We are excited to share our 2022 Action Plan that aims to ensure our association-wide efforts are focused on what is top of mind for our members—state and local health and human services leaders responsible for overseeing and aligning services that build resilience and bolster family well-being through access to food, health care, employment, child care, and other key building blocks.
This Action Plan builds on our collective work with members and partners over the past few years and is rooted in our current Strategic Playbook (a multi-year plan informed by our members that guides our actions and advances our commitment to advancing the well-being of all people in all places). This annual Action Plan focuses our energies on what’s ripe for action as we work together to overcome both longstanding and new challenges. Notably, in all that we do, we are committed to tackling and dismantling structural inequities, biases, and harms.
As a membership organization representing human services agencies and their leaders, we are committed to (1) people and public service, (2) building common ground, and (3) partnering across sectors to achieve our vision of thriving communities built on human potential. In this critical time in our nation, we seek understanding of root causes, and are committed to evidence and outcomes over ideologies.
As we have been for the past few years, we remain focused on three areas: (1) moving upstream to prevent issues or harm before it can happen; (2) advancing social and economic mobility that builds on family's strengths for long-term success (not just short-term stability); and (3) building field capacity to support our collective ability to get at root causes and apply insights and tools that move us forward. And to make progress in these three focus areas across both policy and practice, we continue to assess what key levers (see below) to pull—sometimes pulling on all six and other times concentrating on just one or two—depending on the issue and what’s most ripe for action. Increasingly, we are focused on supporting the human services field in pulling these levers with and through parent and community leaders with lived expertise.
Cornerstone, our current policy framework, sets forth why human services sit at the Cornerstone for Resilient Communities and a Revitalized Economy and how federal policymakers can help meet the most pressing needs while laying the necessary tracks for all communities to thrive. The recommendations are drawn from the on-the-ground expertise of our members, and last year, we released three Cornerstone policy briefs on priority issues for our members. Specifically, we captured the core principles that must drive TANF modernization; ways to harness data and technology to support thriving communities; and what is needed to unlock the prevention opportunities afforded by the Family First Prevention Services Act. Working with and through our members, we will continue to advance the recommendations in these briefs in 2022.
Specific to the focus area of moving upstream, our main approach is twofold: focus on prevention and early intervention and align systems to advance child and family well-being together. We are cognizant of enabling factors as well as pain points and have identified several key drivers and actionable areas as noted in the Action Plan. Of particular interest to our members at this time is how to leverage investments from the American Rescue Plan Act (check out our 2021 blog series) and sustain structural improvements achieved through the pandemic response.
Specific to the focus on advancing social and economic mobility, we’re concentrating on whole family approaches and tackling benefit cliffs. As with our prevention focus, we are cognizant of enabling factors as well as pain points, and have identified several key drivers and actionable areas as noted in the Action Plan. TANF modernization is a top priority and ties closely with alignment of workforce, education, and human services. Be on the lookout for our new TANF framework being released soon!
Building capacity in the field remains a top focus. We continue to hear from members that supporting the health and well-being of the workforce is a top priority, and we’re committed to supporting the field with tools as well as collaborating with national partners to shine a light on the role the human services workforce plays. We will be launching a field-building institute later this year that will provide access to additional tools and resources in all these areas.
In advancing our work through this Action Plan, we remain committed to outcomes, and impacting (1) more productive narratives; (2) modern policies in health and human services; (3) investment in services that are shown to work; (4) optimizing data and analytical capacity in the field; (5) supporting a healthy workforce; and (6) ultimately, supporting healthy ecosystems on the ground for families and communities.
As you review the plan, we encourage you to connect with us to share your thoughts or questions as well as opportunities we can build on together as we chart the way forward. Thank you for all you do! We hope to see you soon!