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Research & Policy

Building a community agenda: Developing local governance entities
Center for the Study of Social Policy

Services for children, whether administered at the federal or state level, are often uncoordinated and conflicting, a situation that fragments the services and reduces their impact. Often, various services differ in their approach to vulnerable families, and they prevent comprehensive management at the local level.

This paper calls for transforming local government and human services agencies into one governing body in the local community that focuses on children and families. Local collaborations serve to establish agreement in problem-solving for the community, enabling community agencies, institutions, and individuals to cooperate through one governance entity that can set goals and design strategies, develop effective services, and coordinate finances and accountability. By unifying communication, financing, and planning, and consolidating leadership and authority, governing bodies can better serve children and families. To assure they best serve the needs of the community, such bodies must be flexible and prepared for continuing evaluation. Since local governance units are relatively new and localized, there is room for model experimentation. For maximum change, legitimate community groups must have "political ownership" of the process. In planning such governing units, specific issues must be addressed: auspices, membership and representation, authorization of responsibilities, and staffing.

Center for the Study of Social Policy
1250 Eye Street, NW
Suite 503
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 371-1565
Fax: (202) 371-1472
(1991, 23 pp.; $7.50)


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Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.