The field guide covers several approaches to digitizing benefits applications and tracks how states compare on mobile responsiveness, time to completion, Spanish-language support and more. The interactive tool aims to help agency leaders, state advocates, researchers, reporters and others understand what people experience as they try to enroll in food, cash, medical and child care assistance nationwide.
The 2023 field guide builds on Code for America’s 2019 efforts to assess public benefits enrollments. The 2019 assessment found that by and large, public benefits programs were lacking online and mobile-friendly applications, though things have improved on those fronts in the past four years. According to CfA, there have never been more state-run online applications than there are now; 44 states offered some form of combined benefits application online as of the first CfA assessment in 2019.
That said, only 52 percent of benefits programs are mobile responsive. Mobile-friendly services are particularly important for low-income citizens, who are often reliant on smartphones to access the internet. Other challenges that remain revolve around language barriers and limited internet accessibility.