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March - 2015
SAMHSA Announces 2015 Continuum of Care (CoC) SOAR Technical Assistance Awards
This year, 23 CoCs around the country expressed interest in receiving technical assistance from the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center. We had an excellent applicant pool this year, as there were a large number of well-qualified applications. The SOAR TA Center was able to select five CoCs for the technical assistance award. Congratulations to the selected CoCs:
Florida 507 (Homeless Services Network of Central Florida)
Alabama 507 (Balance of State)
Sonoma County, CA
California 518 (Vallejo/Solano County)
Richland County, SC (Midlands Area Coalition for the Homeless)
With the assistance of the SOAR TA Center, each CoC lead will attend a Leadership Academy, organize a strategic planning forum, and implement SOAR in their communities. Thank you to all of the CoCs that applied - your dedication to SOAR is inspiring!
Sharing Our Successes
On February 25, 2015, the SOAR TA Center hosted the Presenting 2014 SOAR Outcomes and SOAR Superstars webinar. The SOAR TA Center highlighted the accomplishments of the past year and provided strategies that states could use to have greater success in 2015. We were fortunate to have representatives from Kansas, Florida, Arkansas, and Mississippi present on the webinar to relate their experiences and lessons learned from implementing SOAR. Thank you to our presenters!
On February 4, 2015, SOAR TA Center Project Director, Kristin Lupfer, presented on SAMHSA's Homeless and Housing Resource Network's webinar, Innovative Strategies for Funding SOAR Programs. SOAR State Team Leads from Colorado and North Carolina discussed the strategies and opportunities they have implemented to support SOAR dedicated benefits specialists.
State Success Story
Rhode Island: Over the past few months, Rhode Island's SOAR program has expanded its reach by training and providing ongoing support to local university students acting as SOAR case managers. While this initiative is still in its pilot phase, it has demonstrated itself to be of benefit to all involved. Utilizing students allows the program to serve a greater number of clients, offers a timely and positive process for applicants, and provides a unique learning opportunity for students.
The pilot saw its first successful outcome for a young applicant from the community. The applicant worked with Elizabeth Garcia, a student at Brown University and a member ofHousing Opportunities for People Everywhere, a student group dedicated to addressing homelessness issues in Rhode Island. After receiving presumptive eligibility at the start of the year, the applicant's case received final approval this month.
Both the applicant and Elizabeth have spoken about how positive the experience was for them. The applicant said, "It was peer-level. It was much more comfortable for me as a younger adult to deal with someone on that level. As a fellow college graduate, that relatability made the process comfortable." Similarly, Elizabeth stated, "The most meaningful part of this experience was knowing that I could help the applicant successfully receive the assistance they need and deserve...to know that we were able to work through this process together, trust each other to follow through, and accomplish the end goal, means so much to me."
From the program coordinator's perspective, this was also a tremendously rewarding experience. By providing support and technical assistance (including collaboratively editing the Medical Summary Report before submission), the program was able to increase its capacity to provide high-quality services to applicants while providing a learning experience for the students. Rhode Island's SOAR program is looking forward to scaling up this initiative, and is thrilled to have Elizabeth and the applicant's success to build upon. Way to go, Rhode Island!
EEOC Joins Federal Partners to Produce Resource Guide for Employers
On Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at a Summit on Disability and Employment, the White House announced a new guide for employers that compiles key federal and federally funded resources related to the employment of people with disabilities. The resource guide, Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities, provides employers with plain language technical assistance tools in an easy-to-use question-and-answer format. The guide was produced by the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative -- a federal interagency effort working to increase equal employment opportunities and financial independence for people with disabilities. Read the full press release.
Social Security Order of Preference in Selecting a Representative Payee
Social Security's Representative Payee Program provides financial management for the Social Security and SSI payments of beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their Social Security or SSI payments. Generally, Social Security looks for family or friends to serve as representative payees. When friends or family are not able to serve as payees, Social Security looks for qualified individuals or organizations to be representative payees. As a guide in selecting a representative payee, categories of preferred payees have been established. View the preference hierarchy.
Social Security Advisory Board Announces Final Report of the 2014 Disability Policy Panel
Congress should appropriate funds to eliminate the backlog of CDRs and ensure future funding optimizes savings to the Disability Trust Fund and Treasury;
Congress should retain the current medical review standard and provide training to ensure consistent application;
SSA should provide more resources to review disability decisions and for teams to investigate fraud;
Congress should expand programs that help disability beneficiaries return to work; and
SSA should modify its disability programs for children and youth to set an expectation of work as an adult and offer more work supports.
my Social Security Accounts
Social Security is offering a new online service to help people who receive Social Security benefits have the information they need to file their tax returns. If you didn't receive or misplaced your SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S, you can now use an online my Social Security account to get an instant replacement for tax purposes. Setting up an account is easy, secure, and convenient. Learn more at: www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Center for Mental Health Services are accepting applications for fiscal year 2015 Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals for States grants. The purpose of this jointly funded program is to enhance or develop the infrastructure of states and their treatment service systems to increase capacity and provide accessible, effective, comprehensive, coordinated/integrated, and evidence-based treatment services; permanent supportive housing; peer supports; and other recovery support services to:
Individuals who experience chronic homelessness and have substance use disorders, serious mental illnesses (SMI), or co-occurring mental and substance use disorders; and/or
Veterans who experience homelessness/chronic homelessness and have substance use disorders, SMI, or co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.
One of the grantee requirements is to: "Hire a full-time SOAR Specialist to increase access to the disability income benefit programs for the population(s) of focus."
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Since 2008, the foundation has provided financial support to over 40 organizations that provide direct supports, like SOAR, to people who are experiencing homelessness to help them achieve long-term housing stability. Information including about past grants, eligibility, and how to apply can be accessed here.
The Mercy Foundation's "Grants to End Homelessness" are available for initiatives, services, projects, and research that contribute to the goal of ending homelessness. Projects that focus on chronic homelessness and women who experience chronic homelessness are current funding priority areas. More information can be accessed here.
Need to Update Your Computers or Software?
TechSoup is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that connects nonprofits with technological products and services, as well as learning resources to help individuals make informed decisions about technology. Its free resources are available to all users. Once registered and qualified with TechSoup, nonprofits can access donated and discounted products and services from companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, Intuit, and Symantec. More information can be accessed here.
Recent Stories from the SOAR Voices Blog
Question: How does Social Security decide whether I am disabled? Answer: For an adult, disability under Social Security law is based on your inability to work because of a disabling condition. Read more...
More than a Statistic
In my former life, as a case manager in a men's homeless shelter, one of my favorite parts of my job was getting to work on SOAR cases. I loved helping clients in such a meaningful way by getting them benefits that they desperately needed and were entitled to, and it gave me a much better understanding of who they were and what else I could help them with. Read more...
From Trainers to Local Leads: Transitions in SOAR
Over the past year, many transitions have occurred at the national SOAR TA Center: we entered into a new contract with SAMHSA, transitioned from in-person trainings to the SOAR online course as the predominant method of training, and created a new national training model known as the SOAR Leadership Academies. Read more...