Community Living Connections: Creating a New Way of Doing Business
The Collaborative Funding Process is a new approach to investments that enables agencies that deliver services to determine how they will collectively do the work. Unlike a traditional funding process where a panel makes funding recommendations, agencies that deliver Community Living Connections services in Seattle and King County are deciding each agency’s funding allocation and service expectations through a collaborative method.
Community Living Connections is a network that serves older people, adults with disabilities, and their caregivers in King County. The network provides information and assistance, individual consultation and support, care coordination, and supportive services for caregivers to enable them to live in their homes and communities.
The process began in the Fall 2018 with the Community Living Connections Request for Qualification (RFQ) through which 22 agencies were qualified as service providers (see “Agencies Selected to Collaborate on New Service Delivery Networks”). One additional agency also participated in a seven-month process to develop a comprehensive and collaborative network, and to identify funding and service delivery levels for each of the network provider agencies.
Jay Kang, deputy operations and development director at Korean Women’s Association, supported the collaborative approach. “Before, decisions were made from the top down,” he said. “In this process, the network is emphasized, and the network decides. This process is all about collaboration.”
ADS contracted with Baker Consulting (Kevin Baker and Donald Felder) to provide technical assistance and facilitate collaboration among the agencies. Agencies met every three weeks for four hours each meeting to discuss their programs and services with the goal of creating a network of agencies that provide an array of access, support, and information services for older adults, adults with disabilities, and their caregivers living in King County.
“The network is more than just you,” commented Margaret Boddie, who directs the African American Elders Program at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. “We need to think about the population [and remain] client focused.”
With no new monies and new agencies at the table, current providers voluntarily reduced their funding to allow new agencies to enter the network. It was a struggle, but they found value in adding new agencies.
“When I made cuts [to my budget], I was thinking of other agencies that we want to make room for,” said G De Castro, director of aging and adult services at Asian Counseling and Referral Service. “Equity isn’t only about speaking for our communities but listening to needs in other communities.”
Collaboration enabled network expansion to support new agencies serving LGBTQ and south Asian elders and African American caregivers, and the network now has greater capacity for south King County residents, and improved access to transportation services.
“Having a shared experience is a great foundation for our network moving forward,” said Julie Romero, who directs Neighborhood House’s aging and disability services. “We have a better sense of agency,” she added, with better understanding of the new providers and strengthened partnerships and relationships.
Audrey Buehring, deputy director of the Seattle Human Services Department, is excited at what the network accomplished. “The department is moving toward transformational change in our funding process,” she said. “Elements of the Collaborative Funding Process may be used in future funding opportunities.”
“Change comes with struggle,” commented consultant Kevin Baker. “Government took a new approach—it changed from the way it has done business in the past. Through authentic community engagement, Community Living Connections providers worked through the struggle that comes with change and created a new way of doing business.”
For more information about the Collaborative Funding Process or Community Living Connections network, e-mail senior planner Angela Miyamoto (Angela.Miyamoto@seattle.gov) or planner Allison Boll (Allison.Boll@seattle.gov) at Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle and King County.
This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of AgeWise King County.