HD103 - Report of the Special Task Force Studying the Ways Faith-Based Community Service Groups May Provide Assistance to Meet Social Needs

Executive Summary:

The Special Task Force held several meetings during the interim to determine the best method to accomplish its goal of enhancing the implementation of the Charitable Choice provision of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, known as the Welfare Reform Act. The Task Force heard from a variety of persons and groups interested in the charitable choice provision and had an opportunity to examine the inherent constitutional problems that accompany the legislation and that have not to date been clarified. The Task Force was energized by the knowledge of the high level of current cooperation between the Department of Social Services and private, charitable and faith-based organizations and the quantity and quality of services currently being provided by faith-based groups. Many of the roadblocks to group participation may come from perceptual problems and lack of information. For this reason, the Task Force made a number of recommendations regarding (i) creating a better working relationship between the state and private, charitable and faith-based organizations, (ii) removing any impediments in current regulation, if any are found, which would deter participation by these groups, (iii) encouraging private donations to eligible groups providing services to welfare recipients, (iv) expanding current programs which would allow individual choice of programs and program content, and (v) continuing the Task Force for an additional year to review the accomplishments from these recommendations and examine other areas with potential for expansion of the Charitable Choice provision.