Social Determinants Accelerator Act: Lessons from the Performance Partnership Pilots

Despite widespread dysfunction in our nation’s capital, certain “good government” interests still resonate across the aisle and across branches of government, such as pushing past red tape, emphasizing results, and coordinating across narrow policy silos. These are easy talking points, but how do they translate into policy?

Two examples are the newly proposed Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2019 (SDA Act) and the Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth (P3) authority established in 2014. Both efforts focus on helping the states, tribes, and localities that implement many federal social programs to overcome fragmented requirements and processes across these different programs, which can stand in the way of individuals benefiting and thriving as intended. For example, a homeless youth at risk of dropping out of school may need services related to health, housing, education, workforce, and transportation. If these systems lack a coherent way to work together, then services may not reach the young person, may discourage her from getting help, or may interfere with one another in unintended ways. The SDA Act and P3 offer states, tribes, and localities a mechanism to rethink how complementary programs, which are often operated by different agencies, can fit together to support the individuals and families that they collectively serve.

These efforts are important and compelling—and, as the past five years of P3 implementation demonstrate, take tremendous coordination to work effectively. A bipartisan group of legislators backs the SDA Act in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. These legislators have a chance to build on the experiences and insights gained through P3. This piece will summarize P3, reflect on lessons learned so far from its initial evaluation and from the Forum’s role in implementation, and highlight ways the SDA Act can better support good governance.