Part 3 - What about roadblocks? 

Written by Kysha Frazier, Senior Policy Associate | Corporation for a Skilled Workforce

The author, Dr. Seuss once said, “How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”  Seuss’ melodic rhyme expresses how many workforce professionals feel about the bandwidth they have for completing their everyday workload. This tension brings images of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland running around frantically because he never felt he had enough— time.  

Integrating financial security services into workforce development programs can pose some challenges, of which time is one. Other barriers like inadequate client support tools, inconsistent data collection to accurately monitor progress, and processes and procedures that help sustain integration. But these challenges can be met, and in many cases without significant extra costs and extra, precious— time!

When resources and staff capacity are tight, adopting strategies that promote efficiencies while resulting in effective outcomes is critical.  The most impactful outcomes will serve a dual purpose: improving financial security while also boosting career mobility.  Integration of workforce and financial security activities should be thought of in its ability to be applied to a wide scope of new and pre-existing programs, as well as the ease of implementation and documentation.

According to a 2017 CSW special survey of Workforce Benchmarking Network and The Financial Clinic’s WorkBOOST NYC sites, programs that provide both workforce and financial security services to over 75% of their participants found important shared outcomes for the people they serve such as addressing wage garnishments, reviewing credit profile, and establishing a bank account for paycheck deposits.

Overcoming integration challenges can produce life changing outcomes for clients.  Imagine a job seeker with a disability. Workforce staff will better serve them if they understand how the Social Security Administration allows beneficiaries access to jobs without risking eligibility.  Think about the young person seeking their first job. Providing upfront information on check cashing fees, along with the type and amount of taxes taken out of their pay, can help them make more well-informed choices and build realistic expectations. Consider a divorced father who has been laid off and is struggling to make child support payments while searching for a new job.  Staff knowledgeable on the wage garnishment process and individuals’ rights can provide that client with key information for decision-making.

The way in which new integration activities and strategies are presented is key to garnering staff buy-in. Embedding efforts into current service delivery models and staff development can make the integration of financial activities feel more like a part of the natural workflow, instead of an additional task for staff. This approach works the same way for job seekers as well. For example, by learning to perform online follow-ups on credit reporting inquiries, clients can strengthen financial security skills while building transferable workforce skills like basic computer navigation and research skills for job searching.

Integration has its challenges, but it can be done. Having leadership support and a point person (or people) with responsibilities dedicated to the integration process, can help make these changes and improvements more seamless. And ultimately save much needed —  time!

To learn more about this topic, see Issue Brief #3: What About Roadblocks?

To read the full series, see Full Series Issue Briefs

Join the discussion on twitter, @skilledwork_org, @financialclinic #morenotextra #finsec4change #integrate

*This blog is the third in a five-part series co-written by Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and The Financial Clinic. Stay tuned for subsequent blogs in this series.

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