What Do Counties Need from Social Tech During the COVID-19 Rapid Response?

Raise your hand if you’re with us: Running on full speed and still feeling like you’re barely making an impact. But we made it to the end of the week, with lessons learned and a deep renewal of our purpose.

The response to COVID-19 across every agency we work with connecting people to help has inspired us. But we know there’s so much more work to do, and this is just the beginning of what is sure to be a long journey. Here’s a quick update on what we’ve been focused on with our partners and clients this past week.

- We’ve been tracking the rapid changes made at the federal and state levels to critical safety-net programs, such as Medicaid and SNAP, analyzing ways that county and state agencies that administer these programs can streamline the eligibility and enrollment process right now. We’re working on a new website feature that collects the most relevant material for you from our Policy Innovation team — it debuts next week.

- Our California county clients are springing into action by adapting local programs and thinking ahead. An example of this is implementing immediate program changes that extend by 3 months the enrollments that are due for renewal in the next month or so. This will reduce the person-to-person interactions and agency visits required to fulfill renewal applications, and reduce stress around fear of losing coverage. That’s what we call social distancing for social good.

- We’ve also made modifications to our solution that serves many rural populations across California, allowing our county clients who use it to accept new applications over the phone and enabling applicants to provide consent to agency staff to sign on their behalf. This is a win-win for agency staff who are now working from home, as well as the people who are following orders to shelter in place. They surely don’t have the time to visit an office as they struggle with meeting their basic needs, such as getting food on the table.

- For more on what California is doing to address the impact of COVID-19 in key programs, check out our guide to CA Policy Changes to Streamline Eligibility and Enrollment.

- We’ve been doing a lot of listening, too: What do counties most need from all of us in social tech? Our President and CEO, Robert Phillips, who has been calling many counties to ask, shares this wish list:

  • Advice from trusted resources who understand the complexity of operations
  • Technology solutions that can “plug in” readily to existing systems
  • Fast-track procurement processes that make decision-making more efficient
  • SPEED and flexibility from everyone that wants to help
  • Do you have other ideas? Send your suggestions to connect@alluma.org

Finally, while we wait to hear about the stimulus or relief legislation, here are a few bright spots of news and resources that made us feel hopeful this week. We are #undaunted and #energized for the week ahead.

In solidarity,

Alluma