Faith Based Initiative /Social Service and Congregational Research Part 1



the study examines social service partnerships between religious congregations and United Way of Delaware social service agencies and governmental units in New Castle County Delaware the broad purpose of this study is to determine if a rethinking is necessary of how communities might use the resources of religious congregations from a ground-up approach where local stewards and service agencies work together to define their needs and then build off existing strengths in the religious community to begin matching their resources to locally defined needs this is counterintuitive to the thinking that has dominated national policies since the Reagan years the major discussion about faith-based social services had been about the federal government giving money to small neighborhood congregations and new nonprofits to solve problems because it had been common thinking that churches and small faith-based community nonprofits are situated closer to the problems in low-income communities such problems like crime drug abuse gang violence aids child abuse and neglect thus as the thinking went they are better equipped to serve them because they are closer to the problem given their champion moral authority well suppose it other ingredients needed to best serve those groups would simply be money and training to be effective organizations in this scheme government would provide special grants to individual congregations and organizations to serve as seed money they would enter into the local social service culture without having to learn the community norms that have glued local partners and local providers together for a hundred and thirty years the current thinking fails on three accounts all social service takes place at the community level most social problems have ripple effects a returning ex-prisoner returns to his or her community often without job skills little or no treatment for health and mental health problems and he or she returns to a family it has to reconfigure itself and their absence while one new faith-based nonprofit or congregation may indeed be situated where the ex-prisoner will reside the multiplicity of his or her problems like finding work getting health treatment paying back child support reporting to the parole officer requires multiple program efforts or a knowledge of the culture of care and supporting services number three the major thinking has been to build up an isolated organization or congregation while ignoring how to best involve it and helping in the web or personal family and service needs in the local culture of services imagine someone having open-heart surgery without a team in the operating room but instead one doctor most of our social service issues are addressed in partnerships with local agencies and organizations because most of the problems are multilateral and like open-heart surgery need a team approach unlike a heart operation when looked at through the lenses of a community of care the community often does not know all of its needs nor all of its resources especially in the religious community over the past 25 years community systems have put together patchwork teams organization by organization but they still lack the kind of 21st century planning approach that's used in a heart surgery we simply have used the 19th century approach to solving 21st century problems we could do better this is the first comprehensive examination in one community how agencies use religious resources and thus it must be viewed as a baby step but it will help the community move toward a fact driven understanding of its current state of affairs so that it can build on the existing strengths and sure up weaknesses this is a two-part study under a subcontract from the United Way of Delaware originally funded by the Jessie ball DuPont fund the part presented here was designed to determine the nature and scope of the partnerships between the 109 United Way of Delaware member and affiliate agencies and focusing on Wilmington and New Castle County a cameo examination of 24 state of Delaware units of public safety net social services Children Youth and Family Services and public health services in New Castle County was also conducted to see if government agencies partner with congregations this is the first comprehensive examination in one community of how agencies use religious resources we wanted to determine what they do what they get from congregations and how do they do it the second part of this was to conduct a detailed examination of a hundred or more congregations in Wilmington done by dr. Ron cannon in order to catalogue the resources of those religious congregations the community would begin to have information on which agencies are partnering with congregations and how and it would also have a good list of resources from a substantial number of community congregations we surveyed all 109 agencies across Delaware 72 of those agencies were in Wilmington 37 were across the rest of the state statewide there were 55 member agencies of the United Way 54 affiliates Wilmington has 72 agencies they have 38 members and 34 affiliates in the rest of the United Way of Delaware there are 17 members 20 affiliates the overall response rate for the total of 109 agency was 69 percent or 76 agencies responded to the survey the services offered by the responding agencies a spread across the lifespan from pregnancy counseling to elderly care the response rate for Wilmington agencies was a stellar 80 percent the Wilmington agencies could actually name the congregation or parish from which they received volunteers money use of facility space and/or goods and services and they were provided a fairly up-to-date listing the two graphs show the percentage differences in the budgets of the United Way of Delaware members and affiliates in Wilmington the red arrow points to the difference in funding member and affiliate agencies received from religious congregations we can see funding differences across all categories with both relying heaviest on government and self support what's very noticeable when we look carefully at this slide is the relationships are not just with one direction 13 agencies said that the congregation's they work with initiated the financial relationship one would assume that agencies are going out and soliciting funds but in fact these agencies told us that the congregation's they work with actually solicited them and gave them money 69% of Wilmington's United Way agencies took the time to name congregations that provided one of four kinds of assistance the top partners with social service agencies in Wilmington are listed on this chart and the range goes from 12 to 6 the list on this shows some of the things respondents told us what groups of volunteers work with them and the kinds of support they were provided this chart illustrates the kinds of things volunteers do they most often participate in direct services like tutoring or mentoring second an administrative like planning events or even grant writing and clear

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