Strategic Initiatives on Economic Mobility and Resiliency

Environmental Scan Guidance

October 2020

Context: With the COVID-19 response and impact on the nation’s economy, we have the opportunity to bring state stakeholders together to both understand how they are responding to and recovering from the crisis, and importantly, to identify how to translate the many policies and procedures put in place during the response into permanent changes that support a whole family approach.   Dozens of federal and state waivers have been implemented; flexibility within existing policies maximized, and new laws enacted to support workers and their families – who, through this response, have become the primary focus and organizing principle. 

Goal and Purpose:  Provide context and address the strategic planning questions:

1) What is the current situation as it relates to economic resiliency and mobility?

2) What are emerging as promising innovations to promote economic resiliency and mobility for families and communities?

The purpose of the scans is to inform ORO CO on state innovations, pain points and opportunities around economic resiliency and mobility so in turn, ORO CO can advise the IOAS, Program Directors, and national strategic partnerships to improve federal policy and take good ideas to scale.  The regional environmental scans will inform regional strategic initiative plans and be used as a basis for identifying opportunities and strategies for select states within the region.

For the purposes of these scans, economic mobility and resiliency will focus on workforce development, child care systems, and parental education.

Primary audience:  ORO Central Office leadership, Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary leadership, ACF Program Office Leadership, and other federal partners and leaders at the CO and RO levels.

Key elements:

Structure:  Please use the accompanying template.  Do not focus on formatting as that will be done by Central Office communications team. Use graphs and data visualization to represent data and analyses, showing trends and comparisons over time.  Data should quickly tell the audience if economic resilience is improving or if there are downward trends that we need to pay attention to through policy changes.  Summarize and bullet analysis so that leadership can easily scan and digest the high-level take-aways.  Provide the valuable insights from the State Commissioners calls and the Governor’s and cabinet-level official priorities that align with ORO’s strategic initiatives.

The executive summary (1-2 pages) should include:

  1. Data trends in the region that highlight the high-priority needs of the vulnerable populations and the economic resiliency and mobility of communities. 
    1. It is also important to capture federal investments in the area of poverty reduction and economic mobility.
      1. Summary and trend data from the last 4 years from state TANF funding that captures the uses (workforce development, child care) and reach of the program.  Do not include MOU funding.
        1. ORO currently measures whether state TANF investment is increasing in the areas of workforce development, child care, and basic assistance.    
        1. Reach data must include information on the caseload, including the size and cash grant amount.
      1. Relevant data that captures state WIOA investments and SNAP Employment and Training priorities that target high-need populations (TANF, SNAP recipients).
    1. You may choose to capture areas of employment growth, and new jobs or career pathways that are emerging.  Consider intrastate variation, such as rural vs. urban. Or you may choose to capture areas of innovation in workforce development, such as training and education.  Highlights should reflect state context.
  2. The top strengths, needs, challenges and/or opportunities in the region related to economic resiliency and mobility.
  3. Exemplary emerging innovative practices around economic resiliency and mobility that are region/state/county/community led that you want to highlight (Note: All innovations can be included in the state summary.  Here you should pull out one or two from the region that you think are particularly innovative.)  This could include states’ work around work disincentives (benefits cliffs) or moving towards an outcomes based system that measure parental employment, earnings, and school readiness within the ECD and education arena.  You could also include states 1115 Medicaid waivers, approaches around Social Determinants of Health, and how states are leveraging data and technology to better target and provide services.

Summary for each state in the region (1-2 pages per state) that:

  1. Provides context for the strategic opportunities for promoting economic resiliency and mobility.
  2. Highlights any barriers or challenges to change that are useful for understanding the state context.  Focus on economic mobility and resiliency through the lens of workforce development, child care systems, and parental education.
    1. What are the states’ highest priorities at the gubernatorial and state human services agency leadership level for families who are low-income? What policy and programmatic flexibilities are being leveraged to serve families who are low-income
    1. Which industry sectors have been impacted most significantly by state?
    1. How are states’ capacities and use of data integration impacted? Are there innovations in data systems used to improve the service delivery system, improve data sharing or measure outcomes?  What are the pain points in state systems? 
    1. To what extent is technology, such as telehealth and virtual case management, being used to assess economic resilience, social determinants of health other human service or workforce development needs?  How is it being used to deliver those services?
  • Includes information on the following three subsections:
  1. Relevant Governor’s initiatives to promote economic resiliency, and mobility, of children and families.
  2. Relevant state or regional legislation (pending or passed), policies, targeted federal and state funding that support family economic resiliency and mobility.  
    1. What are the key executive branch policies, legislative proposals/enactments states have taken in human services in response to the current situation?
    1. What are key state innovations in system, practice and policy that are likely to be sustained to meet the needs of vulnerable families and children?
    1. Which states have incorporated cross-cutting councils or other administrative/leadership teams that focus on economic resilience?
    1. How is the human service sector collaborating or working more closely with other sectors such as health, education, labor, business and housing with a focus on economic resilience?
    1. Which states are using Social Determinants of Health to reframe systems and practice? How is it changing practice, funding and specific partnerships with public health and Managed Care Organizations?
  3. State human services agency emerging innovations (1 or 2) targeting economic resiliency and mobility through workforce, health, education, early childhood development and family-centered integrated services
    1. Examples of emerging innovations in systems integration should include multiple sectors, such as human services, workforce (state WIOA plans targeting TANF/SNAP families), Community Colleges, early care and education, health (Medicaid Section 1115 waiver/Managed Care Organizations) as the priority.
      1. How are states leveraging career pathways and adult education to promote resiliency and mobility?
      1. Other sectors may include behavioral health (substance use/behavioral health), Opportunity Zones, small businesses, Social Determinants of Health frameworks, housing, transportation, etc.
    1. Systems integration strategies that meaningfully engage parent and family voices in planning, policy and implementation should be noted.
    1. Provide context around champions for the model, including philanthropic investment, advocacy efforts, social sector/provider engagement, university/researcher support, state advisory councils, parent councils or parent leaders, the business community, etc.
      1. How are states (counties, communities) collaborating with the private sector to meet the needs of families and children? Specific examples will be important across domain.
    1. Specifically highlight philanthropic investments and partnerships in the region that may be leveraged (i.e. foundations and the Federal Reserve Bank).

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