AHS Field Services
The Field Services Division was created in 2004 as a result of the AHS Reorganization to maximize the effectiveness of the human services system in each region of the state. The Division's scope covers the entire Agency of Human Services, including services provided by private designated and contracted organizations. An AHS Field Director has been established in each of the 12 AHS districts of the state to unify human services and to build a system focused on excellent customer service, the holistic needs of individuals and families, strength-based relationships, and improving results for Vermonters.
Foundational Elements of AHS Field Services
Service Coordination: Service Coordinators, located in all 12 AHS districts, ensure that individuals or families with complex needs have a holistic, effective and well coordinated service delivery package that eliminates service duplications and identifies a lead case manager.
- "Working with my service coordinator, we were able to bring together a service team for a very complex case that had many agencies involved and were at cross-purposes. The service coordinator in not only knowledgeable of resources and system, she is very skilled at helping to clarify issues, one at a time, in a non-threatening and respectful manner. Due to clear communication and patient problem-solving, we left on a very positive note with a clear plan for the family that all members of the team could subscribe to."
Direct Service Dollars: Direct service dollars are designed to temporarily support individuals and families in need when those needs fall into gaps within the current system and cannot be met with any other categorical resources.
- A Field Director had a call from a customer supported by AHS in the last year, "just to tell me and the Disability Program Navigator that he has secured a job on a local farm, has a place to live that he is ecstatic about, and is making $10/hour. This is after almost a year of living in very temporary housing, - in part funded by AHS, and receiving considerable support from our system of care. It was great to hear him doing so well and moving toward self sufficiency..."
District Leadership Teams: The District Leadership Teams are comprised of district service delivery organizational leaders, both State and private, engaged in community-wide planning and assessment to support the Field Director in implementing the agenda of the Agency of Human Services and are dedicated to improving the outcomes for all Vermonters.
Regional Advisory Councils: The Advisory Councils are made up of individuals and family members served by AHS who advise, support and guide the Field Director in the development and implementation of strategies to improve the functioning of the Agency of Human Services and its outcomes. The Councils meet three times a year with the AHS Secretary and the Field Services Division to advise them on policy, practice and resource issues in the districts.
Peer Navigators: The Peer Navigators were developed through a statewide collaboration with family organizations and a Federal Grant to offer individuals and family members with disabilities the support of someone who has experienced the system as a consumer. Located in every AHS district, Peer Navigators assist individuals and families to access and navigate the health, education and human service systems. At any given time during FY2006, Peer Navigators were serving an average of 200 Vermont families.
Access to AHS System: Field Services has been involved in the partnership with Vermont 2-1-1 to expand its database and statewide usage to offer Vermonters access to community resources information and referral. Additionally, we support utilization of the AHS Screen Door, an internet-based screening tool to help determine eligibility for supports. With the development of warm and welcoming district environments and Information, Referral and Assistance (I,R&A) centers, Field Services seeks to create an environment which connects Vermonters to AHS supports in an effective and respectful way.
New Agency Team: The New Agency Team (NAT), comprised of representatives of policy executives from all AHS departments and key outside agencies, was designed to create and sustain a culture of transformation and as an active vehicle for achieving trhe goals of the re-organization. With an emphasis on cross agency policy review and development, the NAT utilizes examples from the field to assess the effectiveness of policy and practice and create operational solutions.
Initiatives Field Services is connected with:
Organizational Culture: Field Services is playing a lead role to ensure the delivery of Beyond the Boxes, a focused effort defining common vision, values and vocabulary for all AHS staff, which embeds the following Four Key Practices into our AHS organizational culture: customer service, holistic service, strengths-based relationships and a results focus.
Interagency Agreement: Field Directors occupy a pivotal role in providing oversight and support to the children's system of care through the expanded 2005 Interagency Agreement between the AHS and the Department of Education, ensuring that youth with disabilities receive integrated services and have a smooth transition to adult life.
Benefits Enrollment: We are working closely with DCF-Economic Services, Corrections, and Vocational Rehabilitation to establish benefits enrollment for offenders leaving facilities to be activated immediately upon release in order to maximize opportunities for successful re-entry and reduce recidivism.
Military, Family and Community Network: Field Services has partnered with the Vermont Military and the National Guard to create a network of support for returning vets and their families to ensure a successful return and transition back to family, community and employment.
Vermont Mentors!: Field Services is overseeing an AHS contract with the Permanent Fund for the Well-Being of Vermont's Children in support of a public-private partnership that is designed to produce 250 new adult mentors for children and youth throughout Vermont.
Youth in Transition: Field Services is working with AHS partners to develop a comprehensive system of care for transition age youth in order to ensure a smooth transition to adult life and self-sufficiency within the community.
Incarcerated Women's Initiative: The number of women in the prison system has climbed steadily in the past decade. We are working closely with Corrections and the community support system to relieve this upward pressure and to turn the curve on the number of women in Corrections and those facing imminent incarceration, and to minimize the overall impact on their children, families and communities. Each Field Director has established a local team and strategies to turn the curve on the number of women entering the criminal justice system, reduce female incarceration rates, and ensure that appropriate community supports are in place to prevent recidivism. Several efforts are now in place or emerging that should have an impact on those trends including: the involvement of three districts in developing case management and treatment options utilizing DETER funds; development of transitional and temporary housing options; and implementation of community based treatment and reentry teams to support women entering the community.
Housing: The needs of individuals and families for affordable, temporary and emergency housing is significant. In 2006 and 2007, over 50% of Field Services direct service dollar allocations went to support the immediate housing needs of families to prevent displacement, re-incarceration, child custody and a negative impact on the overall health and well being of families. Direct service dollars prevented many families from becoming homeless and requiring more intense and costly intervention from AHS. Additionally, Field Services is developing General Assistance (GA) pilot projects to test innovations that mitigate poverty and serve applicants more effectively than currently served with the same amount of General Assistance funds. In 2008, AHS introduced the HousingNow Initiative, a project to prevent the loss of housing and alleviate homelessness by coordinating services and support for tenants and landlords, and by creating community teams to address long term housing solutions.
Emergency Management: The creation of an effective, timely and coordinated response for Vermonters in times of disaster is critical. Field Services is responsible at the district level for State Support Function #6, to coordinate assistance in support of State and local efforts to meet the mass food, water and care needs of victims of either local or statewide disasters.
AHS Field Directors serve as direct representatives of the AHS Secretary's Office within the districts to:
- Achieve better outcomes for Vermonters by transforming the delivery of human services through dramatically changing the structure, leadership and authority of human services districts;
- Achieve key results established by the Agency Secretary, promote high profile issues identified by Commissioners, and provide leadership around outcomes identified by the District Leadership Team, Regional Partnerships and Advisory Councils;
- Hold team members and local providers accountable to address client outcomes and prevention;
- Deliver coordinated services and find creative, flexible and efficient solutions for cross agency cases and operations;
- Manage flexible funds to address unmet needs of Vermonters;
- Ensure that all individuals and families readily access needed services by creating an effective system for navigation of services;
- Ensure that all individuals and families involved with multiple programs have service coordination teams and lead service coordinators;
- Respond responsibly and effectively to inquiries, concerns and issues raised by legislators, stakeholders and other community members regarding the needs of specific individuals and families or the human services system; and
- Ensure the overall effectiveness, identity and unified organizational culture of human services in the region, including AHS district operations and contracted services.
Links to more information....
AHS Field Services Contact Information
AHS Four Key Practices
AHS Field Services Access & Support Continuum
Barre & Morrisville Field Services webpage
Burlington Field Services webpage