Summarizes the lessons learned from the nine planning grant states under the Work Support Strategies (WSS), a multiyear initiative to help selected states test and implement more effective and integrated approaches to delivering key work supports, including health coverage, nutrition benefits, and child care subsidies.

“In 2011, nine states—Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, and Rhode Island—received one-year planning grants under the Work Support Strategies (WSS) initiative to help them improve their systems for connecting low-income families to work support benefits. These planning grants were the first phase of WSS, a multiyear initiative to help selected states test and implement more effective and integrated approaches to delivering key work supports, including health coverage, nutrition benefits, and child care subsidies. The idea behind the project was that more streamlined and modernized processes could help low-income working families get and keep the full package of work support benefits for which they are eligible...This report summarizes the lessons learned from the nine planning grant states, just one year into a four-year project” (p.5). (Abstractor: Author).

Full Publication Title: Early Lessons from the Work Support Strategies Initiative: Planning and Piloting Health and Human Services Integration in Nine States 


Major Findings & Recommendations

• “As illustrated earlier, “planning” was an incomplete description of what happened during this first year of the initiative. The states also acted, implementing new ideas that affected tens of thousands of people (p. 60)…At the same time, their ambitious action plans laid out many more ideas to be carried out over the next three years. States credited the planning period with allowing them to step back, rethink future directions, reboot stuck relationships, and build the human and intellectual capacity to handle the challenges and opportunities ahead” (p.60). • “Front and center among these challenges and opportunities is health reform. Even though the six implementation phase states have very different political stances on the optional elements of health reform (in particular, the Medicaid expansion and the state vs. federal operation of the exchange), they all are seizing the opportunity for health and human services agencies to plan jointly for streamlined, no-touch processes and to finance improved eligibility systems that serve both departments” (p.60). • “The reflections of state leaders on the planning year suggest that in a turbulent and emergency-driven context, even modest financial investments can raise the likelihood of successful reform (p. 60)… Going forward, these leaders’ reflections suggest that such modest but flexible investments may help leverage the greatest payoff from far bigger federal resources, such as those dedicated to technology and system reform under the ACA” (p.60-61). (Abstractor: Author).