The Future Services Institute introduces our collection of learning materials to enrich and grow the field of human services. Here, we have the FSI Briefs, our collection of practice-minded short papers featuring what we have learned from research, sector observation, and current trends impacting the future of human services. Don't miss out on our longer papers, the FSI Reports, showcasing deep dives into specific topics that are at the cutting edge of our sector.

 

FSI Briefs

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The Changing Composition of
Minnesota's Safety Net

Written by Weston Merrick, Robin Phinney, Colleen Heflin, and Yumiko Aratani
August 2017

This brief shares trends in Minnesota, where participants of federal welfare, food assistance, and disability programs became increasingly diverse. In addition, although educational attainment increased among program recipients, trends in employment were similar and many participants remained in deep poverty. These trends suggest the need for new approaches that align with changing participant needs. Read this brief >>

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Service Organization and Data Use: Learnings from the Workforce Development Field

Written by Weston Merrick
January 2018

Nonprofits understand that data can help allocate resources, improve service quality, and communicate impact. In practice, however, collecting, aligning, and deploying data across multi-level organizations is difficult. Participating organizations had a range of expertise and experience in using data. Organizations furthest along the data use continuum tended to share a collective understanding of the purpose of data and knew the appropriate actions to take when presented with information. Read this brief >> 

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Administrative Burden

Written by Weston Merrick
October 2018

This brief will discuss how changes in administrative requirements impact public service and assistance recipients, how these two concepts interact in agencies, and how to responsibly lower requirements. Read this brief >> 

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Assessing the Research Underpinning Whole Families Program Models

Written by Warren Lowell & Jodi Sandfort
May 2019

This Brief summarizes some of the studies and evaluations regarding Whole Families initiatives, focusing on those published in the last five years. We hope it will inform the development of new Whole Families programs. Read this brief >>

 
 

FSI Reports

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Developing a Two-Generational Policy Network in Minnesota: 2017 State Level Developments

Written by Rachel Kutcher and Jodi Sandfort
January 2018

This descriptive report highlights the activities of the Minnesota 2-Gen Policy Network in 2017. This includes the concept of a two-generational approach, examples of local sites doing work with this approach, and some implications for ways forward in Minnesota. Read this report >>

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Supporting Workers without College Degrees in Minnesota: Lessons for the Workforce Development Field

Written by Robin Phinney
March 2018

This report describes the key findings from the Minnesota Employer Survey, a statewide survey focused on employer activity related to less-skilled workers and engagement with the publicly-funded workforce development system. In addition to presenting key findings from the survey, the report situates the survey findings within existing social science research to provide context for understanding how employer practices matter for the employment and career advancement of less-skilled workers.  Read this report >>

 

Minnesota’s Approach to Welfare Reform: Trying to Support Families through the Implementation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Written by Jodi Sandfort, Sook Jin Ong, Robin Phinney
January 2018

This report summarizes how one state reacted to this change, using authority from the block grant structure. Through interviews with state and county administrators, we document how local program operators resisted paternalistic federal rulemaking to implement an alternative regime focused on positive outcomes for program participants. 

Read this report >>

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Social Science Foundation of the Pathways to Prosperity & Wellbeing Pilot Program

Written by Dr. Jodi R. Sandfort, Dr. Robin Phinney, & Weston Merrick
March 2019

The short-term goal of Pathways to Prosperity & Wellbeing is to develop, implement, and test a two-generational pilot program in local public human service agencies. This program offers customized responses to the needs of young families, integrating publicly-funded services to build their capacities and reduce the consequences of generational poverty. Read this report >>