currently used on the vast majority of neglect cases to fund unique, flexible, universal, and voluntary community-based responses to support families and give them the time to do what is needed. Some would argue that we should go even further, others might say this is irresponsible, but given our current structure, this would reflect radical and transcendent progress. If you’re not in agreement, ask the family you’re serving what they think and explore their answers. Spend time asking yourself what you believe and why. In their book ‘Unfaithful Angels’, social work researchers Harry Specht and Mark Courtney previously proposed: “A community-based system of social care will be universal- that is, available to everyone; comprehensive- providing on one site, all of the kinds of social services required by an urban community; accessible-easily reached by all people in the area designated as the service area; and accountable-with community residents having a prominent role in making policy for the service and overseeing its implementation. Social services organized in this way have been referred to by different names, we will designate them community service centers. The mode of service delivery we propose is something like what our Victorian ancestors had in mind when they created the settlement house – it is locality based, and it utilizes adult education, social groups, and community associations as its major modes of intervention – but it
differs in several ways too: it is publicly financed (with additional support from the voluntary sector); it is not for the poor alone but for all members of the community; and the leadership is not based on social class differences, with middle class professionals helping lower-class clients, but rather comes from the community it serves.” 10 If a boiler broke at our office, we’d fix it. We don’t have the money to do it, but we’d do it anyway. But this isn’t about new money; it’s about using our money better and acknowledging that we might have to change. It should be about what’s best for others, not my own job. Let’s remember what works. Let’s get back to the basics and shift money to the things we value. What if it was my child? What if it was my family? How would we help them respond to overwhelming stress? A community system of care is the most sophisticatedly simple approach, and it has the power to change the world. Imagine how different our lives and the people we serve could be if we committed to this infrastructure in every community. We already know the answers to invest in, but when the opportunity to speak up on what must be done, we must have the courage to remember. ______________ 10 Specht, Harry, and Mark E. Courtney. “A Proposal for a Community Based System of Care.” Unfaithful Angels: How Social Work Has Abandoned Its Mission, The Free Press, New York, 1995, 152. _________________________ Keith Fanjoy is the Chief Executive Office at SANMAR Family and Community Services.
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