Since 2008, success rates have steadily increased for the residents served by LifeSTEPS. This is in large part due to the innovative programs provided by the nonprofit social service organization.
Beth Southorn, Executive Director for the agency, says that her organization’s role is to give the residents they serve “an extra edge”.
“Most of the people we serve don’t have a back-up plan. Most come from a lineage of inter-generational poverty and don’t have a safe place to land when a crisis hits,” Beth says.
Beth notes that the LifeSTEPS’ social service model was helping “around 40%” of the people they served experience high degrees of success through 2008. “Honestly, I thought we could do better.”
Through Beth’s leadership the organization introduced the Client Assistance Program. Designed to be a last resort safety net for residents facing a financial crisis, the program provided a one-time rental assistance of up to $400 (and assisted with transportation and medical issues). It was determined that the $400 was what a resident typically needed to overcome the immediate challenge.
“Getting people through the immediate was important, but we were seeking transformation.” And so, in order to receive the financial assistance, residents would have to agree to take part in a 3-month financial education program provided by LifeSTEPS, and participate in 6-months of case management with their LifeSTEPS social worker.
“Our success rates shot up immediately, and continue to rise,” Beth says. As of 2013, 87% of those who received assistance remained in their homes for 12-months or longer. In 2014 that success rate rose to 94% - and 92% of those completing the financial education course said it was “life-changing”.
The Client Assistance Program is considered an “enhanced” program because it is not a contracted service. The organization raises funds through donations and grants to fuel the program – and every cent goes directly toward providing service to the resident…and the program is available to every resident LifeSTEPS serves.
“Having a safety net program isn’t unique,” Beth says. “But, requiring the resident to take part in their solution is a more innovative and effective approach.”
For more information about Beth, go to www.LifeSTEPSusa.org/Beth-Southorn/