US issues report on coordinating services for children, families

Across sectors, there are many effective services that promote healthy development in early childhood and support families’ well-being. These include high-quality CCEE and supports for other family health, educational, and financial needs.

It can be challenging for families to benefit from all of these services because they all function separately, typically in different locations and with differing eligibility, enrollment, and service provision requirements. This can prevent families from accessing services, or can make service navigation more cumbersome both for families (e.g., duplicative paperwork, travel to multiple agencies) and staff (e.g., lack of information about families’ other services). Such roadblocks can exacerbate disparities because they affect marginalized families the most. 

States and local communities have worked to address these barriers by combining services and funding streams, often across organizations, to fulfill multiple family needs simultaneously through a centralized process. Such strategies may improve families’ access to services, which in turn may improve child developmental outcomes and parental well-being, particularly for families with lower incomes. These strategies may also result in cost savings by reducing redundancy and inefficiency across agencies. However, coordinating services is challenging; often the partners have different goals, activities, and funding requirements that create barriers to coordination.

The Assessing Models of Coordinated Services (AMCS) study provided an in-depth look at different approaches to coordinating CCEE with other health and human services. The study team identified common elements among approaches and used these to describe six overarching “models” of coordinated services. The purpose of this research highlight is to summarize key information from this study for CCEE leaders who may be interested in improving service coordination for families.

Download the full report here.