Role of State Faith Community Liaisons in Charitable Choice Implementation. Characteristics of Current FCLs


The FCLs in the case-study sites came to the position from a range of backgrounds, including business, the FBCI at the federal level, capacity-building work within the FBCO sector, other work within the FCL office, state and local agencies, and the faith community itself (see Table III.6). The New Mexico FCL had a business background, while the Texas FCL had worked in the White House OFBCI, the federal DHHS FBCI center, and state government before becoming FCL. Three FCLs  in the District of Columbia, Florida, and New Jersey  had worked in the FBCO sector, with extensive experience in capacity building and training. Two FCLs were working in state and local government when they took on the position: the District of Columbia FCL moved from a position in District government (after many years with FBCOs) into the FCL role, while the Virginia FCL came to her position with 30 years of experience at the local and state levels within the VDSS. Several FCLs (Alabama, Florida, and New Jersey) had worked in different positions within the FBCI office in their sites before taking on the directors role. Finally, Illinois liaison with the faith community had worked within IDHS, but was also a pastor with his own congregation.

Table III.6.
FCL Characteristics
State Year FCL Took Current Position FCL Background
AL 2006 Director of Citizen Corps Council program within GFBCI (20042005), Acting Director (2006). Previously was in nursing.
DC 1998 Worked for over 25 years in nonprofit and community organizations, and a year in DC government before applying for newly created FCL position.
FLa 2006 Worked with an interfaith FBO; created the community-based virtual warehouse, Women to the Rescue, to organize relief during the 2005 hurricanes. Journalism background.
IL 2005 Downstate coordinator for Partners For Hope (2001-2005), director (2005). Previously worked in IL Department of Human Services and US Air Force. Pastor of Living Word Ministries in Springfield, IL. Masters degree in public administration.
NJ 2003 Program manager within OFBI (1999 to 2003), Interim Director (2003), Executive Director (2004). Previously specialized in capacity building/TA with New Jersey FBCO.
NMa 2005 Development director at FBO. Investment banking experience, business owner. Masters degree in marketing.
TX 2006 Served in Center for FBCI at DHHS, as Associate Director of Special Projects in White House OFBCI,  in intergovernmental affairs at the US Department of Labor. Worked at the state and local levels in Texas. Appointed manager of the Governors Faith-Based and Community Initiative within OneStar (2006), Director of Texas Center for Social Impact (2008). Has MA in public administration.
VA 2001 VDSS liaison to FBCI task force from 1999 to 2001. Served over 30 years in local, regional, and state social services. Worked on welfare reform at the state level VDSS. Has BA in social work and MA in public administration and judicial process.
a Since our site visits in Spring 2008, the FCL that participated in the study has resigned.

The length of time that the FCLs have held the position also varied, from two (Virginia and DC) who have been on the job since the beginning of those sites initiatives in the late 1990s, to two (Florida and New Mexico) who held the position for two to three years. During the period of the study, the latter two FCLs resigned from their positions, both taking other work in the FBCO sector.

The FCLs participating in the study stressed a number of specific attributes that they felt contributed to their positions effectiveness. Foremost was a knowledge of the FBO and CBO communities and respect for the full diversity of faith groups represented in the state or city. Recognizing the need  and taking the steps necessary  to reach out and educate themselves and their staff about the rituals and requirements of different faiths was described as essential. Get out from behind the desk, stressed one FCL, a sentiment echoed by other FCLs and their partners. Another FCL highlighted being able to speak their [FBCOs] language, and translate the language and requirements of government for them. Advice from personal guides who come from within particular faith communities can help the FCL better understand both the faiths and the needs of the community, and can assist in establishing linkages. FCLs and/or their staff should possess a knowledge of the capacity-building and technical assistance needs of small FBCOs and the best practices for meeting them, several respondents said. Critically, several respondents said, FCLs must also possess empathy for small FBCOs missions and circumstances. One FCL also cited the value of basic business skills, enabling a new FCL to establish a start-up organization and develop and execute a strategic plan.

Possession of  or the ability to cultivate  strong relationships within the public bureaucracy was also identified as important, as was an intimate understanding of how government works and the avenues for building partnerships within bureaucracy. Many respondents noted the value of longstanding experience and strong relationships within government. According to several respondents, FCLs should possess or develop a deep understanding of the law, both statutory and constitutional, as it pertains to Charitable Choice, as well as federal and state policy. Similarly, understanding the federal initiative and its history was seen in several sites as important to doing the job. One FCL in particular noted the importance of this knowledge for addressing FBCO, agency, and public questions about Charitable Choice and equal treatment principles, calling it key for moving the program forward and making sure the needed protections are in place.[11]

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