Designing a Roadmap to Improve Verifications for Benefit Programs in California
In 2018, Social Interest Solutions (SIS) conducted an extensive policy and technical analysis of the existing verification process used by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) when individuals and families apply for CalFresh and CalWORKs. The final, comprehensive report, The State Hub Roadmap: CDSS CalFresh & CalWORKs Streamlining Verifications, offers both simple improvements to existing systems as well as a detailed plan for a developing a verification “hub” that the state could build in the long term.
The analysis — based on detailed technical and policy research, interviews with experts, focus groups, and site visits — utilized a human-centered design approach to understand the current verification landscape in California. Based on that analysis, SIS provided a range of short-, medium-, and long-term recommendations on how California could make the verification process for multiple state programs easier more efficient and accurate for the counties and state.
Key recommendations for CDSS to implement range from the technical (expand statewide access to real-time data sources, build the aforementioned centralized verification hub) to the non-technical (promote policy alignment across programs, utilize performance metrics and tools). The roadmap also provides insight into the many barriers faced by Californians trying to enroll in state programs, including the lack of clarity and transparency throughout the application process, the need to repeatedly provide the same documentation, and the lack of online submission portals and self-service scanning devices.