United Way helping roll out statewide assistance program

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 22, 2019

SALISBURY — By the start of 2020, nonprofits, government agencies and health care-focused businesses will begin rolling out what Rowan County United Way Director Jenny Lee calls “211 on steroids.”

Called N.C. Care 360, the new program is an initiative of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services and the result of a public-private partnership with the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation. It aims to be the state’s first coordinated care network to connect people to resources such as housing, health care, food and jobs, among other things. It’s a web-based program that employees of agencies such as the Department of Social Services and Rowan Helping Ministries could use to refer clients to services their organization doesn’t provide.

While the United Way’s 211 service provides information about and referrals to programs in North Carolina, Lee said N.C. Care 360 would be particularly valuable because it would include health care providers such as Novant Health, too.

“It’s taking health and human services and bridging them together in a full-circle approach,” Lee said. “So, now where we just make the referrals, we’ll know if the referral was received or not and if the person followed through.”

A group of community leaders gathered Monday at the Rowan County United Way to learn about the program, which is rolling out slowly across the state with the United Way’s help. The program’s rollout won’t change the availability of 211, accessible by dialing the three digits on a phone.

Kyna Grubb, executive director of Rowan Helping Ministries, said the nonprofit currently uses email, phone calls or piece of paper to refer clients to other services in the community. But it can be difficult to track whether people have received help already.

Social Services, Rowan Helping Ministries and the Salvation Army previously operated a similar system to N.C. Care 360.

“When DSS was running Christmas Happiness, families would come to DSS, then they would go to Salvation Army and then they would go to Rowan Helping Ministries to get help,” said Rowan County Social Services Director Donna Fayko. “We had no way of connecting everything.”

The solution, she said, was to create a tracking system called the Crisis Network System.

“So, then we could unduplicate services and spread our resources to the much broader community,” she said.

The most promising part of N.C. Care 360, she said, is the interconnectivity — that is, seeing where folks have been referred, whether he or she followed through and where the person needs to go next.

Grubb, Fayko and others on Monday said they were excited about the possibilities of the program and offered questions about its implementation: How would it interact with other programs they used? Who is able to use it? Can some entities sign up only to refer people rather than offer services?

There are still meetings to come before full implementation in Rowan County, and Mikayla Gaspary, who works for the software company Unite Us, said local agencies don’t need to enter 2020 ready to operate the program at peak performance.

Gaspary also described N.C. Care 360 as a provider-to-provider program. Currently, individual people cannot use the N.C. Care 360 application to search for services. Instead, there’s an assistance request form available at nccare360.org.