Children, Families, and Communities
A New Approach to Social Services
This report explores the potential benefits of a major shift in children's policy, from a focus aimed almost exclusively at reacting to problems to a focus that would both enhance child development and family functioning and respond appropriately to problems as they arise.
The report describes in detail the major elements of a reconfigured system of primary supports and social services. Primary supports are activities, facilities, and events provided by organizations that are part of families' familiar social world. They are available for use voluntarily and provide access to community facilities such as libraries, parks, and museums. Such a system would include the creation of community-based planning and governance groups to launch the process of system development; the enhancement of primary supports to allow them to work more effectively, both separately and as part of a new system; the development of mechanisms to allow collaboration between the largely privately supported primary supports and the largely publicly financed specialized services; the development of organized training opportunities for providers of both specialized social services and primary supports; and the improvement of access to services for children and families.