HHS Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2007–2012 (Strategic Plan). Chapter 4: Strategic Goal 3: Human Services

09/19/2007

Promote the economic and social well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

Text Box: STRATEGIC GOAL 3:  HUMAN SERVICESStrategic Objective 3.1:  Promote the economic independence and social well-being of individuals and families across the lifespan.Strategic Objective 3.2:Protect the safety and foster the well-being of children and youth.Strategic Objective 3.3:Encourage the development of strong, healthy, and supportive communities.Strategic Objective 3.4:Address the needs, strengths, and abilities of vulnerable populations.	  Welfare reform stands as a flagship achievement in social policy reform in the mid-1990s. Through welfare reform, many Americans were helped in breaking the cycle of dependency and encouraged to pursue self-sufficiency. Since the reforms were passed in 1996, the employment rates of current and former welfare recipients have risen and caseloads have declined dramatically. Earnings for current welfare recipients have increased, as have earnings for female-headed households in general. In addition, child poverty rates have declined substantially since the start of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. States are using their flexibility to focus a growing portion of welfare dollars on helping individuals retain jobs and advance in their employment.

Despite these achievements, self-sufficiency remains elusive for many. Only a third of adults in the TANF caseload are fully meeting work requirements. The Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005 (Public Law 109-171), which includes language reauthorizing TANF through 2011, challenges and encourages States to engage the remaining adult TANF recipients in work-related activities to move them up the economic ladder.

Addressing the needs of vulnerable children continues to be a priority of HHS. The most recent annual HHS Child Maltreatment Report (covering 2005) indicated that each year an estimated 899,000 children in the United States are victims of abuse or neglect. At the end of FY 2005, there were 513,000 children in foster care; 114,000 of these children were waiting to be adopted. Nearly

2 million children have a parent in a Federal or State correctional facility, a number that more than doubled over the 1990s.

Since 1996, the percentage of children born out of wedlock to teens has dropped but still remains unacceptably high. In addition, more adults are choosing to have children outside the protective bonds of marriage. Research suggests that, all other things being equal, children who grow up in healthy married, two-parent families do better on a host of outcomes; for instance, they are less likely to engage in criminal activity or abuse drugs and alcohol than those who do not. HHS’s multicomponent Healthy Marriage Initiative works to help couples who have chosen marriage to gain access to services where they can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain healthy marriages. Making marriage education accessible and appropriate for families is a major component.

Children are not alone in their need for support. As the American population ages, enhanced efforts are needed to help the growing number of older persons remain active and healthy. An aging society means that the number of persons requiring long-term care services will increase. The availability of these services in the home and other community-based settings will be increasingly important if people are to maintain their independence and quality of life.

People with disabilities, refugees and other migrants, and other vulnerable populations also need assistance and protection to achieve and sustain economic independence and self-sufficiency, as well as social well-being.

Strategic Goal 3, Human Services, seeks to protect life, family, and human dignity by promoting the economic and social well-being of individuals, families, and communities; enhancing the safety and well-being of children, youth, and other vulnerable populations; and strengthening communities. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Administration on Aging (AoA), Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (CFBCI), Office on Disability (OD), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are among the operating and staff divisions primarily responsible for achieving this strategic goal. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and Office for Civil Rights (OCR) play important roles.

There are four broad objectives under Human Services:

  • Promote the economic independence and social well-being of individuals and families across the lifespan;
  • Protect the safety and foster the well-being of children and youth;
  • Encourage the development of strong, healthy, and supportive communities; and
  • Address the needs, strengths, and abilities of vulnerable populations.

Below is a description of each strategic objective, followed by a description of the key programs, services, and initiatives the Department is undertaking to accomplish those objectives. Key partners and collaborative efforts are included under each relevant objective. The performance indicators selected for this strategic goal are also presented with baselines and targets. These measures are organized by objective. Finally, this chapter discusses the major external factors that will influence HHS’s ability to achieve these objectives, and how the Department is working to address those factors.

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