Human services organizations have a critical role to play in improving community health, a report from the Nonprofit Finance Fund finds.
The report, Human Services Organizations: Partnering for Better Community Health (12 pages, PDF), argues that collaborations between human services and healthcare organizations focused on the social determinants of health — economic stability, education, social connection, housing, safe neighborhoods, food access — can significantly improve the well-being of communities across the United States.
Part of NFF's Kresge Foundation-funded Healthy Outcomes Initiative, which examined the use of social determinants of health as the building blocks of better health outcomes, the report found that human services organizations need investments in capacity and capital in order for them to share their expertise, innovate their service delivery, and forge stronger community-based partnerships; that while there is a wide spectrum of integration involving the historically siloed sectors of health care and human services, most partnerships aim to harness data on outcomes and cost to demonstrate the power of collaborative approaches; and that leaders in the human services field are looking to institutionalize collaborative models into longer-term contracting practices. The study also argues for the creation of a pipeline of partnership-ready human service organizations, additional efforts focused on fostering a culture of continual knowledge-sharing, and fueling transformation with flexible capital.
"Amid tumultuous times for human services and healthcare providers, the Healthy Outcomes Initiative contributes insights from the field to strengthen the connection among community health stakeholders," said NFF vice president Nima Krodel. "The Kresge Foundation's support allowed us to investigate and share front-line experiences and lessons that can be applied today as we work collectively toward healthier futures."