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Religion and Social Welfare Policy
Here is the best source of information about the faith-based initiative in providing social services.

Below is text from the About Us section of the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy. It is the best source for research and information about the faith-based initiative for providing social services. The full website can be viewed at:

http://www.religionandsocialpolicy.org

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The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy will address the nation's need for a fuller, balanced assessment of the emerging role of faith-based organizations in the American social welfare system. The Roundtable will undertake an independent review of research studies conducted to date, evaluating the effectiveness and efficacy of faith-based organizations involved in delivering social services. It will produce first-rate, nonpartisan social science research addressing gaps in knowledge, and engage policy makers, media representatives, and religious and civic leaders in a sustained discussion of the findings.

To accomplish this goal, the Roundtable will set up a comprehensive database of the best available social science research on the scope and efficacy of faith-based social services as well as track important legal and policy developments in this area. Building on the best work in the field, the Roundtable will partner with institutions known for producing balanced analysis of legal and constitutional issues in religion and law and for facilitating dialogues around difficult policy issues.

The Roundtable's research and dissemination activities will be coordinated by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York in Albany. The project will assess the role and effectiveness of faith-based organizations in social service delivery, incorporating an analysis of the differences between faith-based social service programs and similar secular programs in terms of their impact and mode of operation. A second element will examine the relationship between faith-based organizations and public and private funders, documenting the extent and nature of anti-poverty collaborations between religious charities and their governmental and private sector partners. Third, project staff and a national network of researchers will carefully track changes in legislation, regulations, and licensing requirements related to religious social service providers at federal, state and local levels. Together these research activities contribute toward a comprehensive picture of policies and practices related to faith-based social services.

Partnering with the Rockefeller Institute under the aegis of the Roundtable, George Washington University Law School will track and analyze legal and constitutional developments related to government support for faith-based organizations at the federal and state levels. As one of only two law schools in the country that offers a Master's in Legal Letters with a concentration in Government Contracts, GW's tracking project benefits from a rich source of data and research support on social service contracts between government and other public and private institutions, including faith-based organizations. Legal research will involve monitoring court dockets for filings and decisions on relevant cases, as well as agency publications and news releases for information on rule-making and administrative decisions. In addition to tracking legal developments, staff will provide nonpartisan analysis on such legal questions as religious selectivity in the employment practices of faith-based organizations, the distinction between "pervasively sectarian" and other kinds of faith-based organizations (for example, church-affiliated community development corporations), and the constitutional status of voucher programs as compared to direct grants to religious institutions.

A second partner under the Roundtable, Search for Common Ground, will convene a divergent group of approximately 30 national leaders representing key stakeholder groups in a sustained dialogue designed to forge new agreements on the role of faith-based organizations in our social welfare system. Search for Common Ground's efforts in the United States have focused on helping groups that are on opposite sides of contentious policy issues find areas of agreement. A pilot program launched this past summer sought to develop a common understanding of areas of agreement and disagreement among a diverse group of 40 leading stakeholders involved in the issue of extending government support for faith-based social services. By focusing on particular types of social services or funding arrangements with faith-based organizations, Search for Common Ground's consensus building approach will seek to expand understanding among the major stakeholders of the main areas of agreement and disagreement and thereby accelerate the formation of well-grounded public policy on this important issue.

To broadly disseminate the research findings, Roundtable staff at the Rockefeller Institute will undertake several activities. First, project staff will gather the publications and reports from each of the research components and distribute these to a mailing list of selected stakeholders as well as to a broader audience through this web site, which serves as a comprehensive resource for information on issues related to faith-based social services. Staff also will host workshops and panel discussions at conferences for state and local policy officials at which they will highlight the results of the research, including relevant legal and policy developments. The Roundtable will also collaborate with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life to host "rapid response" press events in Washington, DC to examine breaking policy and legal developments at the federal level. To provide a focal point for all its work, the Roundtable will host an annual conference where research findings and other material will be released and discussed.

An Advisory Council of distinguished leaders from government, civic and religious organizations, business, and academic institutions, will guide the Roundtable in its critical research and dissemination activities.

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Date Added: 1/8/2004 Date Revised: 1/8/2004 11:27:06 AM

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