Voices from PFS Pioneers: Illinois Dually-Involved Youth Project (Nonprofit Finance Fund)

by Nonprofit Finance Fund (Tue, 08/18/2015 - 00:00)

NFF spoke with Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. (Third Sector) and the Conscience Community Network (CCN) about the Illinois Dually-Involved Youth Project. You can read more about the project here. This blog is part of an interview series with selected project partners from our Social Innovation Fund transaction structuring competition.

NFF: Tell us about the genesis of this PFS project. What was the original impetus? How were the stakeholders who have been moving the project forward brought together originally?

Third Sector: In spring 2013, at the recommendation of the Governor’s Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, the state of Illinois announced the launch of a Pay for Success program. With that announcement, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) engaged the Harvard Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab) for support and issued a Request for Information to solicit ideas for issue areas that could be a fit with the Pay for Success model.

In September 2013, the state issued a request for proposals offering additional services and resources for troubled youth by providing service providers with flexible upfront funds to pursue innovation and scale. Youth involved in both the foster care and juvenile delinquency systems experience distinctly poor outcomes. In Illinois, many dually-involved youth are not living with a parent or relative. More than half recidivate within two years. Many experience substance abuse, exhibit symptoms of traumatic stress, or conduct acts of self-harm. As a result, these youth spend frequent and extended time in costly institutional care.

Through this Request for Proposals process, the Conscience Community Network (CCN), a pre-existing coalition of six leading Illinois nonprofit child welfare and juvenile justice providers, was selected to develop a PFS project that would be the first in the nation to use a multi-provider, collective action model. CCN partnered with Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. during the development of the RFP response. Third Sector has provided on-going advisory services to CCN throughout project development while the Harvard Government Innovation Lab continues to provide technical assistance to the GOMB.

CCN is currently negotiating project details with the Illinois’ GOMB and the Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services.

NFF: One of the things that struck us as being innovative about this project was the collective impact model of six established service providers working together. Can you speak a little bit about how this partnership came together, and how you think this model will grow or diversify the existing PFS field? What are some early lessons learned about using collective impact models in PFS?

CCN: In Illinois, dually-involved youth are present throughout the state and require a variety of services to meet their unique needs. A single service provider is unlikely to be able to provide the continuum of services necessary for this population and few service providers operate at scale statewide. Recognizing the potential limitations of a single provider to adequately serve dually-involved youth statewide, One Hope United, Maryville Academy, OMNI Youth Services, SGA Youth & Family Services, UCAN and Youth Outreach broke down the competitive barriers and unified into an official collaboration for a care coordination initiative. Our partnership actually pre-dates our collaboration for the PFS project. We originally came together to explore a care coordination model in response to the Affordable Care Act, and its mandate to use care coordination to address the social determinants of health.

As CCN, we are now able to leverage our respective expertise to build a stronger trauma-focused program and extend our collective capabilities in foster care, residential placement, out-patient, and mental health services to meet the distinctive needs of the youth population. Collective action also offers the potential to scale services more rapidly than any single provider could on their own, while maintaining accountability, leadership and oversight into the process.

Third Sector: To date, PFS projects in the US have focused on a specific provider or intervention model. Collective action should be explored as people look to the PFS model to address complex social issues, because it offers a model for serving people with needs that may not be satisfied by a single provider or intervention model. And, we have seen the early benefits of having multiple service providers working together. While we have not yet launched the project in Illinois, the project development has benefited from both the diverse perspectives and expertise of the six service providers, as well as the depth of their relationships with state and local government.

But, of course, this multi-provider model brings additional challenges. One important piece of the collective approach is a designated lead agency with an appointed point person for leading the project development process.

CCN: One Hope United will serve as the lead agency for this project. As such, they will coordinate intake and referrals to different CCN members, and serve as the fiscal agent for the project. Two other critical steps to formalizing this collaboration are integrating our separate IT systems, and developing a fidelity monitoring system to ensure consistency in the service delivery model.

NFF: As you know, the road to launching a PFS project is a long one! Can you share a challenge to date and how you and your partners have overcome this challenge?

CCN: The extensive duration of the PFS development process has been a challenge to our collective impact approach. Given the number of partners and stakeholders involved, any delays in progress require deviations from work plan schedules, which in turn affect the plans of our members. To overcome this challenge, we have placed a particular focus on open communication and providing timely updates to all stakeholders in order to manage expectations and maintain collective motivation on the project.

Further, as time lapses, similar, other pilot programs have developed in a locations covered by our members. This could have an adverse effect on our project by reducing the number of youth eligible for services in that area. The cooperative model creates a collective voice to raise concerns and issues to our state counterparts so as to avoid possible overlaps of programming and service delivery.