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April 2016

SAMHSA Expands Wellness Initiative with the Program to Achieve Wellness

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) Office of Consumer Affairs has announced its newest wellness effort, the Program to Achieve Wellness. Operated by Policy Research Associates, Inc. in Delmar, New York, the Program to Achieve Wellness (PAW) facilitates and promotes the implementation of wellness best- and promising-practices for people with mental and/or substance use disorders. Putting wellness into practice and highlighting the science behind effective wellness techniques, the PAW strives to promote recovery and holistic well-being for people across the country.

The recovery-promotion of the PAW is based on the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, developed by Peggy Swarbrick.
Eight Dimensions of Wellness
You can learn more about the Eight Dimensions of Wellness at SAMHSA's website.

The PAW can provide assistance to states, tribes, community-based organizations, and national groups through the dissemination of evidence-based and practice-tested policies, programs, and tools to help the design and implementation of wellness initiatives, including efforts that impact the lives of individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. To subscribe to the PAW eNewsletter or to submit a request for technical assistance, e-mail or call 1-800-850-2523.

For more information, check out the Office of Consumer Affairs announcement.

New SAMHSA Publication: Screening and Assessment of Co-Occurring Disorders in the Justice System

SAMHSA has recently released a new publication, "Screening and Assessment of Co-Occurring Disorders in the Justice System," that examines a wide range of evidence-based practices for screening and assessment of adults in the justice system who have co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. SAMHSA's GAINS Center, operated by Policy Research Associates, Inc., contributed to the development of the publication.
Screening and Assessment Monograph
The publication is intended as a guide for those interested in developing and operating effective programs for justice-involved individuals who have co-occurring disorders. Key systemic and clinical challenges are discussed, as well as state-of-the art approaches for conducting screening and assessment. It reviews a range of selected instruments for screening, assessment, and diagnosis of co-occurring disorders in justice settings and provides a critical analysis of advantages, concerns, and practical implementation issues (e.g., cost, availability, training needs) for each instrument.

Sharing Our Successes


Minnesota has announced a statewide implementation of the SOAR model to serve Veterans who are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness:

"The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, and the Social Security Administration have announced a new partnership to provide Minnesota's homeless and at-risk Veterans with expanded access to Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits... Homeless and at-risk Veterans in Minnesota will be provided with a personal SOAR advocate to guide them through the federal application process and help alleviate factors, which typically lengthen the time needed to determine a disability claim." Read the full press release.

Congratulations, Minnesota! What an incredible achievement!


Alexis Loving, Program Manager at SEARCH Homeless Services in Houston, Texas wrote to share how their team received funding for two full-time dedicated SOAR specialists!

"Our program started in 2008, when we applied for funding with a private foundation that had a strong interest in health. Our agency case managers were becoming overwhelmed with the increasing need to assist clients in applying for benefits. These cases were time intensive both for applying and waiting. We weren't seeing much success, and our clients were exiting our programs before decisions were made. This was placing stress on the bigger system. We identified a foundation that had a broad interest in health, and we pitched our new program plans with a heavy emphasis on the relationship between health, homelessness, and benefits. Our initial funding was for one full-time case manager and the supportive services needed to support their work. The relationship continued to grow, as we documented and demonstrated our success in working with clients. Within 3 years, the funding doubled to support two full-time staff and expansion of our service impact."

Congratulations to Alexis and the SEARCH team! What an achievement! 

Do you have a success story you would like to share with the SOAR community? E-mail it to!

Federal Updates

The Red Book--A Guide to Work Incentives

The Social Security Administration has released the 2016 Red Book. The Red Book serves as a general reference source about the employment-related provisions of Social Security Disability Insurance and the Supplemental Security Income Programs for educators, advocates, rehabilitation professionals, and counselors who serve people with disabilities.

Social Security Advisory Board Publication--Representative Payees: A Call to Action

The Social Security Advisory Board ("the Board") has announced the publication of Representative Payees: A Call to Action. In this issue brief, the Board calls on Congress, the Social Security Administration (SSA), and interested stakeholders to reexamine the representative payee ("payee") program. The brief asserts that SSA's procedures for appointing, selecting, training, and monitoring payees should be reviewed, and a plan should be developed for identifying beneficiaries with declining financial capability.

Job Postings


Columbus House is seeking a full-time SOAR Benefits Specialist based in New Haven, Connecticut. The successful candidate will coordinate and complete the SOAR application submission process through a comprehensive review of each application for accuracy and completeness, among other responsibilities.


Central City Concern is seeking a Benefits and Entitlement Specialist to assist clients with the acquisition of Social Security benefits, based in Portland, Oregon. The successful candidate will meet with clients, obtain and review medical records and lay evidence, and file Social Security claims using the Social Security Administration's online application system.


St. Joseph Mercy Oakland is seeking a SOAR Coordinator based in Pontiac, Michigan. The successful candidate will conduct initial outreach in the hospital service area to the client in the community, provide ongoing outreach services, assist with completion of the application process, and provide referrals for and linkage to needed services for each person served.

Washington, D.C.

Pathways to Housing DC is hiring a full-time Outreach Benefits Specialist based in Washington, D.C. The successful candidate will provide direct outreach services in a team environment to people experiencing homelessness and represent Pathways to community stakeholders.

Learn more about these postings on the SOARWorks website. Do you have a job posting you would like to share with the SOAR community? E-mail it to!

Funding Corner

APHA's Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge

The American Public Health Association, the Aetna Foundation, and the National Association of Counties, in partnership with CEOs for Cities, have announced the start of a multiyear program to encourage small to mid-sized cities, counties, and federally recognized tribes to convene multisector partnerships in support of positive health change. More than $1.5 million in prizes will be awarded to participants that demonstrate measurable change in the next few years. Proposals to participate in the Challenge are due May 31, 2016.

Bank of America Charitable Foundation Funding Opportunities

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is a great potential funding source for SOAR programs across the country, as its list of current funding priorities includes Services for People Experiencing Homelessness and Benefits Access and Referrals. The website describes the foundation's efforts in Benefits Access saying, "...transitioning financially distressed, low-to-moderate income individuals and families towards financial stability through bundled services in two core areas--access to benefits and support resources."

Walmart Foundation--State Giving Program

The Walmart Foundation's State Giving Program works to "create opportunities so people can live better," providing grants to 501(c)(3) organizations ranging from $25,000 to $200,000. The State Giving Program invests in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The majority of the funding goes to support the human service industry, often supporting programs that provide services and supports so that people are able to access and retain stable housing.

Recent Stories from the SOAR Voices Blog

Integrating SOAR and Employment Supports: Getting Started

In the SOAR model, our goal is more than getting an SSA disability benefits check. Much more! We know that accessing SSA disability benefits is one of the first steps towards recovery, not the end goal. SSI and SSDI can open the door for housing, supportive services, integration into the community, and employment.

SOAR Expert Panel

I was recently overwhelmed by the experience and collective brainpower that comes together each quarter to inform, advise, and guide the national SOAR initiative. We just kicked off year two of the SOAR Expert Panel on January 13.

Accessing Government Funding for Statewide SOAR Activities

There are many funding strategies and opportunities available to states that are working on implementing SOAR. This article will focus on a few of the different options available to fund and expand SOAR activities in your state. 

Upcoming Events

2016 Leadership Academy Dates

  • May 3-5: West Orange, New Jersey
  • August 30-September 1: Charleston, South Carolina
See your state liaison for more information!

SOAR Webinar: Housing Access and Stability with SOAR

April 7, 2016; 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
For individuals with disabilities who are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, lack of stable income can mean the difference between housing and living on the streets. This webinar will introduce our latest issue brief "Housing Access and Stability with SOAR." You will hear from three providers who have successfully integrated SOAR and Housing First. You will learn how these programs obtained funding, engaged housing providers and created an effective and lasting SOAR initiative! Learn more about the webinar and register today!
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In This Issue

Integrating SOAR and Employment Supports: Getting Started

SOAR Expert Panel

Accessing Government Funding for Statewide SOAR Activities

2016 Leadership Academy Dates

SOAR Webinar: Housing Access and Stability with SOAR
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