Shared Case Management: Moving Families Toward Healthy Self-sufficient Lifestyles
Unifying a city in service to the poor is no small task—and today’s economic climate and limited resources are making this challenge one that ministries and churches wrestle with daily. Avoiding service duplication, stewarding donated resource, and most importantly, moving families toward healthy self-sufficient lifestyles are critical components of a comprehensive city-wide approach to the issues of poverty.
Shared Case Management systems can facilitate collaboration in how ministries and churches help families, but only if many agencies and churches will use the same system. For example, churches do not typically have the budget to purchase case management systems nor the time to enter all of the data required by most of them. So Meet The Need developed a best-practice Shared Case Management platform that is now available at no cost to agencies and churches. And Meet The Need does not require much data entry so that churches and ministries alike can be on a common platform.
Tampa Bay, Florida: A Region United
Tampa, Florida is no different than most mid-sized U.S. cities. Ten percent of the 2,400,000 people that make up the Greater Tampa Bay area are unemployed. Churches and nonprofits who are ‘in the trenches’ serving the poor are constantly burdened with the reality that the ‘line at the front door’ is longer than the ‘food in the pantry.’ Meet The Need has provided a unique resource to help ministries and churches throughout the Tampa Bay area address this issue and quickly share information to make better decisions about how to have the greatest impact on the community and in each family’s life.
Meet The Need connected the community during the 2011 holiday season in Tampa Bay in a way that revolutionized service delivery. An entire 3-county area was united in outreach to the poor, providing a model to the rest of the country. Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army, YMCA, Metropolitan Ministries, public schools and area churches collaboratively served tens of thousands of families using Meet The Needs’ shared case management and scheduling system:
(1) equipped over 40 local churches to register families and distribute food and toys,
(2) engaged local public school teachers and guidance counselors to schedule children to receive food and toys.
(3) hosted a multitude of registration locastions and local ministries within a three-county radius staffed by volunteers all using Meet The Need, and
Using a shared platform across all those sites and organizations ensured that the same families were not booked to receive items at multiple locations. It also allocated families across various sites and time based on the number of volunteers available to distribute items and the number of items available to distribute. So there was no overbooking at various times and locations. Bar-coded sheets printed out through Meet The Need’s system were handed to each family, helping make sure everyone came to the right location at the right time and make “check in” very easy for staff.
At a very real and practical level, Meet The Need brings hope and help to people like Michelle. Michelle has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and approached her church with a request for some basic furniture items for her home and children. Michelle’s church was able to post her furniture need, and at the same time schedule her children to receive toys during the Toys for Tots drive coming up at Christmas.
A Framework for Collaboration and Referrals
Each city has a unique network of providers. Churches and ministries often serve slightly different constituencies. In Tampa, Meet The Need has provided a cohesive framework for collaboration and referrals. Service providers can quickly see who has most recently offered assistance to a family and where families are scheduled to receive help—so duplication is now minimized. And, as the spirit of collaboration has grown, churches and ministries now better understand where to send people if another agency could better meet a family’s needs.
Perhaps Karl Celestine, Director of Outreach & Prevention Services at Metropolitan Ministries, says it best,
“Meet The Need connects the community. Each provider has our own mission and focus. We all offer different things to those in need. Seeing what families have received from others allows us to put together a good case management plan to move them to self-sufficiency. As we all begin to unite in our service to others—including the local churches using Meet The Need—we can say we are not just ‘handing out aid’ but moving families to self-sufficiency.”
Shared Case Management Ebook
To learn more, download Meet The Need’s free Ebook on the topic by clicking HERE.