National Initiative Looks to Strengthen Social Services

A new initiative aims to examine the financial challenges of the social services sector and find solutions.

Seeking to address the and correct the many financial challenges faced by the social services sector, the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) is working with the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities (Alliance) and other partners to launch a new initiative called “A National Imperative: Building a Stronger Social Sector.”

Through research, surveys, and interviews with key stakeholders and industry observers, the initiative will focus on assessing and improving the financial health of social services. Sponsored by the Kresge Foundation and Ballmer Group Philanthropy, the program also involves analyzing tax returns of nonprofits, along with forming an advisory council to review the findings and guide its efforts. The end goal is to develop a final report that will identify challenges and opportunities for the social services sector.

The initiative took root earlier this spring, when APHSA announced a formal partnership with the Alliance, which spearheaded this initiative. “It just seemed like something that made sense and needed to be done,” said APHSA Communications Manager Jessica Hall. “It just made sense being that it’s the social sector, so the nonprofits themselves tend to be the Alliance’s membership. Nonprofits often seek to help with the public sector, and that’s where our members come into play.” Hall said that APHSA and the Alliance’s long-standing collaboration and shared values set the stage for a coalition that would also include Oliver Wyman and SeaChange Capital Partners.

APHSA supports the initiative by offering leadership and expertise. “We have access to those state and local leaders who should have some really good insight on the situation,” Hall said. She also said APHSA is involved in a variety of administrative functions, such as following up with members on surveys and providing communications support.

With the social services sector facing a number of significant obstacles, from federal funding cuts to hiring difficulties, APHSA President and CEO Tracy Evans, a member of the coalition’s advisory council, has stated a need for greater understanding of the financial wellbeing of social services and its contributions to the public sector. “There is no better time than now to do this work as a united front and get to real solutions with commitment from all sides,” Evans said in a press release.

Whether it’s mental health care or child abuse prevention, “social services are not just for one type of person,” Hall said. In many ways, social services help make society a better place, and now, Hall said, this initiative will “hopefully bring the social sector to a better place.”


Thorne McFarlane

By Thorne McFarlane

Thorne is an assistant editor for Associations Now and a literature buff who loves a great story. Have something interesting to share? Send it his way. MORE

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