Role of State Faith Community Liaisons in Charitable Choice Implementation. Issue-Specific Activities and Practices


Complementing the broad goals discussed above, FCLs focused on pressing substantive issues of importance to their states. These issue-specific initiatives often provided them with additional opportunities to facilitate partnerships and capacity building and to develop a greater understanding of Charitable Choice in their states. The substance of these initiatives varied in response to the sites geographic, political, economic, and social contexts, as well as available funding sources and other factors. Appendix C identifies the main issue-focused initiatives and the key partners in each site at the time of the study, and several are highlighted here.

In the wake of hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, and Rita, the three Gulf Coast states in the study (Alabama, Florida, and Texas) initiated more coordinated public-FBCO partnerships focused on disaster preparedness and response, in particular the more effective management of volunteers and donations. Respondents almost universally said that the suddenness and scale of the need the hurricanes created, and the uneven ability of the states and FBCOs to respond effectively, drove home the urgency of better harnessing the resources and mobility of the FBCO sector, especially churches and small FBOs and their volunteers.

In Alabama, the integration of the states FBCO and volunteer communities into public emergency preparedness and response activities has been a key focus since the GFBCIs founding. The office manages Alabama Department of Homeland Security (ADHS) grants to Alabama Civilian Corps Councils (CCC), which are part of a locally focused disaster preparation and relief program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The GFBCI also manages grants and training related to community emergency response and long-term recovery, runs its own VISTA disaster response and recovery team, and works with ADHS to develop and manage a range of Be Ready Alabama activities to help citizens prepare for disasters. Finally, when the governor declares an emergency, the GFBCI flips and becomes an operational center for managing volunteers and donations. In this case, the office becomes the Volunteer and Donation Management Coordinator for the state, is the lead agency at the State Emergency Operations Center for management of volunteers and donations, and maintains a call center for this purpose.

The FCLs also focused on issues such as hunger, HIV/AIDS, and prisoner reentry. After a national score card ranked the states people as most vulnerable in the nation to food insecurity, the FCL in New Mexico worked with state agencies and a range of large and small nonprofit organizations to develop a Plan to End Hunger. Rather than adding a new program  which would require new resources  the FCL and others brought together resources already available among state agencies, foundations, and the FBCO community. The plan laid out clear goals for addressing hunger in the state and participating organizations were encouraged to identify the particular niche where they could play the most effective role.

Similarly responding to a local crisis, the District of Columbia undertook a capacity-building initiative for groups providing HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services. With the HIV/AIDS epidemic exploding in the District, local leaders saw the need to involve FBCOs, in particular because some religious groups were perceived to misunderstand the disease. Modeled on the sector-specific Strengthening Partners Initiative, the FCL worked in close partnership with the local Department of Health (DOH) to develop the Effi Barry HIV/AIDS Capacity-Building Initiative. With DOH funding, the FCL administered the program, providing leadership training to annual cohorts of 10 to 15 FBCO executives.

Finally, the FCL in Virginia has been coordinating the Virginia Reentry Policy Academy, a largely unfunded public interagency partnership with FBCOs to identify barriers to successful prisoner reentry in the state and to reduce recidivism through better pre- and post-release planning and service coordination for prisoners leaving incarceration (see Practice Model 11).

Practice Model 11.
Working Together to Support Successful Prisoner Reentry
The Virginia Reentry Policy Academy is a public interagency partnership that identifies barriers to successful prisoner reentry in the state and develops strategies to reduce recidivism. It includes essential partnerships with FBCOs. The state Policy Academy grew out of the FCLs and others participation in a National Governors Association effort to spur state initiatives to reduce recidivism rates by improving pre-and post-release services. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) also identified reentry as a priority and issued an executive order directing state agencies to work together in the Policy Academy to develop more effective programs. By spring 2008, seven Virginia localities had voluntarily established reentry councils, a key component of the model, and are now implementing the approach, with a formal evaluation. The work of the councils entails regular coordination between state and local social service and criminal justice agencies and local FBCOs, including churches, for improved services for people leaving incarceration. The FCL works closely with each of the councils to maintain consistency with the model and to share information and facilitate linkages within and across councils. Mentoring has been an important part of the model, and FBOs and churches are seen as particularly well-suited to provide mentors. The initiative receives no dedicated funding, however, which has proven challenging to sustaining the effort.

View full report


"report.pdf" (pdf, 837.11Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®