The Board of County Supervisors recently heard a presentation regarding the results of the No Wrong Door Human Services Solution Study. The study was commissioned by the Board earlier this year to determine how human services in the county can be streamlined to better serve those in the community. This aligns with the Wellbeing goal of the county's Strategic Plan, which states that "the community will support vulnerable individuals and families to ensure the wellbeing of the entire community."
Sarah Henry, the director of the Area Agency on Aging, said the no wrong door concept means that people can get to the appropriate help as soon as they contact any of the county's human services agencies.
Henry said that process is not in place now. "It is challenging for persons to access services using our current business model. For example, a client served by the Agency on Aging may also be served by Social Services, Community Services and Housing for multiple services. The four departments are spread out at multiple locations throughout the county, and each time the client contacts a new department, the client has to share their story again. No Wrong Door is used to better integrate and coordinate service delivery for human services clients regardless of their entry point."
Erin Henderlight — who is with Public Consulting Group, or PCG, the contractor which conducted the study — said that the idea of integrating agencies was one of the firm's top recommendations. "The first recommendation that we're making is to bring all the agencies together… and clearly articulate and define a shared vision for everybody… They can all have more impact if they're working toward some shared measures, as well."
PCG also recommended improving interconnectedness at entry points by developing a human services information and referral call center and streamlining and consolidating front desks.
Another recommendation is to update technology to aid those who work in the field, as well as making the process more transparent through a client portal, using text messages to keep clients informed, adopting a process to constantly evaluate services clients receive along with mobile apps and interactive public information boards.
Henderlight also said there might be ways to coordinate administration through areas such as human resources, fleet management, budgeting and finance to capitalize on savings. In addition, a liaison might be needed to coordinate with outside agencies such as area charities, churches and non-profits. "A lot of human services agencies use many of the same partners. So looking at ways that we can capitalize and sort of mobilize a community and those stakeholders in a way that individual departments are doing now as just single agencies."
The county could also renovate facilities to make more efficient use of space, place better signage and layout lobbies better to be more efficient, Henderlight said.
Henry said the next steps in the process will include reviewing the recommendations, determining the resources needed and seeking guidance from the Board of County Supervisors. "Positioning the county government to more efficiently serve the residents is essential to the wellbeing of our community. We're going to be following county processes in order to implement these recommendations, and we'll be coming back to you for guidance at that time."