Coordination and Integration of Welfare and Workforce Development Systems. The Benefits of Service Coordination


Several studies point to the substantial benefits of coordination which can potentially accrue to both clients and programs (Trutko, et al. (1991), Holcomb et al.(1993)). With respect to clients, coordination often enables clients to access a wider range of services than would otherwise be available. Because agencies may be able to reduce duplicative services with coordination, they may be able to provide new, expanded, or more intensive services that will benefit their clientele. Clients may also experience a reduction in the barriers to accessing services  primarily through a simplified referral process that reduces the cost and time associated with accessing services.

From the agency perspective, the primary benefit of coordination is to eliminate the costly duplication of services and to re-focus resources on the provision of new or expanded services. Agencies may also experience access to additional resources, greater flexibility in using funds, the ability to offer a wider range of services targeted at client needs, increased knowledge and communication among agency staff, enhanced ability to serve different target groups, and an improved image with clients, employers, and the communities served.

While there are clearly benefits to coordination, the literature emphasizes that it is important to view coordination as a means to end  namely, a more effective and comprehensive service delivery system for clients to improve their long-term outcomes  rather than an end in and of itself. Grubb et al. (1990), finding only very limited duplication in the provision of services even with relatively uncoordinated efforts, stressed that the primary goal of service coordination should be to make programs more effective. Bailis (1989) emphasizes that service integration efforts cannot be judged by the coordination process (as he finds most studies have done) but whether it achieved the intended results of greater effectiveness, reduced costs, and fewer demands on clients.