Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Self-sufficiency means a family can adequately meet their basic needs without repeated assistance from public or private social service organizations. However, there are many barriers preventing Fayette County residents from becoming self-sufficient. Because Lexington Fayette Urban County officials wanted to consider a new way to allocate local government resources, a needs assessment was conducted to assess the barriers to self-sufficiency for residents in Fayette County. As one part of the needs assessment, my research was to design and analyze a survey instrument to assess the perceptions of barriers to self-sufficiency of local social service providers and their priorities for local government funding.

Officials of nonprofit social service organizations in Fayette County were asked their opinions about three major issues.

  • What are the barriers to self-sufficiency for residents of the Fayette County?
  • What are the barriers that LFUCG can reasonably mitigate for residents?
  • What is the priority ranking respondents believe each barrier should receive attention from LFUCG officials in planning for human services over the next five years?

In addition, the analysis focuses on the differences among identification of barriers to self-sufficiency by organizations with differing characteristics.

Literature review provides some background about existing barriers to self-sufficiency and their influence. These barriers include homelessness, health issues, mental health issues, unemployment and some others. A basic framework of needs assessment is presented in the review. The process of needs assessment and couple of examples of needs assessments help build the structure of the survey.

The online survey mainly has four sections, including initial information, barriers to self-sufficiency, barriers LFUCG can affect, and priority ranking of barriers. A nonprofit social service organizations was selected to receive the survey if it is located in Fayette County, has a social services purpose, and the latest reported revenue was over $1,000. After collecting all the survey data, the respondents are classified into their NTEE codes to examine whether there is a difference in identifications of barriers based on organizations’ type of services.

Survey results show that high cost of childcare services received most agreement as a significant reason that residents seek services. Public transportation routes that don't go where people need to travel are considered as the barrier that LFUCG can most reasonably mitigate. Lack of safe, affordable housing is the barrier that respondents thought should receive greatest attention from LFUCG officials in planning over the next five years. What’s more, organizations have similar identification of barriers to self-sufficiency even though these organizations have different NTEE codes.

Based on the survey results, it is recommended that the LFUCG should give higher priority to housing issues in distributing funding for social services. Suggestion for future studies is to explore better approaches to remove housing barriers and maintain the outcomes.