Welcome, members, partners, and friends! Thank you for taking the time to check out our 2020 annual report highlighting our collective success stories and the opportunities coming out of a year none of us will ever forget. Tracy Wareing Evans, APHSA President & CEO, has taken a few moments to say hello and reflect a little more on the year. See her video message below.
2020 was a year unlike any other, yet it was more important than ever that we remained committed to what has historically defined us as an association: people and public service, building common ground, and partnering across sectors. And although like the rest of the world, we had to shift into crisis mode when the COVID-19 pandemic hit our communities, the focus areas we had originally set forth in our action plan for the year still shined through in all that we did. Our 2020 annual report highlights these three focus areas—moving health and human services upstream, advancing social and economic mobility, and building field capacity.
Weathering the Storm Together.
In early March, as the COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves through every facet of human services systems, APHSA stepped up to the challenge to help state and local agencies weather the storm together. Right as a national public health emergency was declared, APHSA stood up platforms to rapidly share and disseminate information between members through indexing of federal administrative and legislative actions, launching of online peer communities, hosting member calls, and facilitating discussions with federal leadership on the waivers and flexibilities required to maintain the critical human services infrastructure needed to support children and families.
Cornerstone for Resilient Communities and a Revitalized Economy.
Among everything else that came with 2020, it also brought us a presidential election. As APHSA prepared to work with the incumbent administration or a new administration to address the profound economic, health, and inequity challenges before us as a nation, we created transition resources, including our initial blueprint, Cornerstone for Resilient Communities and a Revitalized Economy: The Role of Human Services in Building Well-Being from the Ground Up. The recommendations provided in Cornerstone and its accompanying policy brief on the need to lay new tracks for an equitable recovery are drawn from the on-the-ground expertise of our state and local members and set forth why human services are vital to our communities and economy during times of crises and recovery. It also specifies how federal policymakers can help meet the most pressing needs of our nation. Additional policy briefs will be released throughout 2021.
Advancing Race Equity.
APHSA continues to work to influence policies and practices that address structural bias and inequity, connect our members to resources, organizations, and best practices to apply a race equity lens, and build capacity within public human services to promote social and economic mobility and health and well-being for all races. As we continue to apply a race equity lens to everything we do, we also strive to share stories that showcase our members and partners’ race equity journeys as we did in each of our 2020 Policy & Practice magazine issues.
As human services leaders, we must work intentionally to dismantle structural racism and eliminate inequities. Together we can build a brighter future for generations to come.
In a year that brought forth many challenges also came opportunities for multiple new ideas and beginnings including the launch of APHSA's Leadership Corner.
This new virtual series offered five events focused on leadership. Created to “Spark Inspiration and Innovation” among human serving professionals who are leading the way in their communities, it delivered expertise from thought leaders in our industry and beyond, interactive experiences with lively Q&A discussions, and peer-to-peer connections across the country.
COVID Response Project.
As part of a larger, ongoing grant funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, APHSA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Regional Operations, conducted a series of in-depth interviews with the executive leadership of state health and human services agencies in New England and the Southeast. Based on the 2020 interviews, as well as APHSA’s on-going support of human services agencies’ COVID-19 response efforts throughout the year, the following report was published.
Moving Health and Human Services Upstream
New Housing Supports.
APHSA, the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, and the Child Welfare League of America hosted a webinar providing updates for child welfare agencies on new improvements to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Foster Youth and Housing Initiative.
Supporting Youth Transitioning to Independent Living.
Supporting young adults transitioning from foster care to independent living is a critical component in the public health approach to primary prevention. Throughout 2020, APHSA and Youth Villages worked in partnership to highlight the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth in our federal policy work and spoke with experts in the field of child welfare on how to improve the standard of practice for this population. Learn more in our blog post, COVID-19 Policy Response for Older and Transition Age Foster Youth, and our magazine article, Raising the National Practice Standard for Youth Transitioning from Foster Care.
Elevating the Voices of Youth in Foster Care.
In November, APHSA’s President & CEO, along with APHSA staff, moderated a transition age youth roundtable discussion featuring youth who transitioned from foster care to independent living to help elevate the voices of those with lived experiences. Watch the roundtable discussion here.
Our Desired Future State.
Despite the emergency response to COVID-19, APHSA continued to stay laser focused on advancing human services to our desired future state by being a leading voice on federal policy issues. Over the course of the year, APHSA responded to a wide range of federal policy issues—covering a wide range of topics across a spectrum of matters impacting health and human services. APHSA also continued to broker critical conversations between human services agencies and our federal partners, hosting numerous conversations with the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children & Families and the USDA Food and Nutrition Services.
A Shared Vision of Thriving Families.
With support from Casey Family Programs, APHSA joined forces with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to support the transformation of the child welfare system through a prevention first model. By bringing together our two fields—human services and public health—we can more effectively work toward our shared vision of thriving families. Learn more in our…
Advancing Social & Economic Mobility
SNAP E&T National Partnership Grant.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) selected APHSA, in partnership with the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and National Community Action Partnership (NCAP), for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment & Training (E&T) National Partnership Grant. Selected through a competitive process, this three-year grant totals $2.1 million and kicked off on September 30, 2020. Over the course of the grant, APHSA will deliver training and technical assistance through national membership and affiliate organizations to develop and increase members’ organizational capacity to provide quality, skill-based, employer driven E&T to SNAP recipients.
Supporting Young Parent Families
Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, APHSA and Third Sector joined forces in fall 2020 to produce an array of content highlighting the importance of enhancing and aligning programs, policies, and systems to better support young parent families. Following up on this work, APHSA released additional tools and resources.
National Imperative 2.0.
Our previously published joint report with the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, A National Imperative: Joining Forces to Strengthen Human Services in America, illustrated the value of community-based human services organizations (CBOs) in improving health outcomes. And, while not envisioned at the time, the report actually provided clear guidelines for how we can reimagine health and human services post-pandemic. So, in 2020, we launched National Imperative 2.0—a series of essays focusing on the adaptive and disruptive challenges that the pandemic brings and the steps we can take as a nation to rethink our systems in the wake of a crisis.
Embedding EDI Practices.
APHSA continues to recognize that advancing racial equity is imperative to advancing social and economic mobility for all people. Through our Organizational Effectiveness (OE) practice, we have guided multiple states and localities through their journey embedding Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) practices throughout their organization. Examples of the OE team’s work includes framework development, community partner alignment, building an accountable organizational culture, action planning, and understanding the importance of taking a deep dive into organizational data. Using our Advancing Race Equity Framework, these OE Team lead efforts have illuminated disparate outcomes while paying disciplined attention to race and ethnicity through analyzing problems, looking for solutions, and defining success within each organization.
Place-Based Opportunity Ecosystems.
APHSA and the Kresge Foundation continue their generative partnership guiding place-based opportunity ecosystems—in Mecklenburg County (NC), Dakota County (MN), Jefferson County (CO), San Diego County (CA), Montgomery County (MD), and the island of Hawaii—as they utilize a race equity lens to advance social and economic mobility within their communities. Each place-based opportunity ecosystem is fueled by the people who live in the community, in addition to multiple networks alongside health and human services contributing value through distinct vantage points, and collective impact efforts aimed at addressing systemic barriers while developing capacity for change. Learning and acceleration of each place-based opportunity ecosystem is fueled by leadership, capacity building, community voice, use of data, and workforce well-being and health. Lessons from these sites will be more broadly shared in 2021.
More about APHSA's OE team below!
Additional essays published in 2020:
Building Field Capacity
OE Insights and Tools to Move the Field Forward.
As health and human services organizations adapted to an unprecedented year, APHSA’s Organizational Effecitveness (OE) team shifted to support them in new ways too while also continuing to focus on priority areas including advancing race equity; workforce well-being and health; developing the voice of the community and stakeholders; place-based opportunity ecosystems; and the development of organizational cultures and practices. Throughout 2020, these focus areas were customized throughout OE's work in 18 localities along with the support of numerous grants funded through the Kresge Foundation, W.K.K.F Kellogg Foundation, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
NEICE Connects the Nation.
The National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE) is an electronic system for quickly and securely exchanging all data and documents required by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) to place children across state lines. Seven new states joined in 2020 bringing the number of NEICE states—states with fully executed MOU’s with APHSA—to 45. Continue reading >>
Facilitating Peer Exchange.
APHSA members and staff remained agile and adaptable throughout the year to address real time issues, including Family First Implementation, P-EBT, TANF, Child Care, and other through ongoing work with APHSA Affinity Groups and Peer Communities. Through the quick creation of the online MyAPHSA Communities, planning and facilitation of all state calls, workgroup calls, and more, APHSA members were able to provide critical insight and expertise with one another to successfully navigate uncharted waters.
National Advisory Council.
Formed in 2020, APHSA's Collaborative Center National Advisory Council serves as a body of members to align the work of the APHSA Collaborative Centers which consist of the Center for Child and Family Well-Being, the Center for Employment and Economic Well-Being, and the National Collaborative for the Integration of Health and Human Services. The Council provides valuable insights on what is taking place in the field from multiple vantage points and ensures APHSA's work is aligned to current needs and opportunities. To get involved, contact APHSA’s Knowledge Mobilization Manager.
2020 Virtual Events
In addition to our virtual events, APHSA Strategic Industry Partners hosted several webinars for members with subjects ranging from well-being to how the pandemic impacted business models for states and localities.
APHSA also began to explore podcasts in 2020 with the launch of a new podcast resource page. We are excited to bring new and original content to our members in 2021—stay tuned!
The American Association of Health and Human Services Attorneys (AAHHSA) held a two-day virtual event for their Annual Education Conference. They offered a comprehensive learning and networking experience for health and human service attorneys who represent the state and local government agencies. The virtual event facilitated the exchange of information between attorneys and promoted pragmatic innovation in the field. The rich and robust agenda provided the opportunity to earn continuing legal education units, hear from top attorneys in health and human services, and receive the latest federal updates. Experience AAHHSA 360 2020 conference materials are still accessible through June 30, 2021 via registration.
The National Staff Development and Training Association (NSDTA) held a two-day virtual event where they shared their collective work on supporting human services staff in response to the national pandemic. Topics included: Trauma-Informed Practice and Impact on Staff, Telework Training and Practice Implications, Tools and Resources to Support the Workforce, Employee Wellness, Leadership Development, Evaluating Workforce Efforts, and Dismantling Racism. Keynote speakers were social entrepreneur Lou Radja with “Value Diversity and Leading During Changing Times,” and motivational speaker George Duvall with “Success is a Journey.” Experience NSDTA 360 2020 conference materials are still accessible through June 30, 2021 via registration.