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SAFETY NETS OVERVIEWS

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WRITTEN BY CHRISTLE GEHMAN

Social services are funded through a variety of channels, including the government through block grants, program assistance and funds such as the Child Care and Development fund, along with private donations and community efforts.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is the government branch that oversees all of the government agencies that help to fund social services. But when the government is not able to give their budgeted amount, the burden falls on the community and big benefactors alone to provide funding for organizations such as the ACLAMO Family Center in Norristown.  

“Social services organizations, in the ideal world, you will have a diversity of funding coming from different sources,” Nelly Jimenez-Arevalo, director and CEO of ACLAMO Family Center, said.

“Many of the agencies depend on government funding, which means they’re coming either from federal, though the states, sometimes directly, through the county or the county has money it wants to invest in their neighborhoods.”

Because of funding cuts and political snags, services like the one Jimenez-Arevalo runs look to diversify where their financial support comes from. Even so, the community and donors alone can not support multiple services within their own community.

Social services that function as nonprofits also experience many of the same funding issues.Jimenez-Arevalo says, “Many nonprofit organizations depend on those funds coming in from the county and the state from a federal level.”

Saleem Brown, founder of the Writing Foundation program, says that when it comes to funding of services, “the process with the nonprofit is very difficult as some may know. You always have to beg [or] ask for money to get your nonprofit going so that’s all I’ve been doing is talking it up wherever I am.”

Directors like Jimenez-Arevalo and Brown are always advocating to raise funds and awareness to provide a safety net.    

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Americans who earn $200,000 or more reduced their contributions to charity by 4.6 percent from 2006 to 2012.

“The schools are suffering, the social services programs are suffering and I had to cut a lot of people in December. We are depending on a lot of individuals to give us money to try to survive. We had to let go of people because we didn’t have money,”Jimenez-Arevalo said.

According to a report by Giving USA, about 12 percent of American donations go to social services that are geared towards human services, such as housing, anti-hunger programs and after school services for kids.

Generous benefactors that give private donations are not enough to support social services that are in place to act as safety nets for lower income individuals, Jimenez-Arevalo, said. She said that diversifying funds and raising money helps but is only a bandaid solution to a much greater problem in society.      

“The children don’t stop growing and don’t stop being in the streets. A lot of nonprofits are suffering but most of all, our children are suffering. Our programs, the people who are receiving the food, the people who are not receiving the transportation, a lot of our kids with disabilities, parents are suffering because they don’t have the support that these kids need to be productive members of society,”Jimenez-Arevalo said.