Monday, July 26 | Client Success Stories, Human Services

Creating Opportunities in Human Services: Two Insiders’ View

By Keith Boushee, Director, Community Strategist

What would you do if you saw no walls?

The human services landscape is everchanging. Demand for mental health services continues to rise, market competition is quickly growing, and service lines are expanding. The need for connected, holistic care is becoming more and more important as individuals are often failed by a fragmented system when care is not coordinated. When faced with these kinds of industry changes or seeming disruptions, it’s easy for provider organizations to view them as obstacles. What if we saw opportunities instead of accepting obstacles?

In a recent webinar, fellow Community Strategist, Melissa Boyd, and I discussed how meeting changing demands, staying competitive and supporting whole-person, connected care requires human services agencies to adapt to disruptions, develop a strategic plan and create opportunities for diversification and growth.

One of the biggest avenues to more opportunities is additional funding. In other words, everyone needs more money. Because as the saying goes, there is no such a thing as a free lunch. But there is often grant funding. Obtaining grants can help your organization gain resources and support, expand services lines and offer more comprehensive, person-centered care.

When we look at funding 2021-2022 priorities, there are a couple notable mentions:

  • $1.6 billion into Community Mental Health Block Grants to respond to the strain on our nation’s mental health care system. The budget includes $375 million in the CCBHC grant program.
  • $3.5 billion into the Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Block Grant with a new 10% recovery support services set-aside.
  • The American Jobs Plan calls for $400 billion in spending to expand access to Medicaid home – and community-based services for those currently on waiting lists.
  • $39 billion in the American Rescue Plan to help the struggling childcare sector recover from an unprecedented year of revenue losses.

Grants are continuously coming and going – there’s no specific “grant season.” While opportunities are always around the corner, it’s important for your organization to determine which funding grants are best for your future vision.

As Community Strategists, one of Melissa and my top priorities is helping clients find and achieve grants. A question we like to ask our partner providers is “What would you do if you had the funding?” When devising a strategic plan to keep up with a changing competitive market, human services providers must think proactively about innovations and additions they would make if they already had the money. If your strategic plan is still based in a pre-pandemic world, now is the time for review and revision. Consider as well that grant funding may allow you to repurpose money in your current budget that’s  marked for something else.

Think of it like this – a grant never made a bad idea good. Don’t wait for the funding to be available to decide what you want to do. Often times the window of opportunity is quick, such as the one-week turnaround with the Federal Communications Commission Telehealth Program of 2021. When thinking through your strategic planning, ask yourself how funding would take your organization or services to the next level? Diversify service lines, integrate with primary care, facilitate crisis services, pursue a new partnership; the possibilities go on and on, depending on what’s best for your organization.

Of course, there is much more that goes into receiving grants than determining what you’ll do with the funding. You have to find and apply for the grants. As I mentioned, Melissa and I advocate and search for client funding opportunities as Community Strategists, and your partner technology provider should be doing the same. It is also beneficial, if possible, to have a dedicated resource within your agency who can actively look for grant funding and complete the application and necessary paperwork.

In addition to internal support, ensure your organization is plugged into additional resources such as state and county associations. These resources will serve as advocates for additional funding and are well in the know when it comes to upcoming grants. As we discussed more in depth in the webinar, there are supports at the national, state and local level out there to help you find and achieve more funding.

In addition to funding, opportunities for growth can be found in partnerships, too. Collaborating with another agency can fill a gap in your current service model or increase your geographical service footprint. Circling back to the funding, partnerships can also fill a need in a grant application process, allow you to meet a value-based contract with a payer or offer additional resources or staffing support to pursue new service lines.

The key take away is to discover and take advantage of new opportunities in various forms. Grants can be a gamechanger for your organization, helping you eliminate fragmented care, expand your service reach and boost your bottom line. Check out the full webinar to learn more about grant funding, how peer organizations are responding to market changes and in-depth industry trends and happenings.



Meet the Author

Keith Boushee · Director, Community Strategist


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