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March 2014: Strengthening Community Programs and Partnerships

This month’s MECP newsletter concludes our series on effective approaches for developing sustainable programs among faith-based and nonprofit organizations that serve missing and exploited children, their families, and their communities.

Our feature article looks at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), which has been helping citizens implement community-driven change for more than 30 years. Now, working with the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program, CSSP is helping communities apply neighborhood revitalization plans and address public safety concerns through powerful community partnerships.

MECP’s 3rd Wednesday at 2 p.m. webinar, entitled Making Dollars and Sense, is the final installment of our three-part series based on Faith and Communities in Action: A Resource Guide for Increasing Partnership Opportunities to Prevent Crime and Violence, which was developed by the Department of Justice’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Our guest speaker is Mike Zagury, co-author of the guide, who discusses tools and strategies that can help nonprofit organizations effectively apply for and manage grants.

Finally, as part of our coverage of this topic, MECP would like to include you. We invite you to tell us how partnerships have impacted your organization and which resources you have found to be most useful. See “Share Your Story” below, for a link on how you can share your story with us.

3rd Wednesday at 2 p.m. Webinar Series: Making Dollars and Sense Smiling children

Over the past three months we have explored the ideas and strategies presented in the Faith and Communities in Action resource guide by inviting the authors to discuss best practices for improving partnerships, building capacity, and effectively applying for and managing grants.

To conclude the series, Mike Zagury examines the foundations for successfully applying for grant funding, the steps required to design an effective and fundable grant budget, performance measures for building a sustainable program, and the additional resources available for groups seeking assistance with the proposal development process, such as grant writing and management.

To view the recording of this webinar, please visit here.

Building the Capacity for Change, Center for the Study of Social Policy

Many communities face the complex, interrelated challenges of poverty, crime, failing schools, and housing instability. These unfortunate outcomes are often the result of several factors, including unequal access to opportunity and decades of disinvestment in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. Yet, years of research have shown that families do better when they live in strong and supportive communities.

For the past three decades, the Center for the Study of Social Policy has been strengthening communities, helping them transform into neighborhoods where children and families can thrive. CSSP’s work is driven by the belief that there are specific capacities that can improve outcomes for children, families, and communities. CSSP has distilled these capacities into a framework that highlights the knowledge, skills, relationships, and organizational resources needed to achieve and sustain results. Central to the framework is a commitment to local wisdom, local experience, and the leadership of residents of the community.

Since 2012, CSSP has infused this framework into its work with eight neighborhoods participating in the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP). Established as part of the Federal Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, BNCP is catalyzing community-driven change and helping participants to create and implement neighborhood revitalization plans. Although all of the participating neighborhoods have experienced a web of difficult challenges, nearly every neighborhood has chosen to focus its efforts on the need to improve public safety. But each neighborhood is approaching public safety through a different lens—such as the reduction of crime, elimination of blight, and development of mentoring opportunities for young men.

Though the situations vary locally, the BNCP neighborhoods have begun to address public safety concerns by developing the key capacities, including the design of accountable community partnerships. To tackle the complex issue of public safety, these partnerships have recruited members from various sectors, including residents, police departments, housing authorities, community foundations, civic leaders, human service organizations, and the faith community. Together, these partnerships draw on both the life experiences of residents and the expertise of organizational partners to define public safety challenges and implement solutions that meet community needs.

For example, in Fresno, CA, residents recently decided to improve the quality of street lighting as a means to enhance the sense of safety and security in their neighborhood. After residents gathered to map the location and quality of current streetlights, they shared their data with the city of Fresno. The result? Broken streetlights were immediately fixed, streetlights disturbed by wire theft were repaired, and preventive measures were put in place to address future streetlighting issues.

In Milwaukee, WI, one neighborhood put together a steering committee composed of residents and other representatives from the local community, including local foundations, a hospital, and community-based nonprofits, among others. Using data generated from surveys and focus groups, the committee will design solutions that are focused on creating safety by engaging young people in the community.

In both of these communities—as well as in the eight BNCP neighborhoods nationwide—neighborhood and citywide leaders and organizations are working together to improve neighborhood outcomes. Want to learn more about BNCP and how to build capacity in your own community? Check out the BNCP Resource Center.  


Additional Resource

Making a Difference in Your Neighborhood: A Handbook for Using Community Decision-Making to Improve the Lives of Children, Youth and Families.

Share Your Story

How have community partnerships impacted your organization’s work on missing and exploited children’s issues?

MECP invites you to share your story about your organization’s contributions to the juvenile justice field. The goal is to expand awareness about the complexity of the issues surrounding missing children and child exploitation as well as to acknowledge the impact of your work—its value for practice, policy, ongoing research, advocacy, and more importantly, for youth, families, and communities. We’d also like to promote networking opportunities to help organizations across the country connect with one another and inspire others by sharing success stories in our monthly newsletter. To submit your story, please visit here.

Upcoming Events

March 31–April 4, 2014. The Institute for New Juvenile and Family Court Judges is designed specifically for State and tribal judicial officers who are new to the juvenile and family court bench, or who are returning to the bench after other assignments and desire a refresher course. The curriculum for the intensive 4½ day institute, previously known as Core College, is designed to develop core competencies for juvenile and family court judges. Topics include judicial leadership and the role of the judge, ethics, decision-making, evidence, child and adolescent development, schools and the court, trauma-informed justice, abuse and neglect, delinquency, interpersonal violence, custody, divorce, self-represented litigants, and dealing with the media.

April 8–10, 2014. The Crimes Against Children in Indian Country Conference will explore the unique and challenging threats to both the physical and emotional development of Native American youth. The conference was organized to help tribal communities gain access to resources to help them respond more effectively to the unmet needs of Native youth. The planning committee is made up of representatives from a wide range of tribal and nontribal law enforcement, government, and social service agencies. An important goal of the conference is to strengthen relationships among the various agencies, tribes, and States to promote a multidisciplinary, multijurisdictional approach to serving Native young people.

April 28–May 2, 2014. The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) is offering its Child Forensic Interview Clinic to focus on the needs of professionals responsible for conducting forensic or investigative interviews with children in suspected abuse cases. Interviews with children have received intense scrutiny in recent years and increasingly require specialized training and expertise. This comprehensive clinic offers a unique opportunity to participate in an intensive 40-hour training experience and interact with leading experts in the field of child forensic interviewing. Developed by top experts, APSAC’s curriculum teaches a structured narrative interview approach that emphasizes best practices based on research and is guided by the best interests of the child. Attendees will receive a balanced review of several protocols and will develop their own customized narrative interview approach based on the principles taught during the clinic and contained in the 2012 APSAC Practice Guidelines on Forensic Interviewing in Cases of Suspected Child Abuse.

For more information about upcoming events, please visit here.

MECP’S Training Center

Request Training and Technical Assistance From MECP. MECP offers training and technical assistance tailored to meet the specific needs of State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other juvenile justice practitioners. For information on how your agency or organization can receive training and technical assistance on missing and exploited children’s issues, please contact MECP at 1–888–347–5610 or [email protected] To submit a request for training and technical assistance, please complete a training and technical assistance form.