Improving Access to Public Benefits

Helping Eligible Individuals and Families Get the Income Supports They Need

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Institute

April 1, 2010


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) increased the funding and capacity for benefits across the board. These measures are meant to provide for America’s struggling families, but far too many miss out on the help they need, leaving billions of dollars in potential supports unused or unclaimed.

To address these issues and improve access to benefits, government agencies and nonprofit organizations have taken steps to create better tools that streamline the application process, develop outreach initiatives in collaboration with other institutions, and simplifying procedures and policies — showing promising results.

Expanding access to these benefits is helping families achieve greater economic security and creating more economic activity in the communities where they live.

This report assesses the problem and progress to date, as well as provides recommendations to improve the impact these programs can have.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

$65 billion in government services and support remain unclaimed

Improving access to and knowledge of the benefits available presents a complicated challenge for government systems as well as the nonprofit, for-profit and service agencies that work with individuals and families in need.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations