Long Island COVID-19 Human Service Navigation Program
Special Projects Fund
March 15, 2021
COVID-19 is harming the health and economic security of Long Island residents, particularly for those in communities of color.
Faced with increasing unemployment rates and historic levels of food insecurity, many Long Island families need services, but they can be hard to get. The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI) has been leading nonprofit agencies in responding to the health and human service needs of Long Island’s families throughout the pandemic. Since the start of the crisis, HWCLI has been coordinating with a coalition of partner agencies on emergency food, mental health, domestic violence, and legal services. In 2021, NYHealth awarded HWCLI a grant to develop a centralized infrastructure and navigation system to better connect Long Island families to a range of resources during the pandemic.
Under this grant, HWCLI developed the COVID-19 Human Service Navigation Program as a network to connect Long Island families to COVID-19 testing, care, vaccinations, and other services. It compiled and continuously updated a comprehensive resource guide that included health care, behavioral health, housing, emergency food, addiction, and legal services, as well as other economic supports. HWCLI built out its referral software system that allowed for sharing data about intakes and referrals among multiple agencies. This software acted as a centralized directory and navigation system for the partner network. Navigators conducted extensive outreach and education to help families identify needs and connect them with resources, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, home eviction and foreclosure prevention services, health insurance enrollment, and access to health care and legal services. HWCLI also partnered with State and local agencies and health systems on vaccine education and messaging, with navigators connecting clients to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. HWCLI provided training and capacity-building for member agencies to use the software system and participate in the network. Finally, it broadly shared successes and lessons learned from the program as a replicable model for other agencies across the region and State.