Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced today that the Rhode Island Department of Human Services has been chosen by the Urban Institute as one of six states awarded a three-year implementation grant as part of the Ford Foundation-funded Work Support Strategies initiative. This initiative seeks to streamline access to and delivery of the services of four major programs that support low-income families: SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps), Medical Assistance, RIWorks, and the Child Care Assistance Program.
"Rhode Island is pleased to be one of a select group of states that will lead the way in re-engineering the delivery of these vital human service programs," Governor Chafee said. "Our state's well-being depends upon low-income families being able to remain stable while entering or trying to stay in the workforce. In this time of economic difficulty and limited resources, innovation in state government will help ensure that Rhode Islanders continue to have access to fundamental social services. Rhode Island is grateful to the Ford Foundation for its investment and honored to be selected."
The $1.2 million implementation grant builds on a recent one-year planning grant that was used to produce the plan submitted as part of the application for the new award. Beyond the funds, the three-year grant provides regular consultation with national experts; technical and other guidance from the Urban Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, with whom the Ford Foundation has partnered for this initiative; and sharing of best practices among participating states. The Work Support Strategies initiative plans to communicate the lessons learned over the next three years in the grant states with the federal government and other states in order to improve human services systems.
"As we coordinate the array of services among the four major health and human service agencies in our state," said Steven M. Costantino, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, "the goals of the Work Support Strategies initiative complement our efforts to deliver human services as seamlessly and effectively as possible. This grant will have significant positive effects for social services in Rhode Island."
"This award comes at exactly the right time for our department and our state," adds Sandra M. Powell, Director of the Department of Human Services. "While resources are constrained, needs have grown, particularly in the difficult times Rhode Island has experienced over the last few years. With contributions from many community partners, department staff at every level has been working very hard not only to meet these growing needs, but, during the past year, has been diligent in analyzing our business processes and outcomes in order to plan improvements that will benefit the public and our state."