Prepared for the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments by Interim Executive Solutions, LLC.
This gap analysis brings together two “big data” sources— Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) town profiles and United Way’s 211CT data—alongside interviews with municipal officials and nonprofits to identify gaps in service delivery in southeastern Connecticut. We use demographic and financial data by municipality and region to offer a socio-economic backdrop to the regional human services ecosystem. We then explore unmet human services needs by municipality and the region overall. Finally, we offer perspectives on patterns of unmet need, assessments of the information available, and recommendations to address the institutional misalignments that contribute to regional service gaps. This report is complementary to the SCCOG Human Services Providers Shared Services Study produced during the same time period.
Based on a thorough analysis of data from CERC town profiles and 211CT, the highest areas of unmet service needs included housing and shelter, mental health and addictions, health care, and employment and income. However, when overlaid with providers delivering each of these services in the region, there appears to be a proportionate number of service providers offering coverage for these areas of need. Apart from employment and income services, the top human service needs in the region are also the top services provided.
Presented with this enigma of high levels of unmet needs in areas of high service provision, Interim Executive Solutions (IES) needed to look beyond the numbers to identify service gaps. We determined that the region’s service gaps are related to coordination versus provision. This prompted our team to develop a new paradigm for viewing human services coordination in the region, metaphorically much like the health care system. Municipalities delivering human services are skilled at providing general services and short-term emergency services. Given these strengths, they are much like a family doctor or general practitioner. They can identify residents needing services, facilitate local policies to help address patterns of human service needs, and arrange eligibility for and referrals to more specialized human services providers. Nonprofits usually provide specialized human services. Most, though not all, have built up their expertise and internal business models to provide services to a specific client group or around a particular area of need.
Recognizing the more general role fulfilled by municipalities to maintain wellness, conduct screenings, identify problems, and make appropriate referrals as well as the nonprofit specialist role with the specific knowledge, training, and treatment expertise to be able to address more narrowly defined clientele, IES finds two key gaps. First, there is a gap in funding for human services providers and the infrastructure required to connect individuals needing services with service nodes—specialist hubs in the region’s cities. IES highlights transportation as the principle funding gap inhibiting a smooth connection between needy citizens and the services they require. Second, coordination and communication between municipalities and nonprofits is not always fluid nor uniformly structured across the region. IES focuses in on the inadequacy of the current 211CT database to demonstrate this disconnect.
IES makes four key recommendations in light of these findings.
- More state funding is needed for human services and fundamental infrastructure in the region. IES suggests that the region approach this task through a “Pay for Success” model.
- For residents of southeastern Connecticut, 211CT should be further developed as a mobile application that allows users to set a location radius and key word search for services within that radius. For policy-makers, 211CT should make its service categories collapsible so that the data is easier to manage and analyze. For all stakeholders, a concentrated effort should be made to increase provider participation rates.
- Additional communication paths and systems that are “risk free” or incentivized are needed.
- Service providers should also look to build upon service coordination best practices in the region. Municipalities without a human service capacity should consider right-sizing their service models to align with their community’s level of need. Nonprofits should leverage their specialist skill-set and resources to provide high-quality, targeted interventions to the populations they serve.
IES acknowledges the participating twenty-eight nonprofit organizations, eight municipal governments, and one Tribal Nation for their engagement with our consultant team and forthcoming provision of service provision and gaps data used to prepare the analysis outlined in this report. We appreciate especially the time and dedication of senior leaders that engaged in our interviews and responded to our surveys as co-creators of knowledge and influence in the human services sector in southeastern Connecticut.
The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments is one of nine Councils of Governments (COGs) in the state. Collectively the COGs provide a geographic framework within which municipalities can jointly address common interests and coordinate those interests with state planning processes. The municipalities within each region have voluntarily created a Regional Council of Governments (RCOG) through local ordinance to carry out a variety of regional planning and other activities on their behalf. SCCOG is comprised of twenty-two towns, cities and boroughs, and is governed by the chief elected officials of member municipalities. SCCOG’s member municipalities are Bozrah, Colchester, East Lyme, Franklin, Griswold, Groton (City), Groton (Town), Jewett City (Borough), Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Montville, New London, North Stonington, Norwich, Preston, Salem, Sprague, Stonington, Stonington (Borough), Waterford and Windham. The region spans 616 square miles and is home to approximately 286,000 residents.
For more information, visit: http://www.seccog.org/.
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