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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.  

Social Safety Nets

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WRITTEN BY ABBIE KEEFE

When people don’t have health care, everyone is affected. Not being able to obtain health insurance for some can lead to negative effects for not only the individuals who are uninsured, but for others as well, according to a report from The US National Library of Medicine.

So, who else does it affect? The suppliers. Physicians may not be reimbursed for their hard work when a client cannot afford the bill. This occurs when patients do not have insurance coverage. Private practice doctors may be available at any hour and may be able to make house calls for their services. However, only the individuals with financial stability can afford this luxury.

As the services are funded through a number of different ways, the government maintains them through grants and assistance, even utilizing private donations.

Less than a quarter of donations in the United States go to social services targeted towards civil liberties like food programs, housing and safety services for children, according to Giving USA.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is where the government aids the funding of social services. When the government cannot contribute their proposed amount of funding, it’s up to the community, and others, to aid these organizations that desperately need finances.

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The systemic issues in America have a wide web of roots but grow from the same trunk. A major player feeding the issues is the disparity of wealth between classes, races and genders. Essentially, wealth inequality affects everyone.

It is a business’ job to make a bottom line. It is a political system’s job to represent their constituents and develop policy. So, if a political system is knotted with business, money trumps the moral obligations of a society. At what point is a dollar worth more than someone’s livelihood or future?

The way to make a change starts with being socially responsible. By flexing your democratic muscles, you’re exercising your given right as an American.

But you can’t just do that.

In order to fix anything in this nation, we have to acknowledge where we are and everyone has to be informed. Right now people are suffering, struggling and barely surviving in this beautiful nation because of the inequality of wealth.

“America is so much stronger when we see ourselves as a quilt. When I take the best of you and you take the best of me and we put it together, we are so much stronger,” Renee Hughes, chief executive of the eastern Pennsylvania region of the American Red Cross, said. “I don’t have to be like you, you don’t have to be like me, but we do need to all share values.”

Everything in society today comes down to money. For a family of four, being in poverty means that the total income does not exceed $23,850, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2014, there were a total of 46.7 million people in poverty in the United States alone, meaning that people were not making enough to survive.

But that could change.

It is a very important time in the United States. A time when new leadership will be coming in, which means the importance of voting is higher now than ever before. If every citizen takes a stand by voting, lobbying, calling their congressmen and women, there is a high chance that the systemic flaws you want to see reformed, will be discussed by your government.

“I think the concept of the common good, is one that might be developed in a way to contextualize so much of what we need to do,” Mark Rosenman, a nonprofit sector scholar and activist, said.

Do you want to be a part of a nation that sits idle or turns a blind eye when the perpetual cycle of devastation is happening in your own backyard?

We hope not.

 

 

WRITTEN BY MACKENZIE HARRIS