Role of State Faith Community Liaisons in Charitable Choice Implementation. Approach to Preliminary Analysis

12/18/2008

We analyzed several sources of data to identify states where the FCL appeared to have played an important role in the effective implementation of the FBCI and Charitable Choice under a range of circumstances. These included:

  • The 2004 ASPE/MPR survey of state TANF and SAPT agency contracting staff regarding their policies and practices related to Charitable Choice
  • Data from interviews with state FCLs conducted by Dr. Sager as part of her dissertation research
  • Data gathered by Dr. Sager through a systematic Lexis-Nexis search of state legislation related to faith-based initiatives from 1996 through 2007, and
  • The results of interviews, email requests, and other consultation with six experts in the area of state faith-based initiatives (including study subcontractors Stanley Carlson-Thies and Amy Sherman), as well as with Dr. Sager.

Where possible, we verified or supplemented these data with information available on state faith-based initiative websites. We also gathered information on potential city-level FCLs, drawing on U.S. Conference of Mayors publications (Maharaj, 2004; Maharaj and Bullock, 2003), research from the Kennedy School of Government (Goldsmith, 2003), and telephone calls to the mayors offices in several cities. Integrated analyses of these disparate types of information provided an overview of the status of the FCL function across the states, and also gave us a basis for case-study site selection.

In examining these data, we looked for (1) evidence of significant and/or increasing partnerships between contracting agencies and FBOs; (2) evidence that key participants have an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the FBOs that provide government-funded services under Charitable Choice; (3) evidence that key actors within the community are taking actions to encourage FBOs to provide social services and ensuring that they do so legally and appropriately; and (4) evidence that the FCL position, where it exists, is relatively secure in its institutional position and resources.

We compiled the salient data items from each source into 50-state tables organized by the type of data most relevant to each of the four criteria listed above. We then winnowed this broad set of data elements down to those most closely linked to each of the key criteria and those for which the data quality was highest. Condensing the data items to those most closely related to the criteria, we developed an initial list of 19 possible case-study candidates. These were the places where evidence of effectiveness  based on the four criteria described above  was relatively strong. After consulting with our expert informants, we also distilled their recommendations into a summary table. Promises of confidentiality to survey respondents prohibit us from reporting publicly on any state-level findings from the ASPE/MPR survey and Sager interview data, but Table II.1 provides a descriptive overview of the FCL function in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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