Beginning in 2004, The Annie E. Casey Foundation developed and piloted a theory of change that became known as Integrated Service Delivery (ISD). ISD was a new approach to helping lower-income people find work and improve their financial security. The ISD approach to financial security integrates essential services from three areas: 1) workforce development and education, 2) public benefits and work supports, and 3) financial education and coaching, and asset building. With this strategy, individuals receive a coordinated set of services across the three areas.
Services from each area are sequenced and timed according to a participant’s needs in a “bundle” unique to the participant. An essential element is the financial coach who works with participants over time to set and achieve goals.
The approach assesses its success not just by measures such as participation rates, but also by key outcomes for clients, including job placement and retention, family income, credit score improvement, debt reduction, and completion rates for college degrees or training programs.
Because the evidence shows it works. A recent study of Financial Opportunity Centers in Chicago conducted by Economic Mobility concluded that “The findings indicate that integrating financial coaching and employment services can be an effective strategy for helping low-income individuals improve their financial situations. In sum, in the two years after program entry, the FOCs helped individuals take some initial steps to improve their financial stability. Relative to the comparison group, FOC participants were more likely to be employed year-round, to have reduced certain types of debt, and to have built more-positive credit histories as reflected on their credit reports.” (“First Steps on the Road to Financial Stability: Final Report from the Evaluation of LISC’s Financial Opportunity Centers, Summary.” Anne Roder, Economic Mobility Corporation, page 12. September 2016.)
The Working Families Success Network Common Participant Outcomes create a shared vision of success for ISD. A shared approach to assessment is also essential to ensure data consistency across sites, and to enrich the knowledge base about how the strategy is helping lower-income people get work and improve their financial security.
The Network has identified 11 Common Participant Outcomes in the areas of
Read more about Common Participant Outcomes.
The strategy is working in 170 sites across the country. LISC, a national nonprofit focused on community development, supports more than 80 centers located primarily in community-based organizations—known as Financial Opportunity Centers or Centers for Working Families—nationwide. United Way Worldwide also provides support to its affiliates across the country that are engaged in ISD work. Similar networks of community colleges acting as ISD sites are supported by MDC and Achieving the Dream.
Following the early indications of success from the pilot sites started by The Annie E. Casey Foundation in 2004, the network coalesced around the work of a handful of national foundations and nonprofits that were engaged in the pilots. These organizations added to their number and now lead the work of WFSN. Known as the National Leadership Group (NLG), they work through five key strategies to support the spread and scale of ISD through local community-based organizations and community colleges. In 2013, these entities branded their collaboration and their relationship with local sites as the Working Families Success Network. The NLG is led by Paula Sammonds of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Kevin Jordan of LISC.