April 2004

Grant Results

SUMMARY

From 2002 to 2003, the American Dream Project of Wayne, N.J. developed a model crisis intervention program targeting middle-income individuals in need of socioeconomic assistance while suffering a health-care crisis who were ineligible or underserved by traditional social services.

Key Results

  • Project staff constructed assessment tools and a simple operational design that could easily serve as a guide to or be emulated by other social service agencies, both government and private.
  • Project staff conducted both formal and informal in-service training sessions for seven social service agencies, both government and private.
  • Project staff provided services to 70 clients, including:
    • Emergency medication for a young, single mother with cancer who had been terminated from Medicaid.
    • Two months of emergency rent money for a client waiting for surgery whose disability income was insufficient to cover her living expenses.
    • Transportation for a disabled veteran to a Veterans Administration facility for treatment, service evaluation and follow-up.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $49,852 to support the project from February 2002 to June 2003.

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THE PROBLEM

Families in need who are unable to obtain the treatment, services, finances or counseling they need can face devastating financial, physical and emotional consequences when they experience a medical crisis. Many in this situation are ineligible for Medicaid, emergency community assistance or insurance benefits, and do not have the means to obtain what they need through any other resource.

Subsequently, they become caught in a serious downward socioeconomic slide toward irreversible debt and bankruptcy. This can lead to homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence and further medical and psychosocial deterioration, according to the American Dream Project, a non-profit social service organization. With timely, focused, short-term support, however, many of these families can become stabilized and avoid further crisis; others need transition time to stabilize at a different modality of living.

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THE PROJECT

One goal of the crisis intervention project was to create a model that other social service and government organizations could use to respond to the needs of people who are faced with a medical crisis, but who are ineligible for traditional social services. Project staff developed a screening process to identify clients who were ineligible for Medicaid and other mainstream resources or who faced gaps in services from other programs or could not obtain any services.

Services provided on a short-term basis included psychosocial assessment to identify needs; crisis intervention; individual, family and group counseling; financial assistance; and referral to other social service organizations and community resources (such as home and respite care, transportation, budget counseling, medication, food, nutritional assistance, legal assistance and housing programs).

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RESULTS

The project director reported the following accomplishments to RWJF:

  • Project staff constructed assessment tools and a simplistic operational design that could easily serve as a guide to or be emulated by other social service agencies, both government and private.
  • Project staff conducted both formal and informal in-service training sessions for seven social service agencies, both government and private. Training topics included the goals and ideology of the project, its eligibility guidelines and application procedure, and the need for simplification of the social service delivery system, with the project introduced as a possible model.
  • Project staff provided services to 70 clients, including:
    1. Emergency medication for a young, single mother with cancer who had been terminated from Medicaid.
    2. Two months of emergency rent money for a client waiting for surgery whose disability income was insufficient to cover her living expenses.
    3. Transportation for a disabled veteran to a Veterans Administration facility for treatment, service evaluation and follow-up.
    4. Direct supplemental financial assistance for cardiac rehabilitation for a client that would not have received treatment had the program not stepped in.
    5. Numerous home-care services for young disabled and elderly patients.
    6. A variety of medical equipment needed by the elderly and disabled populations.
  • Project staff elicited extensive in-kind support from the community in response to fundraising and networking activities. In-kind support included contributions such as ongoing ambulance services valued at more than $16,000; food and clothing; volunteer workers for the project; office space; and community partnerships with area medical centers, home-care agencies, boards of social services, district Medicaid offices and a Councilwoman's office.

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LESSONS LEARNED

In a final report and follow-up communication with RWJF, the project director outlined the following lessons for the field that emerged from the project:

  1. The investment of time at the outset to design the fundamental criteria for referral and provide adequate training to the referring agencies was critical to the program's accomplishments. This model social services program required flexible guidelines, a streamlined application process and creative problem solving in order to serve the most people without bureaucratic obstructions, while being fiscally responsible. Agencies were not accustomed to the project's innovative, flexible problem-solving approach, but thorough in-service training addressed the problem. (Project Director)
  2. Designing a pilot project that remained a controlled operation, deliberately unpublished to avoid referrals by the public, avoided a chaotic situation that could have ensued considering the dire need for the services the project provided. Project staff recognized early the potential public response to the never-before-offered services and decided to initiate the project as a pilot, offered in controlled circumstances. Delaying introducing the project more generally to the public allowed time ability to develop the organization properly and lay a stronger foundation for later expansion. (Project Director)

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AFTER THE GRANT

The project is continues with donated time, office space, and services. Since the close of the grant period, the project has served 26 new clients. The organization is seeking ongoing financial support; a new fundraising campaign was set to start in the spring of 2004. The project director reports receiving some 20 inquiries about the project from other counties in New Jersey (and one from Florida), from agencies and professionals trying to address similar needs. Volunteers are developing a project videotape and Web site.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Providing Crisis Intervention for Families Experiencing a Medical Problem

Grantee

The American Dream Project (Wayne,  NJ)

  • Amount: $ 49,852
    Dates: February 2002 to June 2003
    ID#:  042925

Contact

Marie H. Kazazian, L.C.S.W.
(973) 305-9040
adp97@optonline.net

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Report prepared by: Jan Hempel
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Nancy L. Barrand