ERIC Identifier: ED357906
Publication Date: 1993-03-00
Author: Lutfiyya, M. Nawal
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Rural Education and Small Schools Charleston WV.
Integrated Services: A Summary for Rural Educators. ERIC
IN SOME STATES, attempts to integrate social service delivery are part of
education reform legislation (Kentucky and West Virginia are rural examples).
Interest in integrated service delivery is, moreover, likely to grow in coming
Some educators, however, may not be familiar with the related issues. This
Digest clarifies what integrated social service delivery entails and discusses
major models of service integration, as well as the important role of case
management. The Digest concludes by considering the circumstances and challenges
that affect plans for this type of service delivery system in rural America,
including the needs of rural families.
The delivery of social services in the
United States is undergoing both scrutiny and change. Scrutiny has suggested
that delivery is fragmented and diffuse. Not only are social services more
costly than necessary, people in need confront what appears to be an ominous
system that is complicated and unfriendly. In fact, they confront multiple,
unconnected systems. Service integration is one among many changes advocated by
policymakers and policy researchers.
The term "integrated services" refers to the delivery of education, health,
and social services for both children and families. Larson and colleagues (1992,
p. 7) note that integration refers not to the merger of service systems, but to
better collaboration--"a partnership in which a number of service agencies
develop and work toward a common set of goals."
Proponents of service integration frequently argue that the goal is one-stop
shopping for families who need multiple services. Families would have a single
point of entry into social service delivery systems. From a number of available
services, they could then select those that provided a range of needed benefits.
Neither the concept of integrated services nor public recognition of the need
for coordinating human services is new, however. Soler and Shauffer (1990) point
out that such concerns have been voiced for at least 100 years. Despite this
long history, however, integrated service delivery is still relatively uncommon.
While there are a number of testimonials from isolated projects dedicated to
integrating social services for certain well-defined small populations, little
actual research documents the issues involved in integrating services.
Nonetheless, several basic strategies for achieving integration have been
considered for some time.
TWO MODELS OF SERVICE INTEGRATION
Two major models exist
for integrating social services: "school-linked" or "community-based" models. In
Kentucky, for instance, the education reform legislation mandates a
school-linked integrated service model. In West Virginia, on the other hand,
education reform legislation mandates community-based service integration. Sound
arguments support both models.
School-linked models locate a service center in or near a school, which
serves as the link between the service delivery system and families. Kentucky's
Family Resource or Youth Services Centers are to be located in or near schools
where at least 20 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price
By contrast, community-based models aim to use "residents' own cognitive
maps" (Chaskin & Richman, 1992, p. 114) to define the bounds of a community,
with the established center providing a convenient, single point of entry. In
West Virginia, Family Resource Networks are to be located in communities,
defined--in this case--as comprising at least one entire county. All children
and families, regardless of family incomes, are eligible to receive services at
these Family Resource Networks.
School-linked models rest on the idea that schools are enduring institutions;
they are, in fact, often the dominant institution, particularly in rural
communities. Historical precedence also supports the schools' role in providing
some health and social services (e.g., immunizations and school lunches).
Proponents of school-linked models argue that, of all public institutions,
schools are the most likely to be in touch with children in need of services.
Schools, therefore, provide the most convenient place to make the connections
that collaborative delivery of services require (Larson et al., 1992).
Proponents of community-based service integration models argue that schools
may NOT be the most suitable institution for arranging or providing the full
range of needed services. Chaskin and Richman (1992) caution that schools,
though enduring and pervasive, are by no means neutral institutions. In their
view, services are most needed by children and families disaffected by
For the disenfranchised, schools may be the last place they would
turn for help. A substantial percentage of students...may be
loath to take advantage of services through the aegis of what is
to them...an unfriendly institution or an institution they
associate with failure and trouble. (p. 111)
A community center, separate from--but integrated with--schools, presumably
provides a neutral, nonthreatening location where people in need can receive
services. Governance, moreover, is not tied to the bureaucratic rigidity of any
other currently existing institution, such as the school (Chaskin & Richman,
KEY FEATURES: FAMILIES AND CASE MANAGEMENT
Schorr (1988) argue that "successful [service integration] programs SEE THE
CHILD IN THE FAMILY AND THE FAMILY IN THE CONTEXT OF ITS SURROUNDINGS" (original
emphasis, p. 257). To meet the basic needs of rural children, policymakers and
the general public alike must overcome stereotypes and misconceptions regarding
the family circumstances of needy rural children and families. Most significant
to this discussion are the myths that "the family used to work just fine"
(Coontz, 1992a, p. B1) and that "successful families have always been able to do
without government assistance" (p. B2). Ample historical evidence dispels both
myths (Coontz, 1992b). Families have always needed help; and some families have
always lacked the resources on which access to such help depends.
Whatever the model, application of the principles of case management is
central to the idea of integrated services. Case management is a method of
assessing the needs of clients and their families and helping to coordinate,
monitor, evaluate, and advocate for services to meet those needs (Anderson,
Place, Gallager, & Eckland, 1992). The relationship between case manager and
client is "the glue that holds everything together" (Cohen, 1992, p. 26). Cohen
notes that integration implies that the case is not the client, but rather the
array of services suited to the needs of the client. Integration, in short,
consists of the case manager's capacity to cross boundaries in arranging
services for a client.
In many states, LICENSED CASE MANAGERS provide services that contribute to
the financial viability of the center or network. For instance, people who
qualify for the services of Family Resource Centers or Networks will, in many
cases, also qualify for Medicaid-supported services. When licensed case
managers--often social workers or registered nurses--provide some form of health
care in the package of services for eligible children and families, the center
or network can bill for payment from Medicaid. Establishing and maintaining
financial viability is a major challenge, considering that legislatures in
states that mandate integrated services usually appropriate seed-money
grants--not long-term funding.
The Association of Certified Social Workers argues that case managers,
besides offering a therapeutic relationship with the client, should also be in a
position to spur policy reform. This argument is based on the notion that, as
frontline social service workers, case managers are in a better position than
others (e.g., politicians) to assess (1) the social services needs of families
and children and (2) the best ways to deliver the needed services. Social
service policy, then, would be generated from frontline experience and would be
a move toward eliminating policy based on stereotypes.
THE CHALLENGE IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
The economic, health
care, and educational circumstances of rural communities present distinct
challenges. Much of the policy-making related to families has focused on issues
of survival in central cities (a concern evidenced by former President Bush's
establishment, near the end of his administration, of the Commission on the
Urban Family). Yet, rural children and families share the need for revamped
social service delivery systems and greater access to better services.
Sherman (1992, p. 12) notes that rural children "defy the stereotypes of
needy and at-risk children." Though they resemble suburban children in terms of
race and family structure, indicators of poverty, health, education, and access
to social services show that they are more like inner-city children. Sherman
notes that, even when their parents are employed, low wages keep rural children
Faltering rural economies undermine the ability of rural families to take
care of basic needs. For instance, most rural children come from families with
one or more workers, many of whom, unfortunately, hold only parttime or seasonal
jobs. Moreover, wages in nonmetropolitan service and manufacturing jobs are 25
percent less than in metropolitan areas (Chynoweth & Campbell, 1992, p. 2).
Low-wage jobs (urban or rural), of course, seldom provide health insurance.
Researchers must focus some of their attention on investigating strategies
for solving the unique economic, health care, and education problems of rural
communities. As service integration programs are established in rural
communities (such as the Family Resource Networks in West Virginia), they must
be accompanied by a viable range of necessary services that can, in fact, be
coordinated and integrated. Once solutions are found, policymakers need to
implement them in a manner that focuses on long-term, fundamental change, rather
than on short-term solutions typically supported by "seed-money" grants or
Anderson, K., Place, P., Gallager, J., & Eckland, J. (1992). Status of states' policies that affect families: Case
management. Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Institute for Child and Family Policy.
Chaskin, R., & Richman, H. (1992). Concerns about school-linked services:
Institution-based versus community-based models. The Future of Children:
School-linked Services, 2(1), 107-117.
Chynoweth, J., & Campbell, M. (1992). Towards a rural family policy.
Family Resource Coalition, 11(1), 2-4.
Cohen, D. (1992, November 4). Case managers coaxing families toward change.
Education Week, pp. 1, 26-27, 29.
Coontz, S. (1992a, October 21). Let scholars bring realism to the debates on
family values. The Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. B1-B2.
Coontz, S. (1992b). The way we never were. NY: Basic Books.
Larson, C., Gomby, D., Shiono, P., Lewit, E., & Behrman, R. (1992).
Analysis. The Future of Children: School-linked Services, 2(1), 6-18.
Sherman, A. (1992). Children's defense fund reports on children in rural
America. Family Resource Coalition, 11(1), 12-13.
Schorr, L., & Schorr, D. (1988). Within our reach: Breaking the cycle of
disadvantage. NY: Basic Books.
Soler, M., & Shauffer, C. (1990). Fighting fragmentation: Coordination of
services for children and families [Special issue]. Nebraska Law Review, 69(2),