Benefit Coach Pilot
There are two interrelated challenges facing health and human services professionals. First, a relatively large percentage of poor families do not receive the public benefits for which they qualify. Second, young children associated with substantiated allegations of neglect are at a high risk for experiencing a subsequent substantiated incident of neglect. These problems are interrelated in that family poverty (or economic instability) and child neglect are highly correlated.
To help address these two problems, we are developing and rigorously evaluating the use of a benefits coach to simultaneously (1) increase the take-up rate of public benefits and (2) decrease the risk of repeat neglect. The benefits coaches will work directly with child welfare-involved families and focus specifically on getting families through the eligibility process – and helping them secure the benefits that will improve their family’s economic well-being. The current project represents a collaboration between Michigan’s Children’s Services Agency, Poverty Solutions, and the Child and Adolescent Data Lab. The benefit coach model is located in Detroit’s south central field office and the project will run for two years.
Joseph Ryan, University of Michigan School of Social Work