Co-location of services across federal and state public assistance programs is often an approach used to increase access to services by those who need them. Prior research and evaluation studies have documented the many challenges faced in effectively co-locating and integrating services to better meet the needs of local residents. Virginia established Coordinated Economic Relief Centers (CERCs) in several rural counties experiencing high unemployment due to plant closings and layoffs. Through a process analysis, the researchers documented the lessons learned and the challenges faced by the CERCs in increasing access to the Food Stamp Program and other supports in these communities. The results indicate that the CERCs helped some customers get information about where to find services and made obtaining services more convenient. However, resource constraints hampered the CERCs’ efforts to operate as envisioned, the level of referrals to food assistance programs was low, and expectations in some communities exceeded what the CERCs could realistically accomplish.
PIC ID: 8153; Agency Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation; Federal Contact: Campbell, Nancye, 202-401-5760; Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Washington, DC