#Ready4OE2: Building and Sustaining a Successful Certified Application Counselor Program: An Organizer’s Perspective

By Marshall High

As we count down to the start of the second open enrollment period (OE2) on November 15, Enroll America’s #Ready4OE2 blog series will feature a new entry every weekday in October sharing lessons learned from OE1 and strategies for OE2. For more tips and tools, check out the #Ready4OE2 webinar series!

Strategy for OE2: Recruiting volunteers to serve as Certified Application Counselors

Who can use this strategy: CAC organizations and their partners

Things to consider: Getting close to the actual enrollment process is a strong motivator for volunteers and keeps satisfaction rates high

As part of our commitment to increasing the availability of in-person assistance, we’ve been asking community organizations — such as churches, service sororities and fraternities, and community colleges — to help identify and/or recruit as many volunteers as they can to become Certified Application Counselors (CACs). The idea is for these CACs to work with the organization doing the recruiting or to connect the recruits with CAC organizations in the community.

But how do these organizations actually go about recruiting CACs?  

We found in the first open enrollment period (OE1) that connection with the actual enrollment process is what motivates volunteers to take action and to continue volunteering. In outreach, we work with volunteers to engage the community, find uninsured consumers, direct them to enrollment assistance, and follow up with them until they have enrolled in coverage. And while none of these steps include the enrollment process itself, they do all connect with the enrollment process.

Enter CACs.

There are a number of ways volunteers can connect with the enrollment process. Serving as a CAC is one of the roles that allow a volunteer to directly assist consumers in the application and enrollment process. This makes it one of the most rewarding and compelling ways to engage a volunteer. Make no mistake, the barriers are high: substantial upfront training, continued “on-the-job” training, access to technology, and potential state licensing and fees. But these barriers can be spun into virtues by explaining to volunteers that this is one of the most critical ways to help families in need.

The CAC role is a powerful vehicle to engage and empower community-minded volunteers in a deep and meaningful way. It also creates opportunities to leverage networks and organizational connections to maximize the combined power of the community toward a shared common goal.

Action steps:

  • Work with partners to identify and recruit volunteers as CACs.

If you or your organization is interested in learning more about becoming a CAC or would like to hear about partnership opportunities, visit our CAC Organization Toolkit or email CACinfo@EnrollAmerica.org.

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