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First States Partner With CfA’s Safety Net Innovation Lab

Four states have committed to partner with Code for America’s recently launched Safety Net Innovation Lab in the first of three cohorts to help transform how such services are delivered to the public.

A store’s front door displays sign saying “We accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).”
In an announcement earlier today, Code for America unveiled that four states — California, Colorado, Connecticut and Louisiana — have committed to partner with the Safety Net Innovation Lab.

The Lab, as it’s also known, was first announced and launched last month with $100 million in funding through The Audacious Project and Blue Meridian Partners to enable work with government agencies in 15 states over seven years to improve social safety net service delivery. The areas of focus will be food assistance, health care and other basic needs.

These states — along with one other state that will be announced at a later date — mark the first of three cohorts that will participate in the effort to transform social safety net services by improving SNAP service delivery, increasing WIC participation, and developing and improving integrated benefits applications.

California, Connecticut and Louisiana will focus their efforts on food assistance benefits, while Colorado will focus on integrated benefits.

In California, CfA will work with the California Department of Social Services to help improve SNAP outreach to hard-to-reach populations. The state of Colorado will work with CfA to streamline online benefits applications through design. In Connecticut, the Department of Social Services will work with CfA to improve participation and experience. And in Louisiana, the Department of Children and Family Services will work with CfA to improve the tools and application process for SNAP benefits.

“After listening to the needs of our community, we are taking action to improve equitable access to social safety net benefits in Louisiana, specifically by revisiting our integrated benefits application portal and reducing the time it takes to apply and process SNAP applications,” said Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services Deputy Secretary Terri Ricks in the announcement.

CfA team members that will work with states on these efforts include engineers, product managers, researchers and designers.

The partnerships with states will involve three phases of work: 1) Insight and Impact, 2) Design and Deliver, and 3) Handoff and Sustain. First, the partners will decide what solution opportunities may have the biggest impact, which will be built and scaled in an iterative process over 12 to 18 months in the second phase. In the final six to nine months, solutions will be transitioned into the hands of the states, or vendors the states choose to work with, at the end of the partnerships.

CfA will share lessons learned during the process to help other states with their work in this space.

Government representatives interested in joining the next cohort can complete CfA’s Request for Information on its website.