Promoting Public Benefits Access Through Web-Based Tools and Outreach: A National Scan of Efforts. Volume I: Background, Efforts in Brief, and Related Initiatives. B. Efforts on Private Agency Websites

04/08/2011

Efforts hosted on the websites of private or quasi-governmental agencies are generally “advocacy-driven” since they are developed and marketed by entities whose missions tend to focus on meeting the needs of low- or moderate-income individuals and families. Some are targeted to different subsets of the low-income population based on demographic characteristics and others are more broadly targeted. Some use an assisted model (where trained staff at community organizations uses the web-based technology on behalf of clients) and others offer a self-service model (where the public may use the technology directly). Unlike some publicly hosted efforts, most are not connected to or integrated with agencies’ eligibility systems. As a result, they typically cannot facilitate the eligibility determination and enrollment process.

These efforts may be implemented nationwide, in a specific community, or in multiple communities where they are potentially marketed under different names. The latter are branded and deployed the same way regardless of where they are implemented, so we discuss multiple implementations in a single summary of the effort. For instance, The Benefit Bank, a web-based service that simplifies and centralizes the process through which low- and moderate-income individuals and families apply for selected state and federal benefits, operates either statewide or in certain communities in 12 states. Various community organizations—such as faith-based, job-training, healthcare or social service agencies—provide potential program applicants access to The Benefit Bank. But because of differences both in the community organizations that host The Benefit Bank and in the benefit programs available across communities, differences may exist in the implementation of the effort across communities. However, for purposes of the scan, we considered The Benefit Bank to be a single effort. Similarly, other privately hosted efforts that operate in multiple states or communities are considered to be a single effort. If any of these efforts are selected for the case studies that follow the scan, differences in how they are administered across communities will be thoroughly documented.

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