April 14, 1999
Next Steps In Welfare Reform, continued
How the Private Sector Turns Hope Into Jobs
Mr. OLSEN: Our next panel will discuss how the private sector turns hope into jobs. Our moderator, again, will be Dr. Larry Mead.
DR. MEAD: Thank you, Henry. In our second panel our main subject will be the rebuilding of welfare. We need a new welfare system centered on work that will energize people for participation in American life. A theme that we see in this rebuilding process -- already visible in many states, notably in Wisconsin, but not only there -- is the increasing number of private agencies that work with government in delivering welfare services and other programs.
Private social welfare agencies have long acted as contractors for the government. But it's gone further than that. A group of smaller and newer organizations are now working for a government on a contract basis.
This has gone farther in Wisconsin than elsewhere, to the point that in Milwaukee, the cash welfare system has been handed over to five private and non-profit organizations.
Why are we doing this? Well, there are some traditional reasons coming out of public administration and what is referred to as the reinvention of government. Private organizations are often more efficient and more responsive to the needs of government than traditional public bureaucracy. But some private organizations are better able to instill a new spirit in the welfare population. Often people who found or join these organizations are true believers in the mission. Many people in government are as well, but it's more common in the private sector.
Churches have played a growing role in many of these programs. Again, that isn't new. There have been church agencies involved in social welfare for a long time, but the newer institutions are, I think, different in spirit. Their purpose is not simply to help people in the old sense. It’s also to inspire them, to challenge them, to involve them in their community.
I think these developments are highly positive, but they do pose some dangers. We want to assure that the involvement of private organizations does not mean there are tremendous differences in the kind of assistance offered. We want there to be some commonality across the entire population.
One can see a system emerging in which the public and private sectors work together for mutual benefit. It’s a system in which the public institutions set the basic boundaries for eligibility and benefits, and define the public obligations. Those decisions are coming predominantly now from state legislatures. I find that entirely appropriate. Public officials who serve the poor should speak and act with the mandate of the people. They should expect to serve the public and also to demand that recipients conform to what I call the common obligations.
However, the allocation of services and benefits might well be implemented by a contracting regime in which private organizations, those who work most directly with the poor, are involved, because they bring resources like inventiveness, spirit, and commitment, that are invaluable in the public enterprise.
Our panel includes three experts on these developments. First, Amy Sherman is Director of Urban Ministries at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia and an Adjunct Fellow of the Manhattan Institute. Dr. Sherman holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and is an expert on faith-based models of social service provision. She will discuss how the churches can seize their chance to help make a success of welfare reform.
Peter Cove is the founder and president of America Works, a private organization that specializes in putting welfare recipients to work and makes a profit doing so. Peter has pioneered and publicized many innovative ideas in welfare, especially the need to involve private organizations, to pay providers on the basis of performance, stressing actual work over education training and also give recipients special help to stay on the job once they have a job. I think it's fair to say that there's nobody in America who challenges and infuriates the public bureaucracy more than Peter Cove.
Finally, Richard Schwartz, president and CEO of Opportunity America. Opportunity America manages welfare-to-work projects for government agencies and also major private employers. Prior to this, Richard was senior advisor to Mayor Giuliani in New York, and the principal architect of the Mayor's early welfare-to-work reforms. These reforms triggered the caseload fall that began then and continues today in the Big Apple. Richard will share his thoughts on building successful welfare to work programs.
AMY SHERMAN: Given the brevity of our time I thought I'd do three quick things: First, simply describe the scale of what's going on in partnerships between the government and the faith community to help welfare recipients. Second, offer a brief assessment of those initiatives. And third, provide some suggestions for how we might increase these efforts.
In terms of describing what’s going on, let me give you some basic statistics. There are new partnerships between the government and the faith community in 20 states now. These programs vary widely in their scale. There are small-scale things going on in places like Maryland and Iowa that might involve 30, 50 or 70 welfare recipients. And there are larger-scale programs in places like Texas, South Carolina and Mississippi where literally hundreds of families are being served through these partnerships.
Some of these partnerships are with state government, while some are with cities or counties. The vast majority of them are non-financial in nature, although in five states we have seen new financial partnerships formed between the government and faith-based organizations. In addition to the 20 states I mentioned, there are discussions about starting new things in eight other states.
I think we can say two things about just what’s out there. First, there's obviously an enormous interest in these kinds of state-church partnerships. It's certainly accurate to suggest that there had been collaboration between religious providers of social services and government entities prior to welfare reform. But it is equally accurate to say that there has been a dramatic and remarkable interest in these kinds of partnerships since welfare reform.
However, my second observation is that though there is a lot going on, the overall scale is very modest relative to the size of the welfare population. I wouldn't want to be quoted, but my best estimate is that there might be about 2,500 to 3,000 families being served through these new partnerships.
A quick clarification: I'm not suggesting that 2,500 to 3,000 are the total number of poor families in America currently being served by the religious community. That statistic is more like tens of millions of people. The 2,500 number refers simply to those who are involved in these relatively new church-government partnerships in these various states. According to a 1997 study by the Aspen Institute, faith-based organizations spend annually about $15 to $20 billion serving lower income families, so there's an enormous amount of help that the faith community provides to the poor. I wouldn't want my 2,500 to 3,000 statistics to mislead you.
In terms of assessment, we have to ask a couple of questions. It appears that there is growing government-state collaboration. Is this an important trend? Does it mean anything? And I would argue that it does, for at least two reasons. First, it demonstrates that the government welfare bureaucracies have a new attitude. These organizations have a new mandate not to just give out checks, but to help people move toward self-sufficiency. And they are saying they can’t do it alone. So there's a much greater receptivity to and appreciation of the institutions of civil society that can cooperate with government bureaucracies to serve people. There's a new attitude in the bureaucratic subculture that is important.
Second, the trend is important because of the changes it's bringing about in the way the faith community performs services in the lives of the poor. I run a faith-based organization. I write lots of positive things about what the churches are doing around the country. But I'm also a critic. We have made the mistake in the religious community that the old welfare system made in many instances. We used to just make people dependent on us. We used to just give out checks and money and used clothes and canned goods and not really give of our selves and our time.
However, these new partnerships primarily focus on welfare-to-work mentoring. The local social services department says to the church, “Would you work with this family over time - nine months, 12 months, two years? And this is changing churches. They’re not just handing out commodities to poor people. They’re building relationships, which really will bring about significant, lasting, sustainable, and positive change in people's lives. So that's a very important reform that's taken place within the faith community.
A second assessment question: There are a lot more of these partnerships, but are they doing anything? Are they effective? Are they helping real people? There are two answers to that question. The hard-nosed empirical answer is, we don't know. There are just not a lot of number-crunching studies out there. There's not a lot of hard data out there.
However, from an anecdotal perspective, I think we can give a relatively positive answer. There are a lot of success stories. I've had the great privilege of documenting quite a few of them. Moreover, many of these partnerships are keeping some kind of records about what they're doing with these lower income families, and at least the initial statistics that they're publishing are encouraging.
In North Carolina, for example, the jobs partnership program has graduated 347 individuals, and 339 of them, or 97 percent, are working full-time. The vast majority of them have been on the job for almost two years.
So we have statistics like that. There are others that I can share with you in the question and answer time that are encouraging.
The new system makes a lot of demands on people, demands that weren't formerly made. Under the new system people have to go to work. People have to learn new skills. People have to manage their money. People have to overcome the challenges of daycare and transportation. It seems apparent that if individuals facing those challenges are surrounded by people there to provide emotional and practical support, they will be more likely to move ahead than individuals who do not have that kind of emotional and practical support.
Finally, assuming these efforts work, how do we go about increasing the number of church-government partnerships? I want to mention four things that could help.
The first is something a few governments have already done, and that is to designate a specific office or staff person to act as liaison with the faith-based community. Mississippi and Pennsylvania have done this at the state level, and several places, including San Diego, Montgomery, Alabama and Charlotte, North Carolina have done this at the county level.
The most effective strategy seems to involve the government hiring a member of the faith community as liaison. They can speak the language, they have immediate credibility and they know how to navigate that community.
Second, we need to educate people about Charitable Choice. I'm delighted to be part of the Center for Public Justice and its efforts to get the word out about Charitable Choice. There is vast ignorance about the provision within both the government and the faith community. As most of you know, Charitable Choice is the section of the welfare reform law that creates a more hospitable climate for these church-state partnerships by assuring religious organizations their programs will not be secularized if they join forces with government.
Third, we should sponsor conferences designed to bring people in the faith community and people in government together. With the Center for Public Justice, I had the opportunity to be part of such an event in Philadelphia that brought together more than 300 people and accomplished a number of important things.
It educated people about Charitable Choice. It provided training workshops so members of the faith community could learn about how to work with people and help them transform their lives. We brought in people from different church-government collaborations to tell their story and to teach people their approach. And we provided a place to meet, and said, “If you're interested in daycare, go talk to this government person. If you're interested in welfare to work mentoring, go talk to that government person.” We began to get people together.
These kinds of conferences are enormously useful, and the Pew Charitable Trusts showed a lot of wisdom in funding that initiative. I would certainly want to encourage others to do this sort of thing.
My final suggestion for increasing the number of church-government collaborations is to suggest that the government and the philanthropic community both invest in what I would call strategic intermediary organizations. These are organizations that stand between the government and the faith community. The best single example of this is an organization in Holland, Michigan, called the Good Samaritan Ministry.
Good Sam played a crucial role in helping Ottawa County become the first locality in the United States to get every able-bodied welfare recipient into a job. Under a contract with the government, the organization recruited, mobilized and trained members of the faith community to engage welfare recipients face-to-face and help them change their lives. It was a very effective and efficient way of managing and facilitating that partnership.
We need more organizations like the Good Samaritan Center to play an intermediary role. And we need more government dollars, and more philanthropic community dollars, to support these partnerships. Thank you.
Dr. MEAD: Peter.
PETER COVE: Thank you. It's good to be here today. I just wanted to say I've known Larry Mead since the days he was considered the Barry Goldwater of welfare reform. And while I don't think he's become the Ted Kennedy of that movement, it's a testament to his prescient thinking that this country has come to adopt so many of his views. Larry knows more about welfare than anyone does.
I want to speak today a little bit about how you get people into jobs, and how to prepare welfare recipients for the long-term. But I'm going to divide it up a little more and push it a little bit, as Charles did. Because I don't think we're really doing that.
America Works is operating now in seven cities, and we'll be in 11 cities by the end of June.
Let me give you an idea of how you get people working and how you keep them in jobs. The first thing is you give them access to the workplace. We have a very strong sales force that opens the doors for people, because we believe that you don't get jobs so much because of what you know but whom you know.
Welfare recipients usually do not have access to people who can get them jobs. Because we're dealing with women, we become the old girls network, if you will. We get them into the companies where the uncles and the aunts and the sisters and the mothers and the brothers and the fathers might have got them jobs 20 or 30 years ago.
The second thing we believed was that people lose their jobs not because of what they don't know, but because of what I call the static in their lives that gets in the way of them performing the tasks necessary to survive in the job. What do I mean by that? Perhaps it’s a sick child, an abusive mate, transportation problems, or not understanding the mores of the workplace. What do you do when your supervisor asks you to do something you don't want to do? There's one way of handling that in the street and there's another way of handling that on the job.
What do you do when you have nothing to do at work? Most of us know, but many -- not all, but many -- of the people we're dealing with don’t have any idea. Do you just sit there and read a book or do you go to a supervisor and ask them, “Is there something I can do”?
So the second thing is to really help with the static. America Works pioneered an approach based on the idea that our work is only really beginning once we place a person in a job. Before, most programs had just dumped people and then run. They got them jobs, collected money from the government and were home free. We felt that if we worked with the individual and the line managers at the workplace to deal with the static, we would see long-term retention.
That approach's effectiveness was proven in a study by New York State’s Department of Social Services. Last year, they did a random study of people we had placed three years before to determine what percentage were back on the welfare rolls. The answer was only 12 percent. Eighty-eight percent were still off the rolls. And these people had been on welfare an average of just under five years prior to coming to America Works.
It's the intervention at the work site that really makes a difference in the person’s being able to handle the job, stay in the job and to be successful. I would postulate that any good welfare-to-work program should do it that way. But there are other ways of doing it.
Given that, why aren't we doing good welfare to work all over the country? I would suggest, as Charles Murray did, that the drop in the welfare rolls does not necessarily mean we have helped people gain independence. I'm not sure, and the data is not yet in. But I watch what’s happening on a day-to-day basis, and I don’t think we are investing in the kinds of programs that will move people from welfare to work.
How do we get good programs? We get them by paying for them. I know that sounds tautological, but actually what I'm saying is that we pay for process in most welfare-to-work programs. We pay for little pieces along the way. And groups like mine or Richard's or others’ get paid all along the way. It doesn’t matter if the former welfare recipient is not working in six months or a year. We still get paid.
I would turn that right on its head. I would say the government should pay only for successful welfare-to-work placements, in which people hold jobs for a minimum of six months or a year. I'll share with you an anecdote. I was in a state negotiating a contract and I said exactly that to the contract officer. I said, “You're paying me all along the way. It means I can make a bigger profit and it's easier for me. But why don't you just pay me at the end because I set my company up to show we could do a good job with this approach and be paid for results, like other private sector companies. So, just pay me at the end.”
She said, “I can't do that, Mr. Cove.” I said, “Why can't you do that?” And she said, “Because I'd lose all my other contractors.” I said, “I didn't know that you were in the business of propping up an inefficient marketplace.” And she said, “You're being very naive, Mr. Cove. You don't understand.”
I feel very strongly that we still have in place a welfare-industrial complex that is like a glacier. It kind of creates its own climate. And it has created a climate that propels process rather than product.
Just think what would happen if we took all the money being spent on welfare-to-work programs and said, “Here's what it's worth to get a person off welfare. It costs us $18,000 or $20,000 a year to keep a mother and two children on welfare. We'll spend $4,000 a person to get a family off welfare. But they have to be off for a year. And then we'll pay you $4,000 to do it.” If you were in the private sector and you had that kind of return on your investment, you'd really like it.
What would happen? You would get programs like America Works, but you'd also get other programs. You would get all kinds of innovation in the marketplace. Maybe the woman I spoke to would, in fact, lose some of her vendors. But she would get a revitalized marketplace delivering welfare-to-work in a way that all of us would feel much more comfortable with.
I feel very strongly that we have continued to perpetuate a welfare-industrial complex that has done a very poor job of getting people from welfare to work, and keeping them in work for a long period of time. Yes, you can give them access to the marketplace, as America Works does; yes, you can support them on the job. I think that's very important. But there are lots of other ways of doing it. Mine is not the only workable approach. But the only way we're going to get new programs that work is if we begin to pay for them. Thank you very much.
DR. MEAD: Richard.
RICHARD SCHWARTZ: Okay. My question is this: What goes into running a successful welfare-to-work program? A good economy? Alan Greenspan? Well, there are a lot of elements to it, and I want to start with a question to the audience. This is an honesty test. How many people here entered the labor market and began careers in an entry-level job? I guess the answer is everybody. You didn't start as president of anything when you started your work career. And raise your hands if you started at the minimum wage or something like that? Just about everybody, except for the ten percent who - well, they're liars.
In a sense, that illustrates how to run a successful welfare-to-work program. We can't be afraid of having people enter the workforce at the entry level. What Peter called the welfare-industrial complex insisted that welfare recipients had to have jobs that paid $8.50 an hour. It was almost boilerplate -- $8.50 an hour, plus health benefits. And of course, who doesn't want that for people coming off of welfare? Maybe some people in the room here today would like that.
But it's not realistic. It's realistic for some. There are some people on welfare who are numerate and literate, some of whom have college degrees or associates degrees and they have some work history. So we’re not writing them off and saying that they're going to come in at entry level. But a lot of people, most of them I would argue, have to start at entry level.
That’s the first point. Get people into the workforce at whatever level they can enter. And if it’s entry level and there are no health-benefits, it’s acceptable. Most states offer transitional benefits like Medicare and food stamps and daycare and other kinds of supports.
The next point is that there's no magic formula for running a successful welfare-to-work program. As Peter said, there are a lot of different ways it can be done. But you have to be obsessive and you have to be flexible. Because at this point virtually every state and every city and every county in the country has a way it wants to approach the issue.
When we at Opportunity America go out and pursue contracts, we have to be realistic. There's no assembly line format for doing welfare reform at the moment. Politics vary from region to region. Government processes vary. We have to be able to be flexible. But we also have to be Type A, obsessive. We have to project that we’re really looking at the bottom line, getting people into jobs, getting them in jobs that are sustainable. Then, ultimately, to get them off the welfare rolls.
I’d like to tell you about one of our projects, which is in Westchester County, where we've been operating for about a year. We take everybody they send us, which is very important. If you're going to do this right, you have to be able to take everybody into the program. You can't cream off the best candidates. You have to be able to take anybody, within boundaries. We call then employable individuals: people who are able-bodied, people who don't have a substance abuse issue, people who don't have serious mental health problems. We will accept anyone into the program except people with those problems. We have to -- otherwise I don't know what the government is buying from us.
We've been able to generate an 87 percent placement rate and a very high retention rate in this program. Those are actually verifiable numbers. But the point is that’s the percentage we’ve placed with the broadest possible group coming through our program.
I would also say that a program has to have a beginning and an end. Part of problem with programs that don’t work is they can go for months and months. Or perhaps there's no focus on getting people a job; there's a focus just on having people attend class and hopefully finishing. In most of the programs we operate, we have about six weeks to work with the individual up front on job readiness and the job search, and then they have to find a job after the six weeks.
One way government can complement welfare-to-work efforts is to have a deadline at the end of that six weeks. They can mandate that individuals without jobs at that point get experience in the form of something like workfare. This lets the individual know that their choices are pretty much the same. Either they go out and get a job and become self-sufficient, or they stay on welfare and have to work cleaning parks for 30 hours a week. They can do either one. But no matter what, they’re going to be working for 30-35 hours a week.
We treat people in the program as if they are coming to a job. Finding a job is a fulltime job. The job they have during the six, eight or 12 weeks of the program is to find a job. They have to come in on time every day. They have to remain focused throughout the day. They have to pursue their job leads in a disciplined manner. And we keep checking on them to make sure that’s what they are doing.
This is related to another issue. A company can have the best job bank in the world but, at the end of the day, the employers are going to hire only the people that they want to hire. You can't force an employer to hire people just because they said they would be interested in participating in a program.
We have learned the most effective way to get people jobs is to put them on what is called a self-directed job search. They are the ones who are going out to get the job, whether by word of mouth or through help wanted ads. Whatever the mechanism, they're the ones who are finding the job.
Our job as managers is to make sure that they're doing it. We make sure if they're working on the phones for two hours in the morning trying to get job leads, they get the job leads. Then we make sure they go out and get those interviews and follow-up on those interviews and get the job. But it's up to them. If we get them the job it's not nearly as compelling as if they get the job for themselves.
We track, monitor and report religiously on everything that we're doing. We do reports daily and weekly for our own purposes, and monthly for the client, whatever the jurisdiction might be. But that is the only way, ultimately, that you can determine whether you are successful. Banks close the books at the end of every banking day. Following the Wal-Mart model, retail outlets all around the country know exactly what they do every day. The participants and the agencies have to track carefully what they're doing to be successful.
To follow-up on Peter's point, we have had very good experience with retention by using two approaches. One involves the model that Peter discussed, which is to follow-up with people, to follow-up with their employers, to help the situation solidify. We have also had tremendous success using follow-up training and education. But I stress that the training and education come after a person has a job, not before. Ours is a work-first model. We believe it’s absolutely critical to get people working. That's the first step. And then follow up with appropriate training and appropriate education. If somebody is on the cusp of getting a GED, agencies should do what they can to help them get it, or to get a certificate in a skill that they need to move up within the company.
We have found a tremendously high correlation between retention and training and education. We must give people the sense that they've got their job and now there is an ongoing opportunity for them to earn more as they progress in their career and improve their lives. Thank you.
Dr. MEAD: We have some time for questions.
QUESTION: I’m from the North Carolina Department of Commerce. I just wanted to pick up on Richard's last point. What's the most effective way to get someone training once they're already in a full-time job? We know, statistically, they're likely to have dependent children, and they may have transportation issues. How do you intersperse training?
Mr. SCHWARTZ: First of all, most people coming into their first job are getting part-time work. Again, that's something that is just a reality. People don't like to hear that, but that's just the reality of the job market. Then they move up to full-time. One of the areas with the most jobs is retail, and entry-level jobs in that industry are always part-time. Three to six months later, if you're doing a good job -- basically if you're showing up and being cooperative -- you're going to be able to move up into a full-time job.
Helping them means setting up all kinds of flexible arrangements. And you need government to be a very strong partner in this, to provide the childcare and the transportation so that they can attend additional training.
One form of training is classroom. We're starting to use interactive computerized training extensively. We can do that in a computer lab where there are very flexible hours. Because of the low price of computers, we're also starting to experiment with setting up computers in people's homes and giving them the interactive software and using the Internet to track what they do.
QUESTION: How do you deal with people who voluntarily quit jobs? Do you sanction them if they are still on welfare? We encounter that all the time in Virginia where I work for the Virginia Department of Social Services.
Mr. SCHWARTZ: Sanctioning is an unfortunate necessity. It's just something that you have to be able to do. Sanctioning is important so that people know that not doing what they’re suppose to has consequences. Just as there are consequences for all of us if we're not cooperative in our work environments, we don’t keep our jobs. We'll end up on unemployment and our income will be severely reduced.
Mr. COVE: We had a kind of nifty experiment at America Works. We have a program in Albany where they were sanctioning, and at the time New York City wasn't sanctioning. Counter to what one might expect, we found that the people in the Albany group had better retention rates than in New York City. The key was the fear of the sanction. So, really, it can be very useful.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask two questions. The first is for Amy. Can you identify for us any issues resulting from the cultural clash between the faith community and the government?
Second, a similar question for you two gentlemen. How big are your organizations, caseloads and budgets? And beyond the issue of, “Let me do it my way because I know better,” are there any other issues you would point out for those of us in government who try to deal with you?
Dr. SHERMAN: If I understand your question correctly, you're asking what are some of the challenges that religious groups and government face when they work together? I think among the challenges is a recognition of church-state issues. Obviously the religious organizations that take seriously their religious character are concerned that they have the opportunity to conduct their outreach with these families in a way that does not require them to put their religious faith on the shelf.
I think those issues can be dealt with along the lines of the language of the Charitable Choice provision. So I wouldn't say that I'm seeing that those are the most important challenges. The kinds of things I've heard about stem from the different subcultures and mores of people in the faith organizations and those in government agencies.
At the risk of being unfair to the government folks, the complaint I mainly hear from the faith side is we want to be able to be more flexible. We're dealing with folks who always said things had to be done a certain way. I’ve heard people complain they were not able to tailor their program to individuals instead of insisting everyone has to go through eight weeks of training and spend X number of hours in this task and Y number of hours in that task.
We have a very small modest program working with women, and I have found that my interactions with our government partner have really been very cordial. When they came to audit us, two things happened. One was that we discovered it was good to be audited. It was good to be forced to get our financial software up and running, and to make sure we had good case notes on every person we were working with. So there are some expectations of the government partner that actually strengthen the administration of the faith-based organization's program.
The second thing was that it gave me an opportunity to share thoughts with the government people. I could say, “In the proposal we said we were going to do the program this way. Well, we're making changes as we go along because we have six very different individuals, and we believe that we want to individually tailor this program so that they will have the best chance of success.” We were able to make our case as to why it was important to do things that way. Consequently, the flexibility issue was moot, because they said, “It sounds like a good idea to me. Go ahead and be flexible.”
Mr. COVE: As I said, we are in seven cities, and we will be in 11 by the end of June. Anywhere between 250 and 500 people are being placed into jobs per contract. So you can multiply that out and get an average.
Regarding the cultural question: When I was applying for a grant in the United Kingdom I saw some differences in their approach and ours. There, the government really allows the marketplace to help set the agenda for what the program will look like. It isn't just the legislature and the bureaucrats. Consequently, there are much more responsive Request for Proposals (RFPs), going out to vendors.
In the United States, we’re basically told here's the program, and God knows where the order comes from. Right now, for instance, the whole idea of collaboration is popping up like weeds. In every RFP I see the word “collaboration”. To my knowledge there is no data or research to suggest programs that collaborate are more successful. But somebody thought that collaboration would be a good idea so the government has now said this is what we're going to do. I believe it's another way of keeping the welfare-industrial complex going, because what it does is limit the marketplace. It really keeps the marketplace stagnant.
Mr. SCHWARTZ: I think that it's infinitely scalable as long as you hold to the principle that you will take any referral, anyone who doesn't have serious barriers to employment. If you're going to do that, these programs are infinitely scalable in the way we've been doing them and also in the way we've been able to use technology.
On being flexible depending on the jurisdiction: Because I used to be in government, I know about both sides of working with Peter. And he's right. But I also understand that every jurisdiction is different. They have different procedures, they have different rules and laws and procedures that they can't change.
We've responded to bids in which they've asked for X, Y and Z, and we proposed A, B and C, and they called up and said that they wanted to do what we recommended. But it's a matter of showing how your model can integrate into their political and bureaucratic environment.
QUESTION: I am at George Mason University, but I come from New Zealand. In New Zealand I had responsibility for labor market programs like we're talking about this morning.
My question is to you, Amy, and while I applaud what you're doing in cooperating with the government, you are in effect dealing with the effects of societal breakdown. I think that the church has a lot of the responsibility for that actually happening in the first place. I'd like to know when the church is going to start to address the cause.
At one time you could go to the church and you could expect to get guidance on ethics, values, morals and self-discipline. You're certainly not going to get that from government. That bulwark seems to have disappeared. When the church starts to return to that we will be able deal more successfully with some of these societal problems. How would you like to respond to that?
Dr. SHERMAN: I couldn't agree with you more. I happen to be part of a church that takes very seriously the authority of Scripture and takes very seriously the historic faith commitments of the Christian doctrine. I think you're absolutely right, and unfortunately, there are many in the religious community that have allowed those commitments to flag. Rather than being on the front lines cheering for morals and behaviors that will help people to get their lives together, they are instead on the front lines condoning, in my opinion, immoral behavior. So I can't agree with you more.
DR. MEAD: I just want to add that, as many of you know, New Zealand is a force in welfare reform and governmental reform in general. I went to a conference there a couple of years ago and after meeting those people I concluded that the government of New Zealand was under-employed. They should come to America and help us solve our problems.