Community Council Health Systems (CCHS)

Financial Literacy Specialist


Project Goal: The goal of the Community Council’s Financial Literacy Program are as follows:

1) to help our program participants improve their understanding of financial concepts and services so they are empowered to make informed choices and take action to improve their financial well-being;

2) to integrate financial literacy assessments/interventions within participants individualized goal planning;

3) to improve the mental health of program participants by reducing economic stressors in their life,  and;

4) to produce a model financial literacy program that can be replicated in other mental health/community support settings.  The implementation of these goals will provide individualized improvements that will subsequent affect positively on the quality of life of program participants within their community life and reduce overall poverty indicators within the community-at-large, including the reduction in criminal activity due to lack of resources.


Agency Information


Agency Mission
The mission of Community Council is to provide comprehensive mental health and educational services for adults and children. All services are designed to be holistic, geographically accessible, culturally sensitive, and coordinated with other related service systems, both formal and informal.

Address  4900 Wyalusing Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19131-5127

Total number of Agency Staff Members  425

Agency Budget  $22,000,000

Job Description

The fellow’s duties and responsibilities:         

The Philly Fellow will be the primary developer and architect of building a financial literacy program than can be incorporated into our behavioral health services.  The Philly fellow will:

  • Develop needs assessment protocol and associated tools and venues to implement an assessment on the financial literacy needs of agency’s program participants and their caregivers with consideration of behavioral health recovery model principles
  • Conduct Rapid Participatory Appraisal process to include key informant interviews (staff and other adjunct community staff, participants, participant caregivers/family members), focus group of participants co-facilitated with agency staff, review of citywide literature relative to participant group, etc.
  • Conduct outreach and engagement of community financial management/entitlement stakeholders (banks, housing agencies, higher education, DPW, entitlement programs, etc.) to determine available resources
  • Identify and/or develop a simple money/resource management screening tools to incorporate into the participant intake and follow-up assessments as part of their individualized goal planning
  • Work collaboratively with staff to incorporate Individualized Money/Resource Management Planning into participant goal planning that could change poor/inadequate financial/money management behaviors
  • Create financial tracking tools for participants to monitor their financial spending habits and results
  • Create a user friendly, low literacy level (4th to 6th grade) recovery focus/financial literacy handbook that can be included in participant engagement packet
  • Produce financial literacy handouts (no more than 2 pages) on everyday financial management decisions (i.e. rental vs. purchase, using own bank account vs. check cashing facility, cooked food vs. fast food purchase, preparation for emergencies, school loan paybacks, school grants)
  • Identify other financial literacy management points of entry to assist program participants who have been in agency for long period
  • Identify other financial literacy funding sources to expand to financial literacy education with additional staff


Skills/qualifications a fellow should have to succeed in the position:    

“The focus of this position is working with and through others, building and maintaining relationships, and working closely and accurately within established mental health guidelines to incorporate/integrate financial literacy with participant’s goals. The following are requested skills/qualifications

  • Effective and excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
  • Ability to stimulate and motivate staff to participate in project
  • Awareness of and responsive to the unique needs and concerns of program participants or at least willingness to learn about them.
  • Ability to work with diverse populations
  • Friendly and genuinely interested in working with staff to effect financial improvements for agency participants
  • Persuasive, teaching style of communication to communicate the program and system.
  • Attentive to details to be handled quickly, correctly, and efficiently
  • Committed to confidentiality at participant and staff levels
  • Self-motivating
  • Ability to work effectively with a minimum of supervision
  • Computer literate and experience with MS Office suite of products
  • Reliable access to transportation
  • Comfortable with community outreach and engagement
  • Ability to conduct research
  • A Bachelor’s degree is required “

Community Need

Specific community need that the Philly Fellow will address:

The primary diagnoses of Community Council program participants are major depression, schizophrenia – paranoid type, bi-polar and anxiety disorders according to our psychiatric assessments. However, the focus of our required services has primarily been on treatment of their mental health symptoms, not the surrounding stressors, like poverty, that exacerbate their behaviors. Behavior health services do not fund/provide financial literacy education as part of their recovery planning for an improved quality of life. This would be an added service to benefit our low-income constituents that would improve their prognosis for recovery and long-term outcomes for an improved daily quality of life. Financial difficulties can have a negative impact on mental health. Like many people in the community, persons with mental health problems may have limited financial literacy, and the way they perceive their financial situation is what impacts on their mental health, rather than their actual situation. Even a program participant who is able to meet his/her financial obligations, may still be experiencing financial difficulties and distress. Financial difficulties also impact on mental health in less obvious ways: isolation and lack of support due to the inability to participate in social activities, worsening of mental health problems due to an inability to access for treatment, and stress caused by being under-resourced. Persons with mental health and financial challenges often don’t see a way out and are prone to self-medication, moving sometimes to self-mutilation or even suicide. According to Mental Health First Aid (, mental health problems can contribute to financial difficulties, and vice versa. When the money runs out before the month anxiety and depression builds. Furthermore, the cycle of financial difficulties and mental health problems can be intensified for people from culturally, linguistically diverse heritage due to the difficulty of navigating unfamiliar financial and health systems. The symptoms of mental health problems may impact on financial difficulties. For example, a program participant may not complete financial tasks because they forget, lack the motivation to pay bills, make poor financial decisions, or feel overwhelmed by financial tasks, such as communicating with creditors, opening mail, etc. Financial difficulties may also be a sign of relapse of the client’s mental health problems, e.g. overspending. There are also some specific sources of financial difficulties faced by people with mental health problems which include the following:

• Debt incurred to support a drug or alcohol problem

• Increased medical expenses

• Gambling problems

• Overspending when in a manic or depressed state

• Job instability associated with episodic mental illness

• Poor money management due to paranoid thoughts, e.g. withdrawing money from the bank to keep it ‘safe’.

More than 95% of Community Councils’ program participants are Medicaid eligible as noted by a summary of their demographic profiles. The Health Insurance Association of America describes Medicaid as a “government insurance program for persons of all ages whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health care”. Medicaid is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with low income in the United States. Harvard University economics professor, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Princeton University psychology and public-policy professor, Eldar Shafir, in their book, Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, identify the scarcity of financial resource as a common chord across so many of society’s problems, and especially our population. They state that money management is a critical life skill and those without it is often forced into a downward cycle of poverty and missed financial opportunity. Even minor setbacks can be devastating to those already in the throes of poverty and/or low-income status. For this effort, we will target the following CCHS program populations:

• Parents/guardians and youth participants in our Children Services that include the services: Children’s Outpatient Services offering psychiatric and psychological evaluation and individual, family, group sessions and medication management; Child Blended Targeted Case Management serving children and adolescents ages 5-18 who have serious mental health illness, and to age 21 for those with MR diagnosis; Preschool Family Intervention (PFI) providing center and home-based services to children two to five years who exhibit behavioral challenges and significant developmental delays, including children on the autism spectrum;

• The Adult Services include: Adult Blended Enhanced Targeted Case Management coordinating, monitoring, and advocating for services/supports directed toward individuals with serious mental illness with or without substance use, to pursue personal goals for community living. It carries a census of 240 individuals served; Adult Outpatient Clinic offering a full complement of outpatient mental health services to adults who are 18 years of age and older and their families; Adult Outpatient Satellite providing behavioral health supports to adults who are 18 years of age and older who have a mental health diagnosis; Mobile Support Services affording persons in recovery the supports needed to pursue, achieve and maintain a permanent independent residence of their choice; and CIRC offering psychiatric rehabilitation services for adults 18 and above to access their personal visions for quality of life, establish roles in their communities, and pursue personal supports networks.


How the new capacity created by this fellow will help strengthen the community and alleviate the problem:   

Numerous studies have shown that substantial proportions of individuals with psychiatric disabilities have annual incomes falling at or below the federal poverty level (Cook, 2006). Other studies have shown that financial literacy/education and asset development programs can enhance the economic security of low-income populations (Sherraden, 2008). What has not been fully demonstrated is the extent to which such development programs, in combination with effective clinical treatment can assist the recovery of individuals with severe mental illness and permit them to decrease or eliminate their reliance on government-funded disability income support programs (Burke-Miller et al., 2010). Direct outcomes of the proposed financial literacy program include the following:

1) decreased participant stress with subsequent improved mental health behaviors;

2) potential reduction in long-term treatment which diminished government-related expenses and support to systems;

3) increased economic engagement of more participants in the community.

Per the August 2012 US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, “financial literacy and education also are essential to help consumers understand how to prevent becoming involved in transactions that are fraudulent or financially destructive. Especially at risk are unbanked and underserved consumers who may be unfamiliar with personal financial management, or the elderly and persons with language barriers, who are often targeted by unscrupulous vendors.” They suggest that several broad categories of financial literacy activities can help consumers participate in positive financial practices that also strengthen their communities:

• Basic financial services and asset building programs provide a working knowledge of financial products, financial planning, and an overview of the U. S. banking system.

• Credit management and repair programs enable individuals to correct and learn from previous financial mistakes.

• Homeownership counseling prepares individuals for what is often the largest single investment in a lifetime and what it takes to maintain a home over the long term.

• Education aimed at recognizing and avoiding fraudulent or abusive lending practices can protect individuals at risk of losing their assets and identify or obtaining inappropriate loan products.  Overall expected benefits are as follows:

1) increased number of CCHS participants who are more financially literate as measured by their new money management behaviors;

2) decreased stressors on participants as measured by their goal attainment;

3) increased family income and purchasing power within the community; and

4) documentation of the project model for replication locally, statewide and nationally.


Level of community involvement in the fellow’s project:

CCHS looks at this new financial literacy component in q holistic way that requires a village to support, sustain and assist our participants in improving their financial well-being.  Outreach to key formal community resources are essential to determine what are the eligibility criteria for their support and the processes to navigate their system to secure necessary financial and/or support resources that diminish financial waste. Key community institutions to be queried include banks, lending agencies, housing programs, check-cashing establishments, etc.


The organization’s experience operating anti-poverty programming of this nature:

Though Community Council does not operate a direct anti-poverty program, by the very nature of its 95% low-income participants we are continually in the throes of addressing the financial issues that cause them additional stress and/or life disorganization.  Community Council has a long history of providing mental health services to Philadelphia residents and is one of the City of Philadelphia’s original 12 Base Service Units. We provide a range of mental health and substance abuse direct services and case management. The organization has a diverse staff that delivers evidenced-based services in a culturally-competent manner. The agency serves over 3500 people on a weekly basis. Community Council’s programs provide strengths-based therapeutic, educational, and holistic mental health services to at-risk individuals and their families while building partnerships for a brighter future.


Fellowship Logistics


Fellow orientation plan:

The Onboarding Process is designed to acquaint new hires with Community Council and provide information about the working conditions, employee benefits, and policies affecting their employment.  The on-line Employee Information Guide describes many of the responsibilities, policies and practices to benefit employees for compliance with agency and employment related laws. It is the intent of Community Council to provide an environment that staff will enjoy and opportunities to grow. No Guide can anticipate every circumstance or question about policy. As needs arise, the agency reserves the right to revise, supplement, modify or rescind any policies or portion of the Guide as it deems appropriate, with or without notice, at its sole and absolute discretion.  Every new hire is also provided with a copy of the Compliance Handbook & Code of Conduct upon their hire. It is important to read and comply with all requirements defined in the Handbook and the Code. As an Agency that is governed by oversight at the city, state and federal levels, it is imperative that we all be aware of, and conducts ourselves per the conditions spelled out in the Compliance Handbook and Code of Conduct. All newly hired, newly promoted or transferred employees are given a 90-day introductory period where both the employee and Community Council can ascertain the appropriateness of the placement. This period can be extended for an additional period of up to ninety (90) days at the discretion of the immediate supervisor and with the approval of the program director and Human Resources Department. A formal, written performance review will be held with new employees at or before the end of the Introductory Period. In addition to the standard Philadelphia Community Behavioral Health mandatory trainings for new hires, the following two essential Internet-based trainings should be completed for clinical staff:

1) Ethics and Values in Mental Health Practice (Behavioral HealthCE)

2) Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MUSC)

These trainings were selected to enhance staff awareness and strengthen baseline training prerequisites.  Additionally, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) requires that all current and new hires meet ACT 31 of 2014 training requirements:  Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse Mandated and Permissive Reporting in Pennsylvania. Program Managers should require these non-elective trainings be completed by the new employee within the first 30 days of employment with a copy course completion included in their personnel file. We will ask our Fellow to complete the on-line Ethic and Values course. With the assistance of the Human Resource Department, new hires also sign for the following: Agency Benefits, Job Description Contract,  Receipt of Employee Guide, Compliance Handbook and Code of Conduct. Community Council provides monthly group orientation sessions for new hires, usually offered the last Friday of each month followed by a welcome luncheon.  The four-hour training session, under the facilitation of the Human Resource Department, provides new hires the following content through subject expert speakers, PowerPoint presentation, general program/policy handouts and open discussions:

• Executive Leadership representative welcome

• Community Council Services/Practices

• Clinical Philosophy and Associated Practices/Protocols

• Compliance Requirements Overview

• Drug Policy

• Payroll

• Agency Benefits

• Workman’s Compensation

• Staff Code of Conduct

• Credentialing

• Working Environment Tools and Regulations

• Key Agency Contacts  Additionally, new hires complete an on-line New Hire Survey within 60 days of their start date.


Name and title of the fellow’s immediate supervisor:  James Paige, Jr.; Chief Operating Officier


Plans for supervision of the fellow:

Community Council Health Systems (CCHS) is committed to providing individualized, comprehensive, person-centered/family-centered, and strengths based clinical services through an interdisciplinary approach that also supports community inclusion, partnerships and collaboration. The COO, which will be the immediate supervisor of the Fellow.  The COO is responsible for assuring that all staff receives appropriate evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, medical screening and medical/psychiatric evaluation whenever indicated, and that all medical/psychiatric care is appropriately documented in the electronic health record (EHR).  Such oversight for the Fellow will include the program direction, administration and supervision of the Financial Literacy program development with an acute focus on participant retention, service satisfaction and trend management.  Other required supervision roles include the following:

• Assistance to Fellow in establishing relationships with staff, consumers as required through research, their family, community networks, and other supporters

• Implementation of appropriate interventions and techniques

• Weekly supervision sessions

• On-going evaluation of service delivery practices and efficacy

• Verification of documentation practices

• Provision of agency and community resources

• Staff training

Since our clinical services platforms are recovery-oriented, it is essential that the Fellow is respectful of the consumer’s needs, preferences, values, and ensure that both consumer involvement and self-direction of services are received. Thus, the Fellow will also collaborate the staff to develop integrate financial literacy within an individualized recovery plan integrating prevention, medical, behavioral health and substance abuse service needs.  Clinical Care oversight is multi-tiered and comprised of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Clinical Manager (CM) and program directors. The Fellow will have access to these latter persons to help integrate the program within the clinical practices.


Will fellow be working at the same address listed above? 

Yes     1246 Taney Street, Philadelphia, PA – Location of early childcare program


Will the fellow have their own…             

Office?  Fellow will have their own         
  Fellow will have their own
 Fellow will have their own


The approximate percentage of time the fellow will work…

Independently  60%          

As a team member in a group setting  20%

As a team leader in a group setting   20%


Will the fellow be expected to travel as part of the position?  Yes

If so, how often and where?   At least one a week to connect with community resource sites and/or visit other offsite program, 1246 Taney Street, Philadelphia, PA.


Will the fellow need the following to carry out the position…

A driver’s license?  No

Their own car?   No