“Referring families to services” requires that accessible services exist. Learn how we’re doing this.
The 100% Family Services Directory Project is part of the county-wide 100% New Mexico initiative. The initiative is a county-focused capacity-building process, headed by local stakeholders who are identifying barriers to vital services and working to ensure easy and timely access for all family members.
The Directory Project was created to engage local stakeholders in the process of assessing the capacity of ten vital service areas to meet the needs of local residents living within a county’s borders. These services were coined as the “services for surviving” and “services for thriving” in the book 100% Community: Ensuring 10 vital services for surviving and thriving.
The initiative represents a large tent where residents from different service sectors, elected officials and the arts community meet to dialogue and brainstorm the best way to achieve health equity goals by addressing disparities and barriers to services. The goal of the Directory Project is to create an online directory (which can also be replicated in print form) to link residents to vital services.
The Family Services Directory is different from most other online directories in that it is created, curated and kept up to date by county-based community members. Before a service organization is listed on the directory, the organization is called and their services are discussed with staff members.
The goal is for local stakeholders to take ownership of a directory that serves all the communities within a county’s borders. Local people know their residents and their local service better than those outside the region. Through the process of assessing ten vital service areas, directory designers are able to identify which service areas need to be strengthened and where.
The ten services areas reflect the ten action teams that form the local 100% New Mexico initiative. Each team becomes very familiar with all the service organizations representing their particular sector. Survival services are medical and dental care, behavioral health care, food security programs, housing security programs and transportation. Thriving services are parent supports, early childhood learning programs, fully-resourced community schools with health centers, youth mentor programs and job training.
In informational interviews, initiative action teams talk with agency representatives to better understand barriers which might include costs, unfriendly hours, long waiting lists, unresponsive staff, or lack of translation services to meet the needs of non-English speakers.
The Directory Project sheds a spotlight on a variety of challenges for the county to address. One challenge is the digital divide, meaning that some households won’t be able to use the internet to access information, education, care or support. Many services now offer web-based services that we wish to ensure all residents can access.
As action teams review the county’s school system, it becomes apparent which schools are fully-resourced community schools with school-based medical, dental and mental health care. The directory can share with residents the programs a school can offer for students and family members.
Initiative action teams can review the 100% New Mexico survey of their county’s parents and youth to better understand who is seeking services, how challenging it is to access services, and the specific barriers to ten vital services. In most county surveys, residents report that transportation to services can be a challenge.
Action teams learn which communities within a county struggle the most to access services. They can be both rural and urban areas where services are scarce or lacking the capacity to provide user-friendly services. The Directory provides an opportunity for residents to rate service in a variety of areas (cost, accessibility, hours, cleanliness, etc), which action teams can review and make a plan to address.
The 100% Family Services Directory is always growing, as services grow to meet the needs of all children, students, parents and caregiving grandparents. Action teams work in alignment with city and county government staff to coordinate the work of ending service barriers.
Each county engaged with the Anna, Age Eight Institute, developing their local 100% New Mexico initiative, develops a directory project as part of their assessment phase. Not only does each initiative need to identify barriers to services, but it must also identify the capacity of the county’s stakeholders to remove barriers.
Thus far with our county initiatives, we have found that the membership of the ten action teams represent community members very familiar with service organization staff and leadership. This familiarity helps to identify challenges and collaborate to fix them. The initiative is designed to fully support each service organization and help agencies work in alignment to create a seamless countywide system of care, safety and empowerment.
The 100% Family Services Directory Project is growing county by county. Today we have a few, supported by local stakeholders. In the future we hope to develop a directory with stakeholders and elected officials in all 33 counties to make New Mexico a home where 100% can thrive.
We look forward to your feedback on the directories and are eager to constantly improve them. For information about the 100% Family Services Directory Project, please contact your local 100% New Mexico initiative or the Anna, Age Eight Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org.