Offerring services in the same location was considered advantageous for clients and a way to strengthen relationaships.
A strategy to facilitate partnerships undertaken in some study sites is the co-location of partner agency staff in the welfare office. Physically offering services in the same location was not only considered advantageous for clients, but was considered another way to strengthen relationships between partner and TANF agency staff. In Arlington, VA, staff of SOC Enterprises, a contract psychologist, and the Department of Rehabilitation Services have offices and regular hours during which they see TANF clients at the Arlington Employment Center (AEC). Also in Arlington, staff reported that much of the success of the partnership with the substance abuse/mental health therapist is a result of this specialist being co-located in the AEC.
Initially efforts to facilitate this partnership included educating TANF staff about identifying substance abuse and mental health problems and how to make referrals. This effort was followed by the assignment of one person as the single point of contact in the partner agency. Neither of these efforts resulted in the expected number of referrals. Finally, funding was secured to support a dedicated worker and managers of both agencies agreed that colocating a staff person in the AEC may be a better approach to meeting staff and client needs. With the co-location of this specialist, referrals have increased and a strong partnership has developed.
The Kent, WA office also co-locates a number of partners including representatives of the Employment Security Department who conduct same day job search; a public health nurse who provides parenting, pregnancy prevention, and health services; a substance abuse assessor who conducts same day assessments, if scheduling permits; and an independent psychologist (available several days a week) for clients who may require counseling or mental health assessments. Kent was planning to co-locate a domestic violence advocate in the welfare office, at the time of our visit. This co-location creates a one-stop shopping environment for clients and allows TANF case managers and social workers to consult with specialists on an ongoing basis and become increasingly knowledgeable regarding how to recognize and address unobserved barriers to employment.