The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities believes that our country thrives when everyone can reach their full potential. Because we work at the nexus of families, communities, and systems every day, our strategic action network is a vital partner with policymakers in pursuit of culturally responsive solutions that accelerate progress toward achieving a healthy and equitable society.

This public policy agenda is built on a unifying set of core values and building blocks articulated in the Alliance member- created public policy platform, A Blueprint for Strong Families and Communities.

This agenda is aligned with the Alliance’s theory of action and results-based accountability plans to advance equity; support organizational excellence and sustainability; and improve health and well-being, safety and resilience, educational success, and economic mobility. Community-based human services organizations are critical partners to government in implementing high-quality programs, services, and supports to achieve enduring positive outcomes for children, adults, families, and communities.

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  • (AL) - Accelerate through Leadership. As change agents, the Alliance strategic action network will take a leadership role. 
  • (AP) - Accelerate through Partnership. The Alliance will lean in with active and committed partners. 

Organizational Excellence 

Community-based organizations (CBOs) provide critical supports and help set conditions so that millions of families and communities in the U.S. can flourish. Federal policies must help create an environment that allows these organizations to invest in capacity, achieve meaningful outcomes, attract and retain a strong workforce, and sustain themselves financially. The Alliance supports policies that promote the financial health of these organizations and provide resources for mission-related work.

With this in mind, the Alliance will work to:

  • Monitor and promote local and state contract and procurement reform efforts and advance similar efforts at the federal level through legislation that improves outcomes, reduces unnecessary costs, and ensures full cost coverage and timely payments. (AL)
  • Support tax code enhancements that encourage and incentivize charitable giving including a universal charitable deduction. (AL)
  • Educate, engage, and encourage the Alliance network to participate in outreach efforts around the 2020 census, given the impact of census data on federal funding streams, policy decision making, and organizational and community planning. (AP)
  • Engage in efforts to protect and expand federal appropriations for key funding streams that are critical to the social sector and the communities it serves. (AP)
  • Defend current federal tax law protections (i.e. the Johnson Amendment) that prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations from endorsing, opposing, or contributing to political candidates. (AP)
  • Safeguard charitable immunity and corporate and volunteer liability protections for community-based organizations. (AP)
  • Support efforts to maintain charitable IRA rollover opportunities to give directly to charitable 501(c)(3) organizations with tax benefits. Support efforts to increase transparency related to charitable giving through donor-advised funds. (AP)
  • Sponsor and proliferate voter mobilization and civic engagement tools for our sector to help them
    advance their missions and empower the people and communities they serve. (AP)
  • Strengthen the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to be more robust, accessible, and
    transparent in order to recruit and retain a strong workforce. (AP)

Health & Well-Being

Community-based organizations (CBOs) play a fundamental role in advancing health and well-being. Health care leaders are increasingly aware that the traditional “medical-only” model is too narrow to result in population-level change. Meaningful transformation requires partnership with CBOs. As trusted community entities, CBOs have firsthand expertise addressing individuals’ social needs. Alliance members have the knowledge and experience to partner with health care leaders in the design and implementation of community interventions impacting populations with chronic conditions and strengthening the overall health and well-being of the community.

The Alliance and our members already partner with critical health organizations in our communities to improve health outcomes and health equity. Partners include Federally Qualified Health Centers, community health centers, private health systems, managed care organizations, national health organizations, and others. Such partnerships and interventions are done with full appreciation of the social determinants of health as integral to improving health outcomes and achieving cost savings.

A foundational support that every person and community needs to thrive is access to affordable, preventive, and fully integrated physical and mental health care. The Alliance is committed to advancing health equity and driving early intervention and prevention programs that result in positive population health outcomes. Alongside our members, the Alliance advocates for policies that create parity between physical health and mental/behavioral health coverage and supports efforts to reduce the number of uninsured.

To that end, the Alliance will work to:

  • Encourage the Medicaid system to provide coverage that addresses social determinants of health including food and nutrition access, stable housing, and other key social needs. (AL)
  • Ensure that 1115 waivers through Medicaid include financing for in-home interventions and strongly encourage state Medicaid systems to partner with CBOs to provide needed social services. (AL)
  • Develop and support the community health worker workforce by scaling up training and credentialing, and ensuring the workforce is increasingly part of health care models. (AL)
  • Create a net positive impact on populations served by Medicaid in the face of efforts to redesign Medicaid’s federal-state partnership. (AP)
  • Increase funding for information technology systems and additional infrastructure improvements that help the human services sector more efficiently collect, protect, and share data across the health ecosystem. (AP)
  • Incentivize Medicaid providers to deliver comprehensive preventative health care. (AP)

Safety & Resilience

Community-based organizations (CBOs) play a critical role in keeping children safe at home by providing services and programs that mitigate adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress and prevent child abuse and neglect and other adversity. Every day, the social sector serves millions of children when families need services to address poverty, violence, and trauma.

The federal government can support CBOs in strengthening safety, resilience, and well-being by reinforcing safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments. We support federal policies that are informed by neuroscience and integrate evidence-based or promising prevention and early response strategies to proactively build family well-being.

The Alliance supports policies that promote equity and fairness in all corners of the child protection system including investigations, screenings, removals, and placements. Further, the Alliance opposes discrimination in all forms in the child protection system including changes to reporting systems, foster parent recruitment and licensing, and the placement of children who are removed from home. We will continue to oppose proposals that enable discrimination in the system and remain focused on keeping the safety and well-being of children and families at the center of our work.

To that end, the Alliance will work to:

  • Advance trauma-informed and brain science-aligned principles in policy. (AL)
  • Ensure families have services that keep children safe by reauthorizing and increasing funding for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, keeping a focus on primary prevention. (AL)
  • Amplify and advance the recommendations of the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. (AL)
  • Advance a public health, population-based approach to the child welfare system and advocate for the necessary financial levers to support it. (AL)
  • Enhance protections for vulnerable children at the border. Policies should ensure that if families or unaccompanied children are detained at the border, they are treated with dignity and respect and provided with the same level of safety, protection, services, and care that children under the U.S. child welfare system receive. (AP)
  • Monitor, guide, and support stakeholders, including states, in the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act to ensure it is consistent with the intent of the legislation and aligned with and influenced by the Alliance’s Change in Mind Institute and Within Our Reach Office. (AP)
  • Reauthorize and fund the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program to support evidence-based home visiting services for at-risk families and ensure equitable access to the program. (AP)
  • Support reauthorization and funding for the Violence Against Women Act to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault. (AP)
  • Promote a public health approach to all forms of gun violence including mass shootings, community gun violence, and domestic violence. This approach requires a focus on primary prevention including activities that interrupt the transmission of violence. The Alliance supports changes to gun policies including funding research on gun violence as a public health issue, prohibiting assault weapons, strengthening background checks, limiting gun access for domestic abusers, and creating red flag laws to help prevent tragedies. The Alliance network also supports policies and funding that prevent gun violence, such as violence interruption models, positive youth development programs, and other evidence-based prevention models. (AP)

Educational Success

Community-based organizations (CBOs) support the educational success of young people of all ages by providing early care and education; operating innovative K-12 schools; improving school culture and climate through partnerships, consultation, and service provision; and contributing to post-secondary success through adult education and partnerships with colleges. The Alliance seeks to sustain and expand this continuum of educational supports our network provides for young people from birth to career.

In line with our network’s values, we will prioritize policy opportunities that advance equity for young people who experience significant barriers to educational success. We will promote policy solutions that recognize the importance of whole-child, whole-family, whole-school, and whole-community development. The Alliance supports upstream solutions and will fight for policies and funding mechanisms that promote student well-being (versus “fail first” funding). We will advocate for cross-system partnerships that provide flexible funding streams and incentives for collaboration among key federal agencies (departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, and more). 

The Alliance will work to:

Early Care and Education

  • Protect and increase funding for, and access to, high-quality early care and education opportunities for children ages zero to five years old including Head Start and Early Head Start, the Child Care Development Block Grant, Preschool Development Grants, and Special Education Preschool Grants. (AP)
  • Promote policies that incentivize universal developmental screenings in early childhood education settings. (AP)
  • Advocate for increased funding to support higher pay and more professional development for early childhood educators. (AP)
  • Simplify the early childhood education ecosystem, streamlining local, state, and federal funding and striving toward universal pre-K nationally. (AP)

K-12 Education

  • Advocate for policies that expand the capacity of schools and CBOs to support social and emotional learning. (AL)
  • Protect and increase funding streams that support academic achievement of all students with a primary focus on mental and behavioral health, special education, family engagement, and approach- es that address barriers to learning including 21st-Century Community Learning Centers, Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Grants, IDEA State Grants (special education funding), Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title I Funds, ESSA Title II State Grants, ESSA Title IV Funds (for State- wide Family Engagement Centers), and the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program. (AP)
  • Promote policies that incentivize universal mental health screenings and enhance school-based mental health services in K-12 school settings. (AP)
  • Protect and increase funding for the Career and Technical Education program to build career skills and pathways for students. (AP)
  • Support innovative school operating models that meet student, family, and community needs, are high performing as measured by appropriate accountability metrics, and are funded in a fair and equitable way (e.g. charter schools, alternative schools, community partnership schools). (AP)

Post-Secondary Education

  • Protect and increase funding for adult education and literacy services provided through Adult Education Basic Grants to States. (AP)
  • Strengthen policies that support access to, and affordability of, higher education for students with exceptional financial need, first-generation students, and young people in or aging out of foster care including the Federal Pell Grant Program, the Higher Education Act, and Chafee Education Training Vouchers. (AP)

Economic Mobility

Through an equity lens, community-based organizations (CBOs) deliver programs, community-based solutions, and policy changes that enable social and economic mobility, moving people out of poverty and toward intergenerational cycles of success.

The Alliance advocates for federal policies that create economic opportunity and upward mobility for all, especially communities of color, low-income communities, youth, returning citizens, LGBTQ individuals, women, and differently abled individuals. Adults of all ages seek pathways to family-sustaining careers, which include the right training and education, as well as fair wages and workplace policies. We will support policies that harness the power of CBOs to deliver services that meet basic needs while concurrently providing employment training.

The Alliance will work to:

  • Reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to prepare individuals to obtain high-quality, in-demand careers through job training. WIOA should also incentivize new apprentice- ship and work-based learning programs. (AP)
  • Bolster efforts to increase the minimum wage to a livable and family-sustaining level. (AP)
  • Incentivize lending institutions to offer loans to individuals with low or no credit through the Community Reinvestment Act, opening the door for new entrepreneurs. (AP)
  • Protect programs that help families meet basic needs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Community Service Block Grant program (CSBG), Social Security Insurance (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program. (AP)
  • Strengthen and expand policies that provide paid family leave and affordable child care. (AP)
  • Combat the national affordable housing and homelessness crisis by supporting policies that adequately fund public housing agencies, expand the Section 8 housing voucher program, and implement a Housing First approach. In addition, protect and expand the Promise Zone initiative to build economically vibrant communities, affordable housing systems, and safe neighborhoods. (AP)
  • Bolster public transportation benefits and systems to increase access to potential employers and community services. (AP)
  • Address the “benefits cliff” by supporting policies that redesign public benefits programs to ensure individuals have the support they need during the transition to financial independence. (AP)

To achieve a healthy and equitable society, our strategic action network must remain adaptable to this unpredictable public policy and advocacy environment. Agility, without wavering from our values and commitments, is the key to successfully navigating and
advocating in today’s landscape.

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