Increased Need and Decreased Budgets – Not the Recipe for Efficiency

A brief from the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute highlights fallout from the trend of states slashing human service budgets at a time when programs are experiencing an increase in participation.  Data from the University of Baltimore indicate the workload grew by 45 percent at some state social service programs between 2002 and 2010 – the same years a hiring freeze and subsequent cuts were implemented. The irony for families who have been waiting weeks or months for emergency aid to be approved is that the same economic woes that led to their need for temporary assistance also led to the elimination of program case managers and staff.

In Maryland, the results of an all cuts budget on such programs are a reduction in staff training, reliance on antiquated information technology systems, an increased workload and uneven distribution of staff.  While trimming the budgetary fat and eliminating waste should be encouraged across ALL departments, the report links cuts to delays and errors in determining program eligibility, as well as other inefficiencies.

As Pennsylvania’s budget is also an all cuts piece of legislation at a time of increasing need, this report may foretell what we will experience as the unintended (I hope) consequences of such measures. How is your nonprofit meeting the challenge of serving more people with fewer resources? Has efficiency suffered due to lack of staff, training or technological resources?

The complete brief, Report Shows Several Local Departments do Social Services Dramatically Understaffed: Nearly 1100 Family Investment Staff Needed to Manage Workload, is available at the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute’s web page.

Free Resource for Community Health Initiatives

A technical report from the RAND Corporation presents a compilation of resources and strategies for community and faith-based organizations to expand and improve their health services. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides opportunities for organizations to build capacity and diversify their healthcare programming and activities based on community needs. Is your organization ready to take a leading role in improving the health and well-being of your neighbors, clients and stakeholders?

The report, Source Materials for the Healthy Communities Toolkit: Resource Guide for Community and Faith-Based Organizations by Joie D. Acosta, Anita Chandra, Malcolm V. Williams and Lois M. Davis is available as an e-book (and as a PDF) at the RAND website. The information in the brief will eventually be integrated into a toolkit to help community organizations in future health initiatives and preventive efforts.

Has a Nonprofit Helped You? Tell Your Story!

Pennsylvania is looking to balance the budget by cutting and curtailing human services programs even as the need for such services has increased.

United Way of Allegheny County and The Pittsburgh Foundation have partnered to promote the campaign Why Cut What Works? in response to these cuts aimed at human and social services funding in Pennsylvania. The campaign encourages those who have received services like those on the chopping block to share their stories (via written word or video) of how Pennsylvania nonprofits have impacted their lives with the policymakers in Harrisburg.

Details on how to participate and about an upcoming rally in downtown Pittsburgh are available on the Why Cut What Works?web site.

Twenty-First Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act Becomes Law

On October 8, President Obama signed into law the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. This law contains provisions (and in some areas, specific funding) that will help ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing and blind or low-vision persons have access to appropriate interfaces for internet technology, television, traditional telephones and smart phones, emergency alerts/bulletins and other methods of communication.

As technology advances it is imperative to make it adaptable (and accessible) to serve all consumers, not just the majority.