Yes, Let’s Build a Human-Centered Safety Net

If we are going to make a difference to tens of millions of people in need and make sure that society’s support centers are up to the task, then we need make sure that we are being human-centered for both applicants (benefit recipients) and the people doing the work to deliver those benefits, all at the same time. — Dan Hon, Code for America

Code for America recently hosted a webinar called Delivering a Human-Centered Social Safety Net in a Time of Crisis. The webinar explored the responsiveness of the safety net during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those in attendance also learned about how state agencies are operating with a higher number of cases with limited bandwidth: states like Nevada, Washington, and Texas can serve as models for service delivery when it comes to connecting people to support in the current crisis.


A people-first solution has to flex to the complexities in people’s lives, from supporting multi-benefit eligibility determination to giving assisters the tools they need to support their clients


For example, Nevada was able to change their policies and streamline their processes to achieve “first contact resolution,” enabling agency staff to make eligibility determinations upon first contact with the application, saving workers and applicants time. That meant incorporating changes that put the safety and connection of people first, such as developing waivers to ensure people didn’t have to go into an office to conduct an interview.

At Alluma, we know that, now more than ever, states and counties need to come together to make eligibility systems more efficient and create more cohesive eligibility rules when it comes to making determinations across programs.

“Policy changes alone aren’t enough — systems must be able to talk to each other and connect people to help as efficiently as possible.” — Catherine Hamilton, Alluma

One way states can do this is by adjusting rules across programs that create additional opportunities for streamlining. We also know that a people-first solution has to flex to the complexities in people’s lives, from supporting multi-benefit eligibility determination to giving assisters the tools they need to support their clients.

We appreciate Code for America for elevating the conversation on the role human-centeredness plays in work that we all do. In a time where government, agencies, and organizations are working hard to assist those in need, implementing a human-centered approach in the work we do helps us accomplish what we do best: connecting people to critical services.

Curious to learn more about how states and agencies are delivering human-centered services? Watch the full webinar here.