Services in collaboration with Community Partnership for Child Development (Head Start) and the other two are community-based facilitators.

Innovations and Results: This program is unique in that it works to address the needs of relative caregivers using TANF funds before they have to enter into the formal child welfare system. This program is an example of the service integration focus of El Paso County Human Services. Service integration of child welfare and TANF has:

  • Reduced the number of families on welfare without using punitive approaches;
  • Reduced the number of children and youth in foster care; and
  • Increased the safety of children.

Coordinating child welfare caseworkers with TANF technicians gives families access to a broader array of services and resources for both TANF and child welfare. As a result, FST is better able to serve high-need clients through service integration and meets requirements of multiple programs through one case plan.

Funding: The program provides supportive services, above basic cash assistance, to grandparents raising grandchildren or caregivers raising relative children. The strategy is to have caseworkers and technicians evaluate a family's needs and provide financial assistance accordingly, instead of giving caregivers a set amount of money every month.

Staffing: FST was one of the first blended staff units at El Paso County Department of Human Services. It is composed of a supervisor, one child welfare caseworker experienced with working with families to provide supportive services, a grandparent advocate, and four TANF technicians with financial program experience focusing on self-sufficiency. The grandparent/relative advocate provides families with referrals to community resources and helps them navigate through the human services, school and mental health systems. The advocate provides outreach, speaking at human services agencies in the community sharing information about this program and how we might benefit their clients.


Tips to Implementation: Service integration of child support, adult programs, and child only cases has allowed the program to serve the family as a whole and provide services to families based on their needs. Also, co-locating caseworkers with TANF technicians increased coordination and collaboration to serve families more effectively and efficiently. FST has worked in collaboration with other programs in the division to preserve flexibility and address the needs of clients working toward the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency.

Keys to Success:

  • Using block grant money has enabled the division to use funds for preventive programs and more flexible support and services.
  • Once this program was operational, a brochure was created and distributed throughout the division and to the public so people were aware of the services offered by FST. Quarterly newsletters are sent via e-mail or letter mail to grandparents and relative caregivers in the community who have been served by FST; the mailing list contains approximately 1,200 households.
  • Flexibility in the program has been critical. The program was designed to use services to address the specific needs of clients and does not have a list of procedures and processes for staff.
  • Emphasis is placed on the division working as a whole to achieve its mission "to strengthen families, assure safety, promote self-sufficiency, and improve the quality of life" in the community.


  • Reporting: Since FST provides such diverse services, it is difficult to report on the services provided and document outcomes as a result of FST activities.
  • Staffing: Managing a growing caseload and providing adequate staffing continue to be challenges.


The following tools are associated with Family Services Team (FST). Please send us an email at upitoolkit@blhtech.com for more information about these tools.

TANF and Child Welfare Service Integration Fact Sheet

Family Services Team Relative Caregivers How To: (and Other Helpful Hints)

El Paso County Department of Human Services MOU - Kinship Family Assessment and Family Services Team

Kinship Unit Facts

Kinship Unit Information Sheet

Job Ready State Diversion Program


Program/Practice Name: Job Ready State Diversion Program

Agency Name: Denver (Colorado) Human Services, Division of Workforce Development (DHS/DWD)

Contact Information:

Curt Pesicka Manager of Operations Office of Economic Development, Division of Workforce Development 1200 Federal Blvd. Denver, CO 80204 Phone: (720) 944-2736 Fax: (720) 944-4131 curt.pesicka@denvergov.org

Type of Program/Practice: The Job Ready State Diversion Program provides job-ready individuals with short-term, non-recurrent cash assistance for their immediate needs and other supportive services to become employed or remain employed without having to remain on basic cash assistance with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.


Program/Practice Description: The goal of the program is to provide participants with a strategic alternative to ongoing basic cash assistance. Although it is a voluntary program, job-ready TANF applicants are strongly encouraged to consider diversion versus going on long-term cash assistance.

Innovations and Results: Many applicants are in need of short-term cash assistance to become stabilized and prevent them from having to enter into the TANF program. Over the past four years Denver County has averaged seven State Diversion payments per month. The average diversion payment is $2,011. Recidivism is generally lower for State Diversion applicants. Work participation has increased as a result of diversion. This is done in two ways:

  • Lowering the caseload denominator of those subject to work participation requirements.
  • Focusing staff and resources to assist less job-ready individuals with multiple challenges to participation and employment.

Operations: All recipients of TANF benefits will complete a Job Readiness questionnaire as a part of orientation for the Workforce Development program. Each participant will also complete a Work Readiness Profiler assessment during a one-on-one meeting with the Workforce Development staff who will determine if the individual is a good candidate for State Diversion.


Tips to Implementation: Diversion candidates are identified as a priority and are to have their case processed within established time frames that allow the TANF participant to quickly move from ongoing basic cash assistance to a lump sum payment that affords them the flexibility to meet their immediate needs and not have to remain on long-term assistance. Flexibility in the diversion program has been critical. TANF regulations allow counties in Colorado to tailor the program to the community's needs. Therefore, communities should determine what they are trying to accomplish with diversion and develop the program accordingly. In this case, State Diversion was used to stabilize the immediate needs of individuals before they have to enter into long-term cash assistance.

Keys to Success: The key to a successful diversion program with low recidivism rates is targeting the appropriate individuals—those who are job-ready and in need of short-term assistance to meet their immediate needs. By providing these individuals with the assistance they need, more intensive case management services and workforce activities can focus on helping individuals who are not job-ready become so.

Challenges: One of the biggest challenges has been targeting the appropriate candidates for diversion. As a result, the program has spent a lot of time and effort analyzing and revising the Customer Job Readiness questionnaire and Work Readiness Profiler assessment to ensure appropriate candidates are reached.


The following tools are associated with Job Ready State Diversion Program. Please send us an email for more information about these tools.

Diversion Matrix

Used to determine the level of monitoring a client will require

Colorado Works (TANF) State & County Diversion Program

Two fact sheets provide basic information about the State and county diversion programs

State Diversion Pilot Interim Report

Provides a brief summary of the elements of the State Diversion Pilot Program and interim findings

Denver County Department of Human Services

Document sets out the official policy of the State Diversion Program

Colorado Works (TANF) Service Delivery Structure Denver County

Flow chart shows the intake process and how the State Diversion Program fits into Colorado Works

State Diversion Form and Intake Packet

Papers a diversion candidate must complete before authorization

Flow Charts

Indicates the various ways an individual can be directed to diversion

Customer Job Readiness Assessment

Determines whether a TANF applicant is job ready

Job Ready State Diversion Program

Basic statistics

New Jersey's Kinship Navigator Program


Program/Practice Name: New Jersey's Kinship Navigator Program

Agency Name: New Jersey Department of Children and Families

Contact Information:

Diana Kelley Regional Coordinator Kinship Navigator Program New Jersey Department of Children and Families 50 East State Street P.O. Box 717 Trenton, NJ 08625 (609) 888-7398 diana.kelley@dcf.state.nj.us

Type of Program/Practice: The Kinship Navigator program partners with 211, a Human Services Directory for all of New Jersey, to provide services to relative caregivers. Relative caregivers can call this hotline to make an application for services with the Kinship Navigator program and to receive information and referral for other services throughout New Jersey.


Program/Practice Description: The Kinship Navigator program was developed to provide linkages to government and community resources for relative caregivers. This toll–free service (211) helps relative caregivers identify available resources and advocates on their behalf to access those services. In addition, the program helps administer support programs created specifically for kinship caregivers, including cash assistance, child care subsidies, and wraparound services.

Background/Program History: The first programs New Jersey implemented were the Kinship Child Care Subsidy Program and the Kinship Wraparound Program. Caregivers younger than age 60 and working, preparing for work or disabled need to meet the income limit of 350% of the Federal poverty level. Caregivers age 60 or older need to meet the income limit of 500% of the Federal poverty level.

Later, New Jersey passed legislation called Kinship Legal Guardianship specifying that relative caregivers must have the child residing with them for at least 1 year. The court makes the ultimate decision on the placement in the best interest of the child and the relative becomes the legal guardian of the child upon approval. Legal guardianship is unique because it transfers some parental rights to caregivers without terminating all biological parental rights. Legal guardianship, as opposed to adoption, allows caregivers to access services for the child, provide a more permanent plan for the child, and access the kinship subsidy to offset the financial costs associated with raising a child.

Innovations and Results: Relative caregivers who are eligible to have legal guardianship also qualify to receive the kinship care subsidy; however, they must be below 150 percent of the Federal poverty level and not be involved with the Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). This subsidy includes $250 a month and Medicaid benefits. Other caregivers have access to additional services through the Kinship Navigator program. Also, New Jersey has a subsidy program through Child Protective Services, which is available to relative caregivers of children placed in their homes by DYFS. These grandparents receive a monthly support payment for up to 15 months. The caregiver must cooperate with the permanency plan, which may include adoption, legal guardianship, legal custody, or a return home.


Support Services Available:

  • Help paying for child care
  • Referrals to grand–parenting and family support groups
  • Help obtaining medical coverage and services
  • Assistance with child support collection
  • Housing assistance
  • Help paying for legal services and fees
  • Help paying for furniture (for example, a bed, computer, or computer supplies for the child)
  • Tutoring services for the children in care
  • Help paying for summer camp for the child
  • Financial services


"There are no tools associated with this program."

No Wrong Door


Program/Practice Name: No Wrong Door (NWD)

Agency Name: Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS)

Contact Information: Stacy McQuillin Project Manager Louisiana Department of Social Services (225) 342-5573 smcquill@dss.state.la.us http://www.dss.state.la.us/index.cfm?md=sitesearch&tmp=home&keyword=no%20wrong%20door&startIndex=1

Type of Program/Practice: In its pilot stages, NWD allows clients to access intake materials and receive intake assistance to any DSS program through any of the DSS agencies.


Program/Practice Description: NWD emerged from a 2003 Louisiana legislative act, with the goal of improving client services with access to multiple State agency assistance programs through a single point of entry, integrated screening and referral, and multiagency case management. NWD is being piloted in a limited capacity within DSS in two parishes. Program goals are supported by the development of the ACESS (A Comprehensive Enterprise Social Service System) electronic case management system.

Innovations and Results: At DSS entry points (Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, Office of Community Services, Office of Family Support) or through the online tool, clients expressing interest can be screened for eligibility for Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and cash assistance, child care assistance, and Medicaid. If the screening occurs at a DSS facility, staff must offer to make appointments with agencies supporting identified needs. A new document scanning project, being piloted in one parish, allows staff within each of the three DSS agencies to view a client's submitted documentation to reduce the collection of duplicative information and documents. DSS staff receive broad cross-training on the functions and rules of DSS agencies.


Tips to Implementation: NWD represents a philosophy shift and an ambitious objective of synchronizing intake, referral, and case management processes of many State agencies. Louisiana has started this process incrementally, beginning with DSS and two pilot parishes.

Keys to Success:

  • Staff cross-training to understand the services offered by affiliated agencies.
  • Supportive technology (ACESS), which allows comprehensive screening and will support any future multidisciplinary team case management.

Challenges: When implementing a similar model, agencies should consider the ability and limits of agencies to share data under Federal law and the limited funding options for collaborative interagency efforts due to restrictions on uses of Federal program dollars.


The following tools are associated with No Wrong Door. Please send us an email for more information about these tools.

Select Needed Services

Survey for clients and caseworkers to locate supportive services

Screening Tool

Used to help determine comprehensive eligibility and identify multiple social services

Staff Orientation 2007

Cross-training materials and policy handbook

Information Sharing Report

2011 update on the "One DCFS Transformation Project"

Louisiana Neighborhood Place Business Plan

A "one stop shop" that allows the State and community partners to provide comprehensive services to citizens

Relative Caregiver Program (RCP)


Program/Practice Name: Relative Caregiver Program (RCP)

Agency Name: Tennessee Department of Children's Services

Contact Information:

Carla Aaron Executive Director, Child Safety Tennessee Department of Children's Services 436 Sixth Avenue North Nashville, TN 37243 Phone: (615) 741-8278 Carla.Aaron@tn.gov

Betty Smith Program Coordinator, Relative Caregiver Program Tennessee Department of Children's Services 436 Sixth Avenue North Nashville, TN 37243 Phone: (615) 253-2397 Betty.Smith@tn.gov

Type of Program/Practice: RCP is a public/private collaboration designed to support children who are not able to be raised by their parents and are being cared for by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other extended family members.


Program/Practice Description: The Relative Caregiver Program (RCP) was developed with the guiding principle that in general, abused or neglected children are best served by living with another family member, rather than by going into foster care. To qualify for RCP, a relative caregiver must be related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption; live in the areas that the program serves; and live below 200 percent of the Federal poverty guideline. The project began as a pilot in 2001, and then became a formal program in 2004. RCP has specific outcomes that must be met each year, including requirements such as 50 percent of referrals originating from the Department of Children's Services (DCS), the Department of Health Services, or juvenile court, and 80 percent of families progressing to independence.

Background/Program History: RCP is funded completely by the State, with a budget of around $4 million. In an innovative use of funds, RCP provides support services, including emergency or start-up financial assistance if a caregiver meets the requirements. Also under these support services, RCP provides material assistance for essential items such as beds, clothing, and household appliances through donations or direct purchases when needed. Over the course of the program, RCP allocation of money has changed in response to funding and needs. RCP has shifted additional program dollars toward disseminating information on the support services to reach more eligible families.

Innovations and Results: Instead of providing ongoing daily service delivery, the Department of Children's Services (DCS) contracts with private community agencies to provide support services across the state. Not only does this outsourcing save the State staff time and resources, but also these community agencies are often viewed more positively by the families seeking services and the public at large. To support the private agencies in operating the RCP program, DCS provides training, monitoring, group meetings, and technical assistance. During 2010 year, the RCP served 3901 children and 2618 caregivers statewide. One of the state's required outcomes for the RCP program is that 85 percent of children participating in the program remain in the continuous care of the caregiver; as a result, less than 5 percent of children from the RCP program have entered state custody. By offering supportive services, RCP helps to keep families intact.


Tips to Implementation: When implementing this type of program, States should consider:

  • Working with local service groups to outsource and deliver needed services to youth and families, both for cost-effective reasons and for credibility.
  • Developing partnerships and collaborations between State and local, as well as between community and faith-based, organizations.
  • Form a statewide leadership committee. Tennessee started a statewide kinship committee composed of legislators, caregivers, social workers, State government department leaders, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, and other community leaders. This committee later merged with the State mandated Community Advisory Boards (CABs) to better utilize the time and resources of the shared members.

Keys to Success:

  • Partnerships and collaborations between State and local, as well as between community and faith-based organizations, are a hallmark of RCP. For example, in Nashville, the groups involved in RCP met with community and faith-based organizations to map the services offered to youth and families to learn where their strengths and gaps were. Such collaboration is often new and results in better alignment of services for these youth and families.

Successes: The major success of this program is increasing family stability and preventing children from coming into State custody. RCP promotes greater community buy-in and support for at-risk children and families. Further, RCP encourages collaborations at many levels. RCP represents not just a highly successful client model, but also a program with significant savings of State dollars. For example, without this program, children possibly would be child protective referrals, which is significantly more expensive for the State than the RCP program.


The following tools are associated with Relative Caregiver Program (RCP). Please send us an email at upitoolkit@blhtech.com for more information about these tools.

Relative Caregiver Brochure

Explains the process of becoming a family caregiver and introduces the Relative Caregiver Program

Relative Caregiver Program Newsletter

Publication with resources and important information for the Tennessee relative caregiver network

Wake County Human Services


Program/Practice Name: Wake County Human Services

Contact Information:

Linda M. Bauer Program Manager Wake County Human Services 2220 Swinburne Street Raleigh, NC 27620 (919) 212-7222 lbauer@wakegov.com


Program/Practice Description: By co-locating Work First case managers and Qualified Professionals in Substance Abuse (QPs), Wake County Human Services is able to provide integrated and continuous care to individuals who may require substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Innovations and Results: At Wake County Human Services, QPs are housed with Work First staff. Work First customers meet with Work First case managers who then refer the clients to QPs for screening. QPs have designated time slots for assessment each week and try to make appointments with clients within the same week. There are two full-time QPs at each facility as well as treatment providers located on the same campus. Work First job counselors and case managers provide follow-up.

Partnerships: Work First and mental health/substance abuse treatment staff participate in monthly Work First Steering Committee meetings and supportive team staff meetings. Through partnerships with Job Link, Wake County Business Advisory Council, and employers, clients are assisted with obtaining job readiness skills. Wake County Human Services also provides transportation assistance through vendors, bus passes, and gas cards. Child care is an available resource for Work First customers and can be utilized contingent on clients' needs to become job ready.


Tips to Implementation: Challenges that Wake County Human Services have encountered include increasing collaboration and communication between QPs and Work First staff, and coordinating authorization processes and other reform-generated administrative procedures. Mental health reform currently does not provide sufficient funding and administrative mechanisms to pay private agencies for the time needed to provide their services in that manner. However, critical to Wake County Human Services' success in overcoming some of these challenges have been the co-location and integration of staff across welfare, mental health, and substance abuse to form one team mutually responsible for the same clients. Wake County has been purposeful in maintaining this program within the larger integrative efforts of the agency, with successful results.

Keys to Success:

  • Integrated services with Work First case managers, QPs, and mental health providers co-located
  • Staff part of one team with mutual responsibility for clients
  • Policies implemented by Work First, such as mandatory screenings, appointments with QPs, follow-up sessions with QPs, and required follow-ups
  • Commitment to reducing/limiting the number of steps between assessment and service to make it easier for clients


"There are no tools associated with this program."