Successfully Implementing SOAR: Lessons Learned from Six States. Looking Ahead


A well-implemented SOAR initiative helps front-line staff better navigate the SSI/SSDI application process and may increase the application approval rate among individuals who are homeless. To date, 34 states (including the District of Columbia) have received federally funded TA to implement SOAR in their communities. Based on findings from the case studies, states have had varying degrees of success putting the critical components of the initiative in place. SAMHSA recently provided funding for the TA contractor to continue working with some of these states, to provide assistance to the remaining 16 states and 6 U.S. territories, and to develop a web-based SSTR curriculum. The lessons described in this issue brief and in the full report can play an important role in the next phase of the federal initiative, as states that have struggled to implement SOAR hone their approaches and states just beginning the planning process set their priorities.

In addition to providing funding for more TA, SAMHSA provided funding for Mathematica to conduct an independent evaluation of SOARs outcomes. This evaluation will build on Mathematicas experience conducting the implementation study by addressing the following questions:

  • To what extent does SSTR training change the knowledge and practices of front-line workers, and do these outcomes differ for participants in in-person SSTR trainings versus web-based SSTR trainings?
  • To what extent does SOAR increase the number of SSI/SSDI applications submitted by individuals who are homeless?
  • To what extent does SOAR improve SSI/SSDI application outcomes?
  • What environmental factors in a community (such as availability of homeless services) are associated with better application outcomes?
  • What implementation factors (for example, strong and consistent leadership) are associated with better application outcomes?
  • Are improvements in SOAR application outcomes associated with benefits for state or private service delivery systems (such as cost recovery for state General Assistance expenditures, Medicaid reimbursements for uncompensated medical care, or reduced SSI/SSDI application backlog)?

In the pending evaluation, Mathematica will collect a variety of data to document agencies investments in SOAR and will provide new, more specific information on SOARs effectiveness and the factors associated with positive outcomes.

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