Solutions for Government in the Time of Covid

The COVID-19 pandemic and concurrent economic recession have created the perfect storm for state and local governments.  Across the country, we are hearing from government leaders that they are struggling to do more with less. More residents are seeking public benefits and services than ever before and people of color are again disproportionately affected by the negative health and economic impacts of the pandemic. As they watch resources dwindle, government leaders are being asked to make stark trade-offs with immense consequences regarding how much service they provide, how they provide it, and whom they will serve. 

Third Sector is enabling local and state governments to make informed resourcing and implementation decisions in this time of unprecedented challenge. Leveraging multiple tools, we work alongside public agency teams to help them think holistically and creatively, to keep the focus on outcomes, and to enable them make tough choices with greater knowledge and confidence. Keep reading to learn more about how Third Sector is supporting governments as they respond to current crises with an eye towards creating more resilient and equitable public systems.

Government Challenges

Third Sector Solutions and Experience

Meet increased need for services and support with less funding and staff

With lower tax revenues, governments are facing budget cuts, furlough days, and reductions in staffing. Many are applying for federal grants programs, but when those dollars fall short, they are forced to make challenging decisions about which programs or services to fund and at what levels.

Third Sector helps state and local governments mitigate resource constraints in innovative ways, by helping to identify and apply for new funding and using existing funds differently to support those most in need. Third Sector:

“We know the next round of budget cuts is on the horizon. We will have to make tough decisions about what we cut. We are thinking about identifying other funding sources and integrating funding differently across departments, especially in workforce.” 

- Chief of State-level Social Services Agency

Access and analyze timely data to clarify or illuminate emerging needs, especially for the underserved and disproportionately affected populations

Governments are calling for additional, better, and more timely data and feedback to clarify the overall changes in provider and participant needs, illuminate the distinct needs of different populations, prioritize competing requests, and measure progress toward results.

Third Sector serves as a capacity infusion for governments to disaggregate and analyze data and to listen to community voice in order to better understand disproportionality and the overall changes in need. Third Sector:

“We are re-examining whether previously-planned performance benchmarks and incentive payment amounts remain appropriate given reduced budget availability and increased challenges. Our higher-acuity population is facing intensified difficulty in achieving life outcomes, including reduced hospitalization and increased housing stability, during these stressful and tumultuous times. This is an important step in understanding how service expectations need to change.”

-  County-level Department of Mental Health Leader

Improve access to services and supports for those who need them most

Even if governments were able to fund increases and improvements in benefits and services, many expressed that they would still need to advance outreach and accessibility (in its many forms) in order to meet the need.

Third Sector supports agencies’ work to improve access to benefits and services. Third Sector:

  • Uses data to map and compare available services and providers with community needs
  • Analyzes data in context to segment potential users by needs and resources
  • Maps referral pathways to identify ways to reach underserved populations 
  • Drafts contract and procurement language to incentivize community-based partnerships with smaller, local organizations to access hard-to-reach populations

“We have begun to wonder who is not even in our data because they are not accessing services. If we are improving outcomes for those that we serve, are we meeting the mark? Are we missing the most vulnerable who are not served? We do not know if disparities in access exist.” 

Deputy Director of County-level Health and Human Services Agency

Sustain fragile provider ecosystems 

Providers who depend on fee-for-service have seen revenues drop to near zero, and others are locked into contracts that pay out based on what are now seemingly unattainable outputs and outcomes. Governments are expressing that service providers are their most critical partners in meeting communities' increased and evolving needs and ensuring their resiliency is critical to recovery.

Third Sector supports governments to listen and respond to their partner providers’ needs. Third Sector:

  • Designs and conducts provider focus groups to seek feedback and develop action plans
  • Models funding strategies to provide more equitable and sustainable funding for providers
  • Facilitates the design of contract amendments that shift funding structures to support providers’ needs, such as cash flow and flexibility to adapt evidence-informed services

Early childhood providers are collapsing. We are focused on deploying the CARES Act funding quickly, but not in a way that perpetuates inequity. We have been thinking about new ways to distribute funding and how the system can funnel funds to providers in areas that need it most. Struggling families should not be on their own to pay for early childhood support in their time of need.” 

Director of State-level Early Childhood Agency

Interested in working with us to develop solutions for your community? Contact