Public and private sector collaboration strengthens community
Local governments, local foundations and nonprofit organizations have a long history of collaborating in King County to address the effects and root causes of poverty in our community. Examples of these collaborations include the shared approaches supporting housing and support services for homeless individuals, families and youth under the umbrella of the Committee to End Homelessness, as well as the joint funding application process undertaken by King County’s suburban cities. The trend locally is to strengthen connections between funders who are looking to leverage each other’s resources on behalf of common community goals.
King County’s human services investments are guided by the King County Strategic Plan and steeped in the County’s unique role of being responsible for countywide specialty systems for public health, mental health, chemical dependency services, developmental disability services and services for veterans. The County’s investments are also linked to its role as a regional provider of services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, youth and family services, and investments that support individuals who are at risk of involvement in the criminal justice system.
Local funding has been affected by reduced revenues and greater expectations of accountability. Several key trends have resulted, including:
- Local funding is increasingly focused on specific goals and objectives related to specific policy goals
- Greater expectation by funders to identify specific outcome measures
- Greater expectation by funders of nonprofit organizations to provide data to support outcome measures and service demographics
- Increased expectation to connect major new funding initiatives to public votes
- Increased challenge for organizations and local funders to adjust to emerging community issues while maintaining key human services infrastructure in light of declining revenues and federal and state program reductions
Looking ahead, opportunities on the horizon include full implementation of federal health-care reform. The expansion of access to health care to those not currently insured is stimulating discussion of how our community can better provide integrated and culturally appropriate assistance to meet the needs of low-income residents beyond health care. We still have a long way to go, but advocates for housing, health care and related support are engaged in conversations. In King County, the broad values of the King County Strategic Plan and King County’s Equity and Social Justice initiative’s determinants of equity provide a strong framework for local officials to work to find new ways to strengthen our housing and health and human service response.