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Moving forward on Benefit Access Recommendations from Advisory Council

Joshua DuBois highlights some recent progress toward implementing specific recommendations from the President’s Advisory Council.

In the past few months, momentum has been building around the recommendations put forward by the President’s Advisory Council for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships around increasing access to income enhancing benefits.  Benefit access, referred to in recommendations 6-9 of the Economic Recovery and Domestic Poverty Taskforce, focus on efforts that help eligible families and individuals access and use the federal and state programs that can help families move out of poverty. 

Recently, the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation within the Department of Health and Human Services launched a study that will increase our understanding of benefits access tools.  With additional funding from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as well as the HHS Partnerships Center, this study will summarize the various private and public sector benefits access initiatives, provide in-depth overviews of selected benefits access tools, and synthesize extant data on benefits access outcomes. 

In addition to this study, ACF awarded five one-year grants for social services and income maintenance benefits enrollment coordination totaling $1.7 million. These grants will support demonstration projects to develop and implement evidence-based and innovative programming in the area of benefits enrollment coordination models that could be strengthened, adapted, and assessed for impact and results in communities nationwide.

Lastly, HHS is moving forward with an effort to simplify a process known as the Advance Planning Document or APD.  Simplification of this process will reduce barriers for States to implement new IT systems that will facilitate innovations in client enrollment while still safeguarding State systems and client data.

The recommendations from the President’s Advisory Council identified coordinated benefit access as an important  means to strengthen partnerships between faith-based and neighborhood organizations and the government in order to better serve people in need, as well as to more effectively help people out of poverty.

Alexia Kelley, director of our HHS Partnerships Center, and Mara Vanderslice, Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, have been helping to lead the charge on these important issues.  If you would like to comment about this posting or to receive more information, email whpartnerships (at) or partnerships (at)

Joshua DuBois serves as Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.