Nothing Convinces Like Stories from Home
The turnaround by Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania is a message to us all. Sen. Casey supported the Defense of Marriage Act but recently changed his mind. Why? Because stories from constituents of the social and economic injustices of denying same-sex couples marriage rights convinced him. Real people from his state who were discriminated against. Taxpayers. Voters.
If you haven’t read our “Enough!” statement on cuts to human services, please do. (Enough as in “Enough already! Human services have already given more than their share!”) Aside from entitlements, which many of us care about deeply, human services are a part of Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) spending. NDD spending is just 17 percent of the federal budget and even small cuts there cause major damage. Many of these programs have been cut repeatedly and with Sequestration and all the cuts that will follow many fewer Americans will have the opportunity to make it up the economic ladder, to be contributing citizens.
The nonprofit human services community—providers, advocates, clients, boards, volunteers, and others—need to send the Enough! message to their elected leaders and need to do it now and repeatedly. And they—we—need to include local stories of real people. Voters. Taxpayers.
People are watching for the effects of sequestration, which appear not to be all that dramatically apparent. That’s because the cuts have been happening all along and continue in dribs and drabs. The pain to people and communities is incremental. Think of the frog in the pot of cold water, then warm water and eventually frog soup.
The word is mobilize. Not marches but letters, phone calls, emails, faxes. There are lots of decent Senators and Congress Members out there. They need to know how cuts to NDD are hurting real people in their communities.
— Irv Katz, CEO, National Human Services Assembly
President Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2014 makes several commitments to key programs but also proposes over $1 trillion in additional spending cuts, which could represent a devastating blow to the nation's most vulnerable communities. In addition to issuing a statement on the budget, NHSA has prepared a report on selected youth programs in the FY14 budget. Among many other national analyses, The Coalition on Human Needs breaks down the president’s budget and outlines the tough battle his initiatives face in the budget process.
Children & Youth
Federal investments in afterschool time may help account for decreases in “self-care” by school age children of single, employed parents, notes the Afterschool Alliance. Between 1997 and 2011, the percentage of such children in self-care fell from 24 percent to 14 percent. Federal funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers grew from $40 million in 1998 to $1.1 billion in 2013, serving more than a million kids.
Many factors, including bullying, can link to a youth’s increased risk of suicide – but families and advocates should resist leaping to a single, simple solution, says a recent research brief on stopbullying.gov. The Community Action Toolkit helps grassroots organizations activate a response to bullying.
Aging in place presents many challenges but also has potential benefits for older adults and their families, their communities, and their governments. Livable Community Indicators for Sustainable Aging in Place, a new report from MetLife Mature Market Institute, the Stanford Center on Longevity, and the University of Michigan School of Social Work, offers tips on indicators and a low-cost way for communities to look at the needs of their aging population.
Private philanthropies and local, state, and federal funders can act now to tackle the challenges and maximize the possibilities of an aging population. Grantmakers in Aging’s Age-Friendly Communities: The Movement to Create Great Places to Grow Up and Grow Old in America. An Introduction for Public and Private Funders outlines ways to step up and embrace longevity.
Poverty & Community
SNAP helped almost 47 million low-income Americans to afford a nutritionally adequate diet in a typical month in 2012, says the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Nearly 72 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities. “After unemployment insurance, SNAP historically has been the most responsive federal program in assisting families and communities during economic downturns,” says CBPP.
What is Information Liberation and why is it provoking eager discourse, skepticism and controversy? Information liberation is one of the six transformative shifts outlined in Disruptive Forces: Driving a Human Services Revolution. This Alliance for Children and Families’ report and its recent magazine cover story continues to generate spirited conversations by human services professionals navigating an environment filled with legal, ethical and regulatory restrictions.
Four new NHSA members bring valued perspectives and a depth of experience in the human service sector. They are:
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers exists to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers and to build a unified center movement.
Kids Included Together provides learning opportunities that support recreation, child development and youth enrichment programs to include children with and without disabilities.
National AfterSchool Association is the leading voice of the afterschool profession dedicated to the development, education and care of children and youth during their out-of-school hours.
Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group is a nonprofit that makes insurance affordable for nonprofit organizations in 31 states and the District of Columbia.
Nearly 100 years ago, a friend invited William Edwin Hall, an attorney building a successful law practice, to observe juveniles from the slums of New York as they conducted an organized Boys’ Club meeting. “Without preaching or frantic flag-waving,” Hall remembered, “the Boys’ Clubs were teaching our democratic way of life.” Within a year Hall was elected president of what is now Boys & Girls Clubs of America, making him a social innovation rock star whose impact endures today. Find out more about change agents and activists in the human services sector in a series of modestly priced e-books produced under NHSA’s Human Spirit Initiative. Look under “Mobilizing the Human Spirit” at Apple iBookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, as well as many other e-book retailers.