HHS Strategic Goals and Objectives - FY 2001 . Goal 2 - Improve the Economic and Social Well-Being of Individuals, Families, and Communities in the United States

09/29/2000

The focus of this goal is to promote and support interventions that help disadvantaged and distressed individuals, families, and communities improve their economic and social well-being. We stress interventions that are related to improving job skills, access to social services, family and community stability, and independent living. We also recognize the importance of health care in achieving many of the objectives under Goal 2 and illustrate this with appropriate strategies in a number of areas such as Head Start. The objectives further prioritize Department efforts by targeting interventions toward low-income families (including those receiving welfare), children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and distressed communities.

While substantial progress has been made in the past several years in helping welfare recipients move to work, increasing child support payments, and providing childcare and early learning services to low and moderate income families, evidence supports a continued focus on helping those who need help. For example, data (1997) indicate that 19 percent of all children still live in poverty. Preschool enrollment for these children is still at only 40 percent. Affordable childcare for low and moderate income working families is still largely inaccessible. In 1998, only 1.5 million of 9.9 million children eligible for childcare assistance received it. Almost one million children were the victims of substantiated or indicated child abuse or neglect in 1997. Twenty percent of children in foster care remain without permanent placement with a family for as long as three years or more.

As the American population ages, evidence points to the need to extend efforts to help the growing number of elderly persons remain as active and healthy as possible and delay or avoid chronic medical problems. An aging society means that the number of persons needing long-term-care services will increase and the availability of these services in the home and community will be a significant challenge if we are to help these citizens maintain their independence and quality of life. The need for long-term support is not limited to the elderly. As survival rates increase among people who are born with or acquire disabilities, and with more opportunities for them to lead better-quality lives in the community (rather than in institutions), there will be greater need to expand the options for home and community-based support structures for people of all ages.