Salt Lake County Selects Two Nonprofit Organizations for New Pay for Success Projects

Mayor Ben McAdams says two nonprofit organizations—Parents as Teachers and First Step House—have been chosen as the lead agencies on social service programming for two new Pay for Success projects in Salt Lake County.  

They were chosen through the county’s competitive bidding process in response to county requests for social services to help improve maternal and child health and to help reduce recidivism at the county jail.

McAdams says these new projects are the latest initiatives, following the county’s 2013-2014 Pay for Success pilot program that helped expand voluntary access to high-quality preschool for 600 low-income children in the county.

Pay for Success contracting is a new form of government social service procurement where services are paid for only if agreed upon outcomes are achieved, rather than a traditional cost-reimbursement contract.

“We are committed to program service delivery that achieves a measurable improvement for the people we’re helping, while at the same time being respectful of the public’s tax dollars,” said McAdams. “Our nonprofit partners have agreed to share data and follow evidence so that we’ll know if the program is working and if specific, beneficial outcomes are achieved.”

Parents as Teachers was selected as the lead agency for Salt Lake County’s Maternal and Child Health Pay for Success project. The requirements include providing services to both mothers and children and providing educational and employment services to mothers. McAdams said the county has identified approximately 23,000 low-income families with one or more children under the age of five who could benefit. The concept for Parents as Teachers was developed in Missouri in 1981, when educators there noted that helping parents embrace their important role as their child’s first and best teacher made a difference in the child’s development of learning skills. McAdams notes that the Maternal and Child Health Pay for Success project will initially serve as a pilot for a segment of those identified.

First Step House was selected as the lead agency for Salt Lake County’s Criminal Justice Recidivism Pay for Success Project. The requirements include implementing an intensive, evidence-based service delivery model that provides services and intensive case management to offenders’ needs as they re-enter the community. McAdams said in 2011 there were 7,565 offenders released from the county jail and the overall three-year re-arrest rate was 62 percent. He said offenders often leave jail with limited work history, low skill levels and health needs ranging from mental health issues to substance abuse. First Step House operates under the concept that unmet or inadequately addressed health conditions, such as substance use disorders, significantly contribute to criminal justice system involvement. First Step House will employ an integrated service model with several core components, including health care, career support and transitional housing, all of which are important to an offender’s long-term stability. As with the Maternal and Child Health project, McAdams says this pilot will serve a segment of those identified.

Salt Lake County is a national leader in this innovative approach to program design and service delivery. McAdams said these next two Pay for Success projects will be supported by the county’s collaboration with its partners–Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc., the University of Utah Policy Innovation Lab and the Community Foundation of Utah. He said fundraising with private businesses and philanthropists is underway to obtain the necessary upfront funding to launch the programs quickly and sustainably, and to initially accommodate at least 400 participants. As with the preschool project, McAdams noted that the funders will only be repaid if data shows that the programs produced the desired outcomes, ensuring that no taxpayer money is at risk.

The mayor said next steps include negotiating contracts with Parents as Teachers and First Step House and finalizing details such as ramping up service delivery in the county and expected outcomes. More information about Pay for Success can be found on Mayor McAdams’ website.