Pamela Winston and Ann E. Person
Mathematica Policy Research (MPR)
Faith community liaisonsВ official contacts at the state or local level between government and faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs)В have been established in at least 36 states and in many localities as of 2008.В Their work typically entails facilitating partnerships with and within the FBCO community, encouraging the organizational capacity of FBCOs, and educating both faith-based organizations and public agencies about the opportunities and requirements of the federal Charitable Choice and equal treatment provisions that sought to level the playing field for religious organizations collaborating with government.В This brief discusses the characteristics of FCL functions in eight case study sites, and highlights model practices these FCLs undertook to further the goals of Charitable Choice and the federal and state faith-based and community initiatives more broadly.
The past decade has seen the development of faith-based and community initiatives at the federal and state levels, initially spurred by the enactment of the Charitable Choice provisions of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), but also encouraged by interest in the work of social services grassroots and nonprofit organizations of many types. Faith community liaisons (FCLs) have played an important role in helping to encourage these initiatives and implement Charitable Choice provisions. These FCLs are individuals (often supported by staff) working within a range of government agencies and nonprofit organizations to support relationships between the public sector and faith-based and community organizations.
This brief summarizes what was learned from an in-depth study of the role of FCLs in eight sites: Alabama, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia. It examines the structure and resources of the FCL function, describes a range of approaches across the states, and highlights promising models. It discusses FCLs practices for (1) encouraging partnerships with and among faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs), (2) facilitating FBCO capacity building, and (3) educating faith-based organizations (FBOs) and public agencies about the opportunities and requirements of Charitable Choice law. Finally, it highlights several additional models that address pressing social issues such as disaster preparedness and prisoner reentry.