Magazine article Public Welfare

America's Partnership Capital

Magazine article Public Welfare

America's Partnership Capital

Article excerpt

There is an important reason why the welfare-to-work experiment described in the following article is happening here in Kansas City, Missouri, the self-described "partnership capital of America." History and tradition bear out that this is a city that brings a strong spirit of collaboration and cooperation to issues, particularly to human service issues. It is a city open to new ideas and experimentation in its social service and educations programs. Kansas City also boasts a vibrant, philanthropic community, enlightened corporate leadership, and extensive networks of volunteers.

In this spirit, it is not surprising that in the wake of the 1988 Family Support Act, the Heart of America United Way initiated contact with us regarding the state's plans for welfare reform. Spearheading the effort was Patty Miller, community activist and chair of a key United Way committee. She invited me to a meeting with other community leaders to discuss how Kansas City might seize control of this new initiative known as the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) Training Program. At that meeting I endorsed the concept of a locally designed program soon to be called FUTURES. Issuing a charge to the group to assemble a proposed design and work plan for the implementation of the JOBS Program, I gave unprecedented latitude and flexibility to the Kansas City community.

Months later, in a stirring presentation, the FUTURES Advisory Committee put forth a bold, innovative plan for implementating their welfare-to-work concepts. …

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