Policymakers and program administrators have become increasingly concerned about declines in participation in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) and other work supports. As a result, interest has grown in identifying promising strategies for improving low-income families’ access to these programs and benefits. In early 2002, the Commonwealth of Virginia implemented a new initiative: To provide the services of many agencies at one-stop career centers, called Coordinated Economic Relief Centers (CERCs). This report describes the results of a study on how the CERCs were implemented and their potential for increasing low-income families’ access to the FSP and other work supports and provides operational lessons for other States and communities seeking to implement a similar one-stop approach to service delivery. A case study approach was taken as the primary research method for gathering and analyzing qualitative information on CERC implementation. The qualitative information was supplemented with a brief literature review to provide context for the study, and with an analysis of service use data. 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 and other social service programs was low, and expectations in some communities exceeded what the CERCs could realistically accomplish.
PIC ID: 7911; Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy; Federal Contact: Lower-Basch, Elizabeth, 202-690-6808; Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Washington, DC