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211 Nebraska Uses ReferralQ and Provider Portal to Partner with Help Me Grow

children raising their hands in a classroom

Background

211 Nebraska is a free, comprehensive information and referral system and one-stop source of information for Nebraskans in need of assistance. The specialists at the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) Accredited contact center assess a help-seeker’s situation and then utilize an extensive, up-to-date database to find the best resource(s) to meet their needs. They act as a single point of contact for thousands of health and human service programs, community services, disaster services and governmental programs.

Help Me Grow, a national initiative comprised of 99 Help Me Grow systems and 31 state affiliates1 across the United States, is one of the community programs that partners with 211 in Nebraska. The first five years of a child’s life are extremely important to their overall health and development, but the systems serving young children can often be complex and siloed, leading to families that are overwhelmed and frustrated, who can easily miss out on eligible services due to service gaps and a lack of coordination or integration among agencies providing services. The goal of Help Me Grow is to connect families to information about child development and community resources following a core system model built on:

  • A Centralized Access Point to assist families and professionals in connecting children to the grid of community resources.
  • Family and Community Outreach to build parent and provider understanding of healthy child development, supportive services available to families in the community, and how both are important to improving children’s outcomes.
  • Child Health Care Provider Outreach supports early detection and intervention efforts and connects medical providers to the grid of community resources to best support families. This is important because early intervention is a key to successfully intervening and addressing any potential concerns.
  • Data Collection and Analysis supports evaluation, helps identify systemic gaps, bolsters advocacy efforts, guides quality improvement, and makes sure the resource grid is working effectively.

It is common for 211 contact centers in the United States to take part in Help Me Grow initiatives, sometimes by serving as the Centralized Access Point or acting as the hub through which referrals to Help Me Grow are made.

The Challenge

In 2020, 211 Nebraska entered into a partnership with Help Me Grow for one county in Nebraska, with potential to expand statewide in the future. The 211 contact center would act as a point of entry for referrals to Help Me Grow, and would connect potential clients with the Help Me Grow providers for further assessment and program enrollment. To make this partnership work, 211 Nebraska had to address several challenges.

First, they needed a way to conduct the preliminary assessment for families referred to the program, to determine eligibility and appropriateness of the referral to be further assessed to access Help Me Grow. The staff of 211 had to ensure there were security measures in place to protect client confidentiality, with a way to directly and securely share client information only with the partners or referred providers, and not a larger pool of recipients who may not be authorized to view information about the potential clients. In order to minimize resources spent on training and onboarding providers on the technology involved in sharing/receiving referrals, they required a solution that was not too complex in design or difficult to use. The utilized solution must accommodate people of various technical capabilities, and not be so labor intensive that it could take precious time away from caseloads and performing service delivery. Finally, part of 211’s role in the partnership was to make a final contact with clients of Help Me Grow at the end of program involvement to close the loop and collect outcome data. Program administrators needed a single technological solution that could meet all of these requirements.

The Solution: iCarol ReferralQ and Provider Portal

father reading a story to his childPhysicians and other professionals will contact Nebraska 211 when they see a child who may have development or behavioral health issues, whose families they feel would benefit from Help Me Grow services. 211 receives the initial contact information for the family by fax, email, or phone call.

Once 211 receives the information, they must further screen and assess the referred family to see if they qualify for more detailed assessment by Help Me Grow partners. The staff of 211 contacts the family to gather more detailed information in order to qualify it, and use iCarol to document the interaction and conduct an initial assessment. The information is stored as a Contact Form in their iCarol system. If the assessment findings do not meet the criteria for Help Me Grow, 211 will work to connect the family with other appropriate referrals that can assist the family further, using the resources stored in their iCarol Resource Database.

If 211’s screening process shows that the family is qualified for the next steps to access Help Me Grow, they take some additional steps in their iCarol system. Staff assign the iCarol completed assessment Contact Record to a ReferralQ dashboard specific to the Help Me Grow program. In this dashboard they can sort, filter, and search through the assessments that were handled and referred to Help Me Grow, and see the status of each. Next, staff document the referral to Help Me Grow using the resource search and referral processes of their iCarol Resource Database, making the referral to the Help Me Grow partners at the Munroe-Meyer Institute for further assessment and qualification for the program.

Now that the screening process is complete and the family is qualified for further assessment, the Munroe-Meyer Institute needs a secure way to access the referral information so they can take the next steps. To do this, 211 uses the iCarol Provider Portal to grant Munroe-Meyer Institute staff access to the assessment and contact information for the family. Nebraska 211 grants access to individual staff members at the institute to ensure that only authorized individuals can log in to obtain the information. They have complete control and can revoke this access at any time. For example, if a staff member at Munroe-Meyer retires or resigns, they can immediately remove that person’s access to the Provider Portal.

Once signed in to the Provider Portal, Munroe-Meyer Institute staff are able to see the Contact Record Assessment assigned to their program so that they can contact the referred family. They can also update the status of the referral as the family accesses services, so that Nebraska 211 can see how the family is moving through the process. When the family has reached the end of their relationship with Help Me Grow and the case is eventually closed, the very last touch the family has is with 211 who does a final follow-up call. This completes loop of information back at the source, and allows 211 to work with the family again to discuss final outcomes, collect any other relevant information for reporting, and see if any additional referrals could be helpful.

Benefits

Nebraska 211 experienced several benefits to using iCarol to administer their Help Me Grow screening and referral partnership. Because the organization already uses iCarol for other tasks related to the contact center — call documentation, information and referral, volunteer management and scheduling, statistical reporting, and more — use of iCarol’s ReferralQ and Provider Portal involved simply folding in more iCarol functionality to their existing tasks and services. The staff were already familiar with the systems and required very little training to carry out these new tasks in iCarol. The product met their needs for safe sharing of the initial assessments of clients referred to the program, and staff of the Munroe-Meyer Institute were able to get the information they needed easily and securely. The functionality allowed staff of both 211 and the Munroe-Meyer Institute to share information needed to do the work without needing to make phone calls, write up emails, or send faxes, saving time that could be reallocated to other programs and tasks. The sharing of information, and Munroe-Meyer Institute’s ability to update the client’s status as they moved through the program, allowed 211 to fulfill their duties to close the loop on the referral and conduct vital outcome data collection once clients graduated from the program. It also ensured closure of previous service gaps, as 211 staff could identify any remaining needs of the family and continue providing referrals and other resources.

Now that they have the ReferralQ and Provider Portal products enabled, 211 Nebraska can add new ReferralQ Dashboards and Provider Portal users, opening up new possibilities for future partnerships and usage of the platform.

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