True coordination – true mobility management supposes that organizations and individuals representing different perspectives, often funded by different Federal sectors, come together to create transportation solutions.
The contributions of both transportation and health professionals can bring robust resources to coordination work that focus on improving health and social service outcomes for community participants. This is the case in New Hampshire, where NCMM has focused technical assistance activities over the last two years.
The process, including relationship building, has been long – but the reward has been great. The following describes the beginning of the journey and the opportunity for New Hampshire Mobility Managers to build relationships with HHS TANF Counselors.
The Mobility Management subcommittee of the New Hampshire State Coordinating Council for Community Transportation ( SCC ) met with NH Health and Human Service (HHS) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Counselors to review the SCC organization and concepts of mobility management. Looking back at this process, one key ingredient to the success of the work has been that NH mobility managers worked together with HHS officials to develop an agenda for a virtual statewide meeting – the voices of health and transportation guided the work. It was critical for HHS professionals to understand the SCC and its purpose and goals, and conversely, for mobility managers and regional coordination council professionals to understand the needs of TANF colleagues. One participant described, “It was nice to be able to explain what is lacking in transportation for our regions. I hope that this meeting will prompt some changes in the available transportation throughout the state”.
Having state officials from the Departments of Transportation and HHS, along with the NCMM regional liaison, Dr. Judy Shanley, affirmed the value of partnerships across mobility managers and TANF counselors. The dynamic meeting structure, with plenty of opportunity for dialogue and information exchange created the venue for the two professional disciplines to talk about collaboration and cooperative activities.
Participants were realistic in their expectations of the process and it was understood that the meeting and the initial relationship-building were not going to solve all transportation access issues experienced by TANF families. Yet, the meeting proved valuable, as indicated by one participant, “Always helpful to get new bits of information around what’s available/possible”. To facilitate sustained work between mobility managers and TANF Counselors, counselors were educated about the need for their participation in coordination activities at the state and local levels – and connections with mobility managers is the opportunity to sustain these connections. The meeting emphasized that it was important for TANF Counselors to use these coordination opportunities to communicate transportation needs of the consumers they serve, and this information could make a difference in future service development. Regional coordination and mobility management work is the forum for bringing all stakeholders together, including funders, providers, and users of service, to help NH better understand transportation needs, and now, HHS TANF Counselors are important contributors to this work!
As SCC leaders noted, a major outcome of the event, and perhaps the guiding principle, is a Standing Invitation for a Seat at the Coordination Table – Better Together!