Awareness & Information

Access to information about what programs and services exist can help residents connect with the supports they need and prevent a downward cycle.

  • Raise awareness of existing programs and services for individuals and families.
  • Improve access to services through clear, simple, and multilingual communication.
  • Why This Strategy Matters

    Insights from residents show that people living in or near poverty often face urgent concerns and need immediate support. But many are unaware of all the available services that can help stabilize their situation, especially individuals with language barriers, mobility issues, or those new to the community—conditions more common for residents in poverty. Service providers also need to know what programs are offered by other nearby organizations to connect clients with services outside their expertise and to fill service gaps. Increasing access to information on social services can help providers improve their programs while making it easier for residents to access key services.

  • Potential Action Steps

    Use the Numbers in Need provider inventory and mapping tool to identify what agencies exist in the community.

    Raise awareness of other existing informational tools such as 2-1-1 WNY and

    Use social media to promote information tools and engage schools, libraries, media, churches, NFTA, human services providers, coalitions and neighborhood outreach operations to raise awareness.

    Maintain and strengthen inventories, directories and other information tools by keeping them up to date and building them into existing websites and informational packages delivered to new and existing residents.

    Engage ethnic media and cultural groups to promote culturally sensitive information. Ensure that information for residents is accessible to those with limited literacy and English proficiency.

  • Potential Actors in the Community

    All services providers
    Information, help and crisis lines
    Public school districts
    Churches and communities of faith
    Police departments

Models to Consider

  • Community Coalitions

    Community Resource Hubs

    Various locations in Western New York

    The Mobile Safety Net Team organized four Community Resource Hubs in different communities across Western New York. Each Hub is a project of a Community Coalition that brings together a variety of services including housing (repair, foreclosure, eviction), education and workforce training (HSE, ELL, continuing education, scholarships, training programs), legal services (consumer law, legal rights, eviction, foreclosure), health care (screenings, insurance, connect to care), youth services (summer and afterschool programs, counseling), senior services (housing, transportation, assisted living), utility assistance (assistance, shut-off, weatherizing), food assistance (SNAP, WIC, nutrition, local pantries) and more. In 2018, all four Hub-focused coalitions convened into a Hub Task Force with the goal of working collaboratively on key issue areas for the Hubs, including sustainability, staffing, marketing, communications, outreach, and relationship building.
  • Seattle Human Services Coalition

    Seattle, WA

    The City of Seattle’s Human services Coalition may be one of the strongest and most successful alliances of human services providers existing across the nation. The coalition has garnered an impressive amount of public funding, and it has raised a united voice on behalf of its members and their interests. Officially formed in 1987, the advocacy efforts of this 30+ years old group has resulted in public funding for basic human needs reach $83 million annually from the city’s general fund, in addition to locally levied funds. The coalition has also been instrumental in shaping policy, budget priorities and forcing decisions that consider impacts on the disenfranchised. With over 270 members, the group has sub-coalitions formed around topics of member expertise and interest: health, youth development, food, senior services, advancement and capacity building and more.
  • Lockport Resource Guide

    Lockport, NY

    Funded through the Grigg Lewis Foundation, Inc. and launched in 2019, the Lockport Resource Guide is a mobile application for Android and Apple that provides users with a categorized collection of service providers available in the Lockport community and Western New York. The application is a digital remaking of a formerly-printed guide created in partnership between the Mental Health Association, Lockport Family Focus Group, and the Grigg Lewis Foundation, Inc., with input from the Mobile Safety-Net Team and service providers in the community. Each provider section includes important information such as a description of available services, a phone number, a link to the organization's website, and the organization's address. Over time, the app will be updated to reflect changes in the services available in the community.
  • Why This Strategy Matters

    Individuals often must go through complicated, challenging processes to apply for and receive key services, based on insights from residents. For many who need services, like refugees and more than 18,000 residents with limited English fluency, these processes are even more difficult to navigate. Insights from providers also reveal that many residents in need of services have limited literacy and reading abilities. Simplifying communication about programs and services, providing information in multiple languages, and offering resources and guidance to help individuals navigate application processes can enable a broader group of residents to learn about and receive services.

  • Potential Action Steps

    Advocate for publicly funded/subsidized interpretation and translation services that can be affordably used by service providers on an as-needed basis.

    Encourage service providers to follow standardized readability guidelines for written materials to ensure they are accessible for a wider range of reading levels.

    Create a single resource that explains all available assistance programs in simple, easy to understand language. This resource could exist online or in print, and could be distributed to the offices of service providers so potential and existing clients can view it.

    Work with 2-1-1 WNY to offer additional phone services, where residents can not only call to learn about what services are available, but also talk through eligibility requirements, paperwork requirements, and service timelines with a qualified expert.

    Offering additional empathy and trauma-informed training to employees who work directly with the public to ensure clients are treated fairly, respectful, and with dignity.

  • Potential Actors in the Community

    All services providers
    Immigrant and refugee service providers
    Language assistance service providers

Models to Consider

  • Vera Institute Translating Justice Initiative

    Translating Justice Initiative

    New York, NY

    The Vera Institute of Justice began the Translating Justice Initiative in 2016 to help remove language barriers for victims of crimes who have limited proficiency in English, or are deaf or hard of hearing. The initiative develops and provides resources, training, and support to victim service providers, law enforcement agencies, legal service providers, and courts. By improving language accessibility, the initiative aims to enhance the justice system for all victims and ensure that justice is attainable and accessible regardless of language ability. The initiative is funded through a 3-year, $1 million US Department of Justice grant.
  • International Institute of Buffalo

    Buffalo, NY

    The International Institute of Buffalo provides services for new Americans, including integration; refugee resettlement and employment programs; services to survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking; and global education programs for students, adults, and businesses. In addition to these services, the non-profit organization offers translation and interpretation services to assist other service providers in communicating with refugees and immigrants, for a fee. Translation services are available in over 60 languages, and more than 200 trained and certified interpreters offer services in over 100 languages. In 2018, the organization completed 14,228 interpreting jobs and 841 translation jobs. With a 2018 budget of about $3.5 million, the International Institute of Buffalo is funded through program fees; private, foundation, and government grants; individual donations; and fundraising events.
  • New York City Language Access Plan

    NYC Human Resources Administration Language Access Implementation Plan

    New York, NY

    The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) completed a Language Access Implementation Plan in 2018 that provided background information on the importance of language accessibility, and laid out strategies to increase access to human services for non-English speaking residents by meeting the diverse language needs of the community. Strategies include in-person interpretation by multilingual employees, telephone interpretation services, translation of materials both in print and on the web, and digital tools like a mobile app available in multiple languages. The Plan sets goals and milestones with deadlines for implementation, and aims to update the plan every three years as HRA monitors their progress and adapts strategies.

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