Alliance Public Policy 2017: Working Together as a Strategic Action Network

As we enter the new year, we are all keenly aware that this will be a year when our sector will need to stand ready to fully engage in policy debates that could shape human services and impact equity in our nation for years to come.

The imperative for our sector, and our paramount role as leader and advocate, has never been higher. All of us must bring our extensive knowledge, courage, and unwavering commitment to our values to the table and engage in productive dialogue. We must insist that any changes being considered at the local, state, and federal levels are shaped by the lived experiences of the people we serve, as well as our social sector knowledge that comes from decades, and even centuries, of experience.

While I am confident there will be opportunities for us to improve the policy, regulatory, and fiscal landscape, we must insist that any changes being proposed will result in gains, not losses, for children, families, and communities.

In the last part of 2016, your Alliance Policy Team was immersed in gathering intel from Capitol Hill, the new administration’s transition team, industry experts, coalitions and national partners, and funders to inform our analysis of how we should plan in a very uncertain environment. As a result, we begin the year with a focus on those policy issues of importance to our network that we believe will be moving early in 2017:

  • Changes to Medicaid
  • Reauthorization of home visiting
  • Potential threat to the charitable tax deduction as part of tax reform
  • Regulation roll backs that may present both opportunities and challenges for the social sector

In 2017, our policy/advocacy efforts will run on two concurrent tracks. While we have our immediate mobilization and advocacy efforts keyed in on these near-term policy targets and will need to be nimble when issues needing our swift attention arise, we will continue with our plan for an intentional, network-wide dialogue in the first months of the year. This process will clarify our shared values as a strategic action network and inform and prioritize our proactive public policy platform to ensure we are focused and moving on those areas of policy that ultimately drive us toward the long-term outcomes in the Alliance’s theory of change.

Our analysis of the emerging—and still uncertain—policy landscape points to potentially important longer-term opportunities for our network to exert our influence on some of the initial goals being discussed by the new Congress and administration.

For example, when elected leaders talk about jobs as the single solution to a vibrant economy, our sector’s voice is critical to broadening the lens to encompass the social determinants of health in that conversation, as well as striving for equal access and opportunity so that all people can realize their full potential and share in the greatness of our country.

As Congress is eager to direct federal financing toward producing outcomes, elevating our network’s one-the-ground experience is essential in efforts to articulate that a simple legislative solution of requiring the use of evidence-based programs but not aligning the policy and financial aspects of how we do our work will not yield the outcomes being sought. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives is focused on developing alternative financing models in human services that balance flexibility with accountability at the state levels, a departure from the block grants of the past. Our sector’s point of view will be vital to the development of such a financing approach.

Your involvement is critical to addressing the immediacy of the near-term agenda, being ready to act when things move quickly, and to the longer-term advocacy our public policy platform will require.

We urge you to lean in with us and:

Join our policy work groups and/or planning committees. Please complete this form to indicate point of contact for your organization.

Participate in our field engagement meetings to help shape our Public Policy Platform. In-person meetings will be held around the country in the early part of the year. More details coming soon.

Work deeply with us to build congressional champions. This is particularly important when your organization is located in a district or state that the Alliance has targeted senators or representatives for their key roles on our issues. We’ll be in touch to enlist you in this activity.

Schedule site visits with members of your congressional delegation. Members of Congress and their staff need experiences that develop their head and heart connection to the opportunities and challenges their constituents experience. In particular, Speaker Paul Ryan wants all House members to be active learners and has offered to reinforce invitations that you issue. The Alliance can support your efforts to schedule and plan site visits. Come to Washington, D.C., to advocate with us when we call on you. The Alliance has an active government relations strategy and will schedule meetings with appointees, agency staff and elected officials. Your presence, particularly when you are a constituent, is key.

Plan to join us for the American Public Human Services Association National Health and Human Services Summit in partnership with the Alliance. Join us April 30-May 3 in Baltimore, Maryland. Learn more about this summit.

Stay on top of the action by subscribing to our weekly policy update. The Policy Team blogs on policy developments, issue calls to action, and curates relevant content each week. The content is available in a quick-to-scan format.

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