It’s hard to overestimate the importance of solid data that demonstrate effectiveness. Increasingly, both the philanthropic and governmental communities emphasize approaches that rely on data to identify what works. With the support of its funders, the Working Families Success Network (WFSN) is deeply committed to finding, supporting and disseminating research and evaluation findings that speak to the effectiveness of Integrated Services Delivery (ISD).

WFSN-Funded Research and Evaluation

To that end, WFSN funders have underwritten the following studies designed to evaluate the effectiveness of integrated services delivery (ISD) being used by community-based organizations and community colleges.

WFSN retained Mathematica Policy Research (Mathematica) to undertake two separate evaluations which are expected to conclude in December 2017.

Community-Based Organizations

First, Mathematica is leading a project that seeks to evaluate the WFSN’s  service delivery approach (integrated services delivery, also known as “bundling”) used by community-based organizations (CBOs).   The services that are the core of ISD are grouped into three categories:  1) workforce development, 2) public benefits, and 3) financial coaching/ education.  Research will include 1) a review of background documents, 2) a site-level survey, and 3) site visits to a subset of organizations. The purposes of this evaluation are to:

  • Identify promising practices in providing bundled or integrated services, including variations in services and delivery approaches tailored to different clients and institutional platforms
  • Generate guidance on building the capacity of organizations, partnerships, and networks to provide bundled or integrated services
  • Generate guidance on how funders and practitioners can use promising practices to begin providing bundled or integrated services or to improve their existing bundled services/ISD practices
  • Advance the longer-term ISD research agenda by identifying key elements of the WFSN theory of change related to bundled services/ISD to serve as a framework for more rigorous future evaluations that can measure the program’s impact on participant outcomes

WFSN anticipates two briefs describing findings from the site survey and site visits respectively, as well as a final policy brief. The evaluation will conclude in December 2017.

Community Colleges

In addition, Mathematica is conducting an evaluation of the Working Student Success Network (WSSN) which includes 19 colleges that are using the ISD approach on their campuses.  This evaluation includes both a formative and summative evaluation of community colleges in four states (Arkansas, California, Virginia, and Washington) that have received funding to provide a range of services designed to help disadvantaged students complete community college programs and achieve economic self-sufficiency.  In the case of colleges, the essential services are classified under the three categories of  1) workforce training, 2) academic coaching, and 3) financial counseling.  WSSN colleges are implementing ISD under the management of Achieving the Dream.

Mathematica will be leading the summative evaluation to better understand which components of this initiative are most promising and for which types of students. DVP-Praxis will take the lead on the formative evaluation to build on their earlier work reviewing and providing feedback on WSSN implementation plans.

The project is expected to produce a final report describing cumulative findings across the formative and summative evaluations.  This evaluation will also conclude in December 2017.

Member Organizations’ Research and Evaluation

Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC)

• Watch this October 27, 2016, LISC webinar presenting the key findings of the FOC evaluation.
• You can also download the presentation featured in the webinar (PDF).

WFSN network leader, LISC, and its Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) were the subject of a recent study (September 2016) conducted by the Economic Mobility Corporation.  The excerpt below is from LISC’s website, and gives brief highlights from the study of its approach to integrated services delivery.  Links to a summary of the study and the full report are at the end.

LISC’s Financial Opportunity Centers offer clients bundled services that include one-on-one financial counseling, employment assistance and help accessing public benefits to supplement work income.

An independent study by the Economic Mobility Corporation found that, compared to people in programs offering employment assistance alone, FOC clients were more likely to:

*be employed year-round;

*reduce non-asset-related debt;

*build positive credit histories.

These findings offer concrete evidence that our model is successful in helping low-income people reach their financial goals and create a brighter future for their families.  The evaluation was conducted as part of a grant from the Social Innovation Fund to implement evidence-based solutions.

Read the summary here or the full report here.