How State Agencies Connect with Faith-Based & Community Organizations | 2019 Interagency Coordinating Group Legislative Report
12 DEC 2019

A strong public sector requires government agencies to work closely with nonprofits, churches, and other local organizations to ensure important social services and resources are reaching local communities. To encourage these partnerships to flourish and thrive, the Texas Legislature established the Interagency Coordinating Group (ICG), a convening of Texas state agency liaisons who are appointed to ensure ongoing outreach and cooperation with faith-based and community groups. As chair of the ICG, OneStar convenes these state agencies twice a year to share best practices and report on their work. These meetings have been instrumental in improving communication between agencies and getting the word out about exciting new initiatives.

This month, OneStar released our 2019 Interagency Coordinating Group Legislative Report, which is an inspiring look at how several state agencies have worked with faith-based and community organizations to better serve Texans over the past year. Here are five highlights from the report that you can share and potentially implement in your own local community!

  • Texas has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the nation, with an estimated 234,000 victims of labor trafficking and 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking in the state at any given time. The Office of the Attorney General has been leading the fight against this heinous crime with their Be The One resources, which includes a training film, online platform, and public service announcement. The materials provide an understanding of what human trafficking is (and is not), identify vulnerable populations that are more likely to be victimized by human traffickers, identify indicators of human trafficking and methods of reporting to the authorities, and highlight actual cases of human trafficking prosecuted in Texas. The campaign has been widely shared with other Texas state agencies, schools, churches, and community-based organizations statewide and is publicly available to organizations for training and education purposes. You can find the video and other Be the One resources here and are encouraged to use them in your own organizations!
  • The Department of Family and Protective Services engages people of faith to support children in foster care and their families in a variety of ways, such as through the Clergy in the Court for Kids program. This initiative invites members of local faith communities to attend court proceedings and gain first-hand understanding of the child welfare system. By facilitating this connection, faith communities are better able to identify and provide resources to families—including food, counseling services, parenting classes, and other goods and services. You can learn more about how DFPS has effectively partnered with Texas CASA on this program and contact DFPS to get your faith community involved.
  • Texas Comptroller’s Statewide Procurement Division has opened up the Texas SmartBuy Membership Program to state-funded nonprofit assistance organizations that offer educational, health or humanitarian services, allowing these entities to purchase equipment and supplies at excellent value and receive discounted rates on fuel and travel, including flights, rental cars, fuel, travel agency services, and hotels. The program empowers local buyers with access to the same competitively bid statewide contracts as Texas state agencies—and without spend thresholds to receive savings. Common purchases include items such as office furniture, vehicles, books, food, and medical supplies. As of this fall, more than 120 assistance organizations participated in this program. You can learn more about the eligibility requirements and benefits and apply now, or contact the Texas SmartBuy Membership Program with any questions.
  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission makes it easy for nonprofits to engage through their Community Partner Program, a statewide network of nearly 400 community partners that receive support, training, certification, and resources on how to access and navigate the state’s YourTexasBenefits.com website. This online portal allows individuals to apply for and manage their public benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP), Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program and TANF. This year, Community Partner Program took part in 66 statewide events and facilitated 41 webinars to over 1,500 participants providing information about health and human services programs. You can learn how to become a community partner here and access community partner resources here.

Check out the full report here to explore more resources and opportunities to partner with Texas state agencies.

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