Stronger Families, Adults, and Communities is one of four key outcomes areas APHSA seeks to impact through a transformed human service system. Through aligned and person-centered programs, flexible funding, meaningful accountability, and strategic partnerships, we can provide the opportunities and supports that will enable individuals, families, and communities to be strong and self-supportive.
The necessary policy directions for stronger families, adults, and communities will require that we:
- partner closely with the wide range of stakeholders who have a vital stake in our success, such as employers, workforce investment boards, and the education system, to secure and strengthen the vitality and resources of families and communities
- work to bolster and focus economic development initiatives such as subsidized employment, infrastructure improvements such as public transportation, and multi-agency partnerships that support employment for assistance recipients
- facilitate direct involvement of families in creating and sustaining these opportunities, such as community based networks that support prevention and early intervention
- make and encourage investments that decrease barriers to access and increase connections among systems so that long-term costs can be reduced
- extend these principles to all individuals and families, especially groups such as seniors and those who have been disadvantaged by cultural disparities or disproportional representation in human service programs
Traditional human service programs have long provided a valuable foundation for communities to address the needs of individuals and families. These programs provide services to stabilize individuals and families in crisis and provide a range of services with varying levels of support.The broader task of enabling individuals, families, and communities to be strong and self-supportive is far more critical to their long-term well-being and cannot be accomplished by one agency or compartment of government, or by government alone.
A larger strategy that will develop stronger families and communities must be one in which efforts of a broad array of actors, both public and private, can function with greater collaboration, transparency, and synergy. In the public sphere, health and human service agencies and their counterparts in areas such as labor and education must be free to create or nurture community development strategies at the state level in partnership with the local-level stakeholders that will be responsible for implementation. Non-state or local entities must also be part of this process—employers, economic developers, nonprofit organizations, faith-based service providers, and other community based organizations are critical to the ultimate success of any community intervention strategy.
A network of strong community institutions creates the context in which families and caregivers can successfully nurture children, maintain economic viability, and engage in shaping and building a sustainable local environment. For example, a focused economic development plan is one essential component that enables communities to maintain a context of opportunity and support for families and neighborhoods. Engaged employers, employer supports such as wage subsidies for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients, and active partners from all segments of the community are additional elements that can help complete a social context within which all members can maximize their potential. Strong community development is also needed to help ensure an adequate supply of providers who can support the medical, mental health, child care, nutritional, and transportation needs of families.
Public Policy Should:
- Support the engagement of families as agents in the development of their own support plans, and their ability to identify and leverage their own strengths for better and more sustainable outcomes.
- Allow and support stronger collaboration and greater integration of the work done by human service agencies and other public and private stakeholders who prepare people for employment and help assure they remain connected to the workforce.
- Elevate and broaden the priority of issues pertaining to men, such as fatherhood initiatives, beyond their traditional association with Child Support Enforcement and TANF, and incorporate them into a wider set of strategic initiatives targeting education, employment, and other family supports.
- To further strengthen communities, assure that policy and funding mechanisms include and suitably address local needs for collaboration among all stakeholders in the development of service strategies that best fit each community's unique needs.
- Enable and support the shared governance, flexible financing, and outcome-based accountability required for successful community collaborations and the important roles played within them by private, nonprofit, faith-based, and education entities in economic development and the delivery of human services.
- Encourage greater coordination to ensure that all those in abusive households, both the direct victims of domestic abuse and those in the home with the abuser, get appropriate and timely help.