Role of State Faith Community Liaisons in Charitable Choice Implementation. Context


Political, Legal, and Socioeconomic Contexts at FCL Sites. As Table III.1 indicates, the political, legal, and socioeconomic contexts among the study sites varied considerably.

While both governors offices and legislatures were solidly Republican controlled in two states (Florida and Texas), four sites were controlled by Democrats at the time of the study (the District of Columbia, Illinois, New Jersey, and New Mexico), and two other sites had divided party control (Alabama and Virginia).

The sites legal environments also varied. Strict constitutional language in one state (Florida) has prohibited the use of state funds for FBOs, and respondents there expressed sensitivity about the FCLs role in building partnerships between FBOs and state agencies using state funds. In New Jersey, the state constitution has been interpreted as requiring nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax status for FBOs contracting with the government, and state law prohibits organizations contracting with the state from hiring on the basis of religion, effectively precluding implementation of these two aspects of federal Charitable Choice policy (Lupu and Tuttle 2002). In the remaining states, constitutional language limited some types of funding of FBOs but did not seem to inhibit the FCLs activities significantly.

The FCLs were generally working in a climate of tightening state budgets and, according to several FCLs, with a growing demand for both their own services and social services more broadly. The main social policy issues that states were dealing with, not surprisingly, differed as well. The Gulf states faced natural disasters and the necessity to plan for and respond to the needs these disasters had created. All sites, however, confronted a range of social concerns such as education, employment, prisoner reentry, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and other problems.

Table III.1.
Site Context
State Party Control Legal Environment Race/Ethnicity Major Issues
AL Republican Governor, Democratic Legislature Constitutional language focused on education and property does not seem to have affected GFBCI. White 69%, Black 26%, Hispanic 3%, Asian 1% Disaster response and preparedness, education, poverty
DC Democratic Mayor and City Council District code does not appear to have affected FCLs work. White 32%, Black 57%, Hispanic 8%, Asian 3% HIV/AIDS, employment, affordable housing
FL Republican Governor and Legislature Strict constitutional language limiting state-FBO funded partnerships. White 61%, Black 16%, Hispanic 20%, Asian 2% Disaster response and preparedness, migrant labor issues and rural poverty, HIV/AIDS
IL Democratic Governor and Legislature Constitutional language does not seem to have affected FCLs work. White 65%, Black 15%, Hispanic 15%, Asian 4% Community economic development, welfare, employment, rural issues
NJ Democratic Governor and Legislature Constitutional language interpreted as requiring 501(c)(3) status for contracting. Religious hiring prohibited. White 63%, Black 15%, Hispanic 16%, Asian 7% Affordable housing, employment, youth, substance abuse
NM Democratic Governor and Legislature Constitutional language applies to schools. 2005-2007 Freedom From Religion lawsuit (dropped). White 43%, Black 3%, Hispanic 44%, Native American 10%, Asian 1% Hunger, poverty, immigrant population, lack of services in rural areas
TX Republican Governor and Legislature Constitutional language does not seem to have affected FBCI. Early lawsuits regarding alternative accreditation and church/state separation. White 48%, Black 12%, Hispanic 36%, Asian 3% Education, youth, foster care, prisoner reentry, poverty
VA Democratic Governor, Divided Legislature Constitutional language, but state attorney general interpreted in manner not significantly limiting FCLs work. White 68%, Black 20%, Hispanic 6%, Asian 5% Prisoner reentry, family functioning, housing
Sources:  Site interviews and materials.
U.S. Census Bureau. State & County QuickFacts, 2006. Available at
Lupu, Ira C., and Robert W. Tuttle. Government Partnerships with Faith-Based Service Providers: The State of the Law 2002. Albany, NY: The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy, December 2002.

The states ranged in their social characteristics as well. Alabama was predominantly white (69 percent) and black (26 percent), with limited ethnic diversity. In contrast, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas all had populations that were more than 20 percent Hispanic. While all sites were predominantly Christian, there was some variation among them, with Baptists constituting the highest percentage in Alabama (37 percent), and Catholics the highest in New Mexico (40 percent). The proportion of Jews was highest in New Jersey (4 percent), and Mormons/LDS were highest in New Mexico (3 percent). Muslims reached no more than 1 percent in any of the study sites (Kusman, Mayer, and Keysar, 2001).

A Broad History of Charitable Choice and the FBCIs Within the Sites. Many of the study sites were early adopters of the FCL function and the Faith-Based and Community Initiative, taking action to move the initiative forward even before President George W. Bush took office in 2001 (see Table III.2). This was the case in the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia. In some states, these efforts were linked to implementation of welfare reform in the 1990s (the FCLs in Virginia and Illinois, in particular, noted this).

Table III.2.
Establishment of FCL Function
State Year Established Legal Authority Formal Missiona
AL 2004 Executive Order (#21) To build the capacity of individuals and organizations to serve and transform the communities in which they live. to increase (1) an ethic of service and volunteerism in the State of Alabama, (2) the capacity of faith-based and community organizations within the state to better compete for funding opportunities and (3) the collaboration among the people and organizations that are trying to meet the greatest needs of our state.
DC 1998 Administrative action To advance DCs strategic priorities and improve the quality of life for residents by (1) establishing partnerships between public and private, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations and (2) pursuing financial support and technical assistance from public and private sources.
FL 1996 (Volunteer Florida Foundation) Executive Order (#04-245); Statute (2006 IV.14.31) To strengthen Florida by meeting community and family needs. through development of initiatives in volunteerism and community service, under the leadership of Governor Charlie Crist and the Governors Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. Compassion Florida rolls out training, technical assistance, mini-grants for grassroots groups.
IL 1996 (Partners For Hope)

2003 (Team Illinois)

Administrative action Partners for Hope:  a non-fiduciary interfaith welfare-to-work initiative partnership between IDHS local offices and faith communities. Team Illinois:  an initiative of Gov. Blagojevich to forge economic development partnerships between state agencies and challenged communities.
NJ 1998 (FBI program)

2002 (OFBI established by Executive Order)

Executive Order (#31) To develop relationships and strengthen partnerships with federal and state agencies, corporations, foundations, institutions of higher learning, and capacity-building training organizations in an effort to create greater access to funding and other resource opportunities for Faith Based and Community Based Organizations.
NM 2005 Administrative action To improve human service delivery to New Mexicans most in need, support and build capacity of faith-based and nonprofit community organizations, [and] connect New Mexican nonprofit organizations to federal funding sources.
TX 1996 (Task Force)

2004 (OneStar Foundation)


Order (RP30)

OneStar leads the Governors Faith-Based and Community Initiative, which was created by Governor Rick Perry in 2004. [to:] 1) Encourage cross-sector collaborations between government, faith-based and community groups and other entities, such as private sector businesses, 2) Ensure that faith-based and community groups are ready to succeed in their partnerships by strengthening their organizational capacity and their work together to achieve common goals, and 3) Encourage research and evaluation to measure the impact of these partnerships in effectively serving Texans in need.
VA 1999 (Task Force)

2002 (FBCI responsibilities codified)

Statute (Section 63.2-703 of the Code of Virginia) The FBCI works across state agencies and with local government to: Serve as the clearing house and gateway for community and faith-based organizations interested in collaboration with government to address community needs; Promote partnerships between public agencies and community and faith-based groups to meet local needs; Provide training and technical assistance to help community-based organizations build their capacity to provide effective services; Expand the state's pool of effective service providers; Coordinate offers of assistance from the faith community at the time of emergencies or natural disasters.
 a The formal missions are largely taken directly from the FCL websites, though in some cases FCLs provided updates or revisions.

The initiative in many of these early-adopting sites has evolved considerably over time. The changes in structure and emphasis have probably been greatest in Texas and Florida, where the current nonprofit foundations evolved from, respectively, an FBCI task force and a disaster relief support structure. While these two foundations are closely linked to their respective governors offices, they exist as separate nonprofit organizations. Both states also changed focus over time. The initial emphasis in Texas and Florida was on barrier identification/reduction and public education, and, in the case of Texas, state agency compliance with Charitable Choice. Over time, the focus broadened to emphasize partnerships within the FBCO and nonprofit sector together with capacity building for the FBCO sector through demonstration grants from the federal Compassion Capital Fund (CCF) and other means.

The other early-adopting sites  Virginia, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Illinois  have also seen changes over time, though they have been less dramatic:

  • In Virginia, the current FCL has held the position continually since the beginning of the initiative (initially as a liaison to a legislative task force established in 1999, and since 2001 as the FCL). The Virginia FBCIs emphasis on broad education and understanding of the new laws and policies has also evolved into a focus on building and maintaining partnerships and increasing FBCO capacity, but the changes have been more modest than in Texas and Florida.
  • In New Jersey, the office started in 1998 as a program of then-Governor Christine Todd Whitman that some saw as an effort to reach out to the states black churches (Roper 2004). By 2002, it had evolved into a formal state office within the New Jersey Department of State and was working to broaden its outreach. Its emphasis on implementing the federal Charitable Choice regulations, however, appears to have been somewhat limited by the interpretation of the states constitution that affects the types of FBOs that can partner with the state.
  • In the District of Columbia, the current structure for outreach to faith communities began under Mayor Anthony Williams, who sought to reform the District governments relationships with the faith community. Despite some early uncertainty surrounding the 2007 transition to Mayor Adrian Fenty, the FCLs position has remained relatively unchanged.
  • Although Illinois has never established a formal state-level FCL role or position, the Department of Human Services established one program, Partners for Hope, in 1996 to build nonfinancial partnerships between local human services offices and faith communities; its emphasis was not explicitly on Charitable Choice regulations, however, given the nonfinancial nature of the partnerships. Since 2003, the informal FCLs focus has moved to Team Illinois, a community-oriented economic development initiative.

In two other states  Alabama and New Mexico  implementation of the FBCI and Charitable Choice began later:

  • The initiative was formally established in Alabama in 2004 with the creation of the Governors Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (GFBCI), and the executive order establishing it clearly authorized the office to implement Charitable Choice with barrier reduction and required state agency collaboration (citing the federal law).
  • In New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardsons Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives was established in 2005. There, efforts have focused on outreach to and capacity building among the entire nonprofit sector.

In several of the case-study sites, there was a particularly strong early emphasis on education about the legal requirements of Charitable Choice and equal treatment, and especially on bringing in faith-based groups. All sites have emphasized developing FBO partnerships and collaborations of various types with government from the start. However, broader outreach to the FBCO sector, and capacity building for FBCOs and nonprofits generally, seems to have grown in emphasis over time in many sites. These shifts mirrored the evolution of the White House OFBCI, discussed in Chapter I.

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