Key Takeaway

Beyond the technology, counselors needed to build virtually a counselor-client relationship – often the foundation of a successful session. Remote counseling required additional client management skills.

Local governments across the country are working to help their residents weather the health and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cities and counties, that means deploying their Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs), which provide professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a public service. Local leaders were able to offer FEC financial counseling as a critical component of their emergency response infrastructure; the fact that this service already existed, and was embedded into the fabric of municipal anti-poverty efforts, meant that it could quickly pivot to meet new COVID-19 needs, including through offering remote financial counseling.

This brief describes how FEC partners identified the right technology; developed skills to deliver counseling remotely; messaged the availability of FEC services as part of their localities’ COVID-19 response; and shared lessons learned with their FEC counterparts around the country.

Additional Takeaways

Setting up the platform to deliver remote services was a critical first step; security, ease of use, and ability to support key counseling functions like screen sharing were key considerations.

FEC partners leveraged local communications channels to reach vulnerable populations and ensure that messages about FEC services were central to emergency response communications and service offerings.

Frequent, regularly scheduled national FEC learning community meetings facilitated opportunities to quickly uncover challenges and issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify ways to deliver support and provide updates.

Related Items