Advisory Social Services Board Letter


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County of Fairfax, Virginia


To protect and enrich the quality of life for the people, neighborhoods and diverse communities of Fairfax County

April 2017

Dear Chairman Bulova and Members of the Board of Supervisors:

The Fairfax County Advisory Social Services Board serves as an umbrella for the Fairfax County Department of Family Services' nine advisory boards and commissions. The support you have shown for DFS and all of Health and Human Services in the past has paid great dividends for our county and its residents. As you deliberate this year's budget, we strongly encourage you to direct resources - across all County agencies - on prevention and intervention services to achieve the greatest positive impact on the health and well-being of Fairfax County residents.

The Department of Family Services, and all of the human services agencies, positively impact other Fairfax County Government functions through prevention efforts. When they receive help early, children are more likely to be successful in school and require fewer school interventions1; teens are more likely to be engaged in work or educational pursuits and less likely to be incarcerated2; adults are more likely to own homes and businesses3, contributing to the County's revenue; older adults are more likely to remain active and independent4; and people with disabilities have the skills to be successfully employed and engaged.6 This is the foundation of a strong and vibrant community. The success of our county is built upon a solid framework of excellent public schools, low crime, and a human services system of supports that provides opportunities for all residents to thrive. When budget reductions are necessary, it is natural to look first at services that are non-mandatory, like many prevention programs. This strategy weakens our infrastructure, further taxing those services that are mandatory, such as Child Protective Services, Foster Care, Adult Protective Services, Financial and Medical Assistance, and many others, including public safety and public education. Investing in our community and our residents through intervention programs has repeatedly been proven to prevent more serious and expensive actions further down the road.

There are many successful prevention programs in DFS and throughout the county's Human Services System. It is extremely important that they remain funded, and after nearly a decade of stagnant budgets and constant reductions, now is the time to expand these value added programs which will help ensure the financial integrity of Fairfax County for decades to come. As we build upon our accomplishments and face challenges together, the ASSB and the undersigned BACs look forward to continuing their partnership with DFS, the Board of Supervisors and the residents of Fairfax County to maximize the potential of every single person.

Sincerely,

Members of the Advisory Social Services Board
Disability Services Board
Child Care Advisory Council
Commission for Women
Fairfax Area Commission on Aging
Community Action Advisory Board
Fairfax County Head Start Policy Council
SACC Parent Advisory Council
Healthy Families Advisory Council

1. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ofc/school-readiness/children-and-families/
2. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/troubled-teens.aspx
3. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/research/topic/overview/self-sufficiency-welfare-employment
4. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/olderadultservices/elderlink.htm
5. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/childrenyouth/families/neighborhood-networks.htm
6. http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/DIToolkit/Costs/inDetail/

One example of a DFS prevention program that has far-reaching impact is Neighborhood Networks5. In partnership with 14 Fairfax County public elementary schools, one preschool and two community-based nonprofit partners, the program targets the families of children at-risk of child abuse and neglect and links them to county and community services. Depending on a family's needs, those services could include kinship care and services for older adults (for grandparents raising grandchildren), affordable child care, support for victims of domestic violence, public assistance benefits, employment services, mental health, housing, and more. Over the past two years, Neighborhood Networks has served about 100 families, at an approximate cost of $7,600 per family. This relatively inexpensive program most likely helped some families remain together and avoid more costly interventions later (in comparison, it costs approximately $55,000 per child per year in foster care). We have improved children's school performance, helped families become stable and remain together, helped families move toward self-sufficiency, and strengthened their networks of support. This early intervention/prevention effort is a cost-effective way to support and strengthen families, enabling them to thrive in our community.


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