Role of State Faith Community Liaisons in Charitable Choice Implementation. Findings on the Sites Considered for Case Study Selection


In this section we describe the data for those 19 states (including the District of Columbia) where Charitable Choice implementation appeared to be relatively effective according to the five criteria outlined above (increasing public partnerships with FBCOs, actions by state officials to encourage such partnerships, efforts by state officials to ensure the legality and appropriateness of partnerships, agency staff understanding of FBO rights and responsibilities, and the institutional security of the FCL function). As noted, confidentiality agreements with respondents to the ASPE/MPR survey and Sager interviews prohibit reporting state-specific findings. As such, we discuss the evidence of effectiveness on each of the criteria only in the aggregate.

Increased Partnerships. In seeking evidence that partnerships with FBOs were increasing over time, we focused on two key TANF contracting indicators. These were calculated from the 2004 ASPE/MPR data, combined with 2001 data from a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) survey of TANF contracting; that GAO data had been used as the benchmark in the ASPE/MPR Charitable Choice study (Jacobson, Marsh, and Winston, 2005). The first indicator was the change from 2001 to 2004 in the percent of TANF contracting funds going to FBOs. The second was the change from 2001 to 2004 in the percent of TANF contracts held with FBOs. The first indicator allowed us to control for possible declines (or increases) in contracting broadly and to focus on what proportion of funding was devoted to FBOs. The second indicator allowed us to gauge whether FBOs were obtaining a higher proportion of contracts, even if these contracts were not for large amounts of money (perhaps indicating an effort by states to issue more small contracts that would be more accessible to a wider range of organizations). Among the states considered, about half (nine of the 19) had experienced increased partnerships between 2001-2004, as measured either in dollars or in the proportion of state contracts going to FBOs, or both. The other half either saw no increase or had insufficient data for us to measure any increase. 

Actions to Encourage Partnerships. We used data from the 2004 ASPE/MPR Charitable Choice survey and the Sager dissertation to gauge actions to encourage partnerships: nine ASPE/MPR survey items focused on outreach or policy change in response to the enactment of Charitable Choice, and data items from the Sager dissertation interviews focused on 10 state activities. This yielded a total of 19 items indicating that a state was engaged in activities to encourage FBO partnerships. Examples of outreach activities or policy changes included: informing FBOs of funding opportunities, workshops and seminars for FBOs, and changes in the language of requests for proposals (RFPs) or grant announcements to communicate the rights and responsibilities of FBOs. We again summed the scores to rank the states activity level as high (engaged in 10 or more of the 19 items), moderate (engaged in six to nine), or low (engaged in five or fewer of the items). Of the 19 states with sufficient data and/or activity to analyze, most were fairly active, with eight states rated high, six rated moderate, and four rated low (one had insufficient data).

Efforts Toward Legal and Appropriate Partnerships. To gauge state efforts to ensure that partnerships with FBOs were legal and appropriate, we included eight ASPE/MPR survey items related to the communication of essential Charitable Choice policies to FBOs. These eight included two items related to the rights of FBOs, three items on the rights of clients being served by FBOs, and three items related to restrictions on FBOs using TANF or SAPT funds. We also included four items related to monitoring the protection of FBO and client rights. Summing these 12 items, we again ranked states as having high (six or more), moderate (four to five), or low (three or fewer) levels of effort in this area. Compared to more general outreach to encourage partnerships, effort levels were somewhat lower with respect to the legality and appropriateness of partnerships: on this topic, five states were ranked low, three were ranked moderate, and four were ranked high.

Understanding of FBO Rights and Responsibilities. The ASPE/MPR survey was also the primary source of evidence that stakeholders understood FBO rights and responsibilities under Charitable Choice. It included a set of hypothetical questions that were intended to gauge agency respondents understanding of key elements of Charitable Choice. While those respondents were TANF or SAPT agency officials, and not FCLs or FBOs, we believed their responses to these questions might indicate the relative effectiveness of the FCL in getting the message out on key provisions of Charitable Choice. We focused on seven items within two broad categories: first, FBO characteristics that are generally incompatible with the appropriate implementation of Charitable Choice (four items), and second, FBO characteristics that are generally compatible with it (three items). Summing the number of essentially correct responses, we ranked respondents as having a high (seven correct responses), moderate (five to six correct responses), or low level of understanding (four or fewer correct responses) of Charitable Choice provisions. In general, understanding was moderate or better  five states were ranked high, nine were ranked moderate, and only one was ranked as low.

Institutional Security. Finally, to gauge evidence of the institutional security of an FCL  how securely positioned it seemed to be within state/local government and how well supported by resources  we used data from Dr. Sagers dissertation research, with updates from state websites where feasible. We considered the following factors as evidence of greater or lesser institutional security:

  • The year the position was established
  • Whether it was established by legislation or by executive order
  • Whether it was housed in the governors office, a state agency, or elsewhere
  • Whether the position was full-time or part-time, and the availability and extent of other staff resources
  • The source of the budget (and if it was a salaried position)
  • Whether the FCL reported to the governor, to a mayor, or to a foundation
  • Whether the FBO received a Compassion Capital Fund (CCF) grant (as indicative of site capacity and resources), and
  • Whether the FCL had some discretion in funding decisions.

In general, sites were considered more secure if the data indicated the position had existed a relatively long time, was created by legislation, was full-time and/or had additional staff, reported to the executive or an entity such as a foundation, was salaried and/or had a significant budget, had a CCF grant, and the FCL had some discretion in funding decisions.

We sought to ensure, to the extent possible, that the case-study sites would also reflect different contextual factors. So, in addition to the evidence noted above, we considered the following:

  • Geographic region
  • Evidence of continued activity under difficult circumstances, such as turnover, limited resources, a less supportive political environment, and/or high need
  • Participation in important special initiatives, in particular, disaster relief, and/or
  • The existence of an active local FCL where no state FCL existed.

We also considered states without formal FCLs but where there was nonetheless some significant evidence of effectiveness in Charitable Choice implementation. Given the different strengths and limitations of the various data sources, as well as the need to consider additional contextual factors, the site selection process necessarily involved some degree of subjective judgment by the research team. Finally, the case for or against inclusion of any particular site depended, at least in part, on the other sites that were recommended, given that we sought balance on a range of criteria and characteristics.

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