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Heartland Alliance National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity;
Implementing the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model boosts employment outcomes for transition-age youth facing barriers to employment. LifeWorks, a non-profit organization serving transition-age youth and their families in Austin, TX, realized that workforce models popular within the youth development field may not address the significant and complex challenges faced by their participants. LifeWorks staff began to look toward behavioral health approaches to employment and discovered the Individual Placement & Support model. This case study discusses how IPS offered LifeWorks a new approach to workforce support for youth that might better address the types of challenges their participants faced.
Immigration Policy Center;
In February 2008, Austin Police Department (APD) officers pulled over a car on a routine traffic stop. In the car were a Central American couple and their three-year-old U.S.-citizen son. The officers arrested Sylvia and Ernesto due to outstanding traffic tickets, and later charged them with tampering with government records after finding the couple's false Social Security cards used to gain employment. Sylvia and Ernesto were booked into the Travis County Jail, while their son Luis was temporarily placed into Child Protective Services (CPS), to be reunited with his parents once they were released from jail. However, this reunion was not to occur on American soil. Through an initiative called the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), local law enforcement agencies collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify deportable non-citizens in county jails across the county. In Austin, Texas, the seat of Travis County, the Sheriff's Office supplies ICE with a list of foreign-born arrestees and grants ICE unlimited access to the jail to interview inmates. For individuals like Sylvia and Ernesto, who are undocumented, or for legal immigrants who are still vulnerable to deportation for crimes as minor as shoplifting, an arrest can lead to deportation. Because ICE was able to take custody of them, Sylvia and Ernesto were not released into the community to be with their young son. Instead, they were held in ICE detention while deportation proceedings commenced against them. Meanwhile, CPS transferred Luis to foster care, as no relatives could be immediately found to claim him. Luis's parents were ultimately both deported to Central America, and Luis lingered in foster care for a week until a relative was found. Unfortunately, this is no isolated incident. In 2008, the University of Texas School of Law's Children's Rights Clinic saw another similar case, and in April 2009, The New York Times reported that an undocumented woman's child was placed for adoption when the court deemed she "abandoned" her son after being jailed subsequent to an immigration workplace raid. ICE and local law enforcement officials claim that CAP targets the worst criminal offenders -- those dangerous individuals who make our communities less safe. The Chief Deputy of the Travis Country Sheriff's Office (TCSO) has said, "We know for a fact that we are only getting the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. These guys are really the undesirables. Most people wouldn't want them getting out of jail and being their neighbor. They'd like to see them deported out of the country." However, stories like those of Sylvia and Ernesto, and those of many others whose families are torn apart because of traffic arrests or misdemeanor offenses, show that many of the people impacted are far from being at "the bottom of the barrel." Not only are these individuals facing deportation and separation from their families, but CAP has also negatively impacted entire communities. There have also been allegations of law-enforcement agencies engaging in racial profiling and pretextual arrests in order to get suspected deportable immigrants into the jail so they can be identified by ICE. CAP can also affect a town's reputation, economy, and school system. Achieving the opposite of its mandate, CAP in fact decreases public safety when immigrant victims and witnesses fear contacting police due to law enforcement's collaboration with immigration authorities, creating a sphere for criminals to operate with impunity. This paper provides a brief history and background on the CAP program. It also includes a case study of CAP implementation in Travis County, Texas, which finds that the program has a negative impact on communities because it increases the community's fear of reporting crime to police, is costly, and may encourage racial profiling.
Committee for Economic Development;
The example of how the Austin (TX) Chamber of Commerce has worked over several years with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) to plan and implement a new strategic compensation plan demonstrates how collaboration can help the two sectors better understand each other and work together to develop an important new policy initiative and build public support for it. It illustrates how a community of concerned stakeholders can work together to accomplish the common goal of ensuring that all AISD's students are successful.
Cultural Policy Center at The University of Chicago;
This case was prepared for a class discussion rather than to demonstrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation, and is based on seven interviews with staff, board members, and community leaders involved with the Long Center for the Performing Arts project as well as internal documents and the public record. The authors would like to thank all of the people who graciously agreed to be interviewed.
The Laura and John Arnold Foundation;
The increase in Austin's pension debt over the last decade is due in part to the fact that as the population grew, demand for public services increased and the city added more than 1,000 public employees between 2010 and 2015. As the cost of providing benefits rose, the city failed to keep up with contributions to the system—skipping nearly $170 million in payments to the Employees' Retirement Plan, which is the city's largest retirement plan, over eight years. At the same time, it suffered a series of investment shortfalls system wide, which compounded the effect of the missed contributions and led to a widening gap between assets and liabilities.Despite the fact that the city is paying more and more into the plans each year, unfunded liabilities are continuing to rise. In fact, Austin spends more than half of its pension payments on debt—rather than benefits for public workers. Yet even these payments might not be sufficient to pay off the unfunded liabilities, and if the city earns less than expected on its investments, debt will rapidly rise.The brief explains that the city must take immediate steps to pay down the unfunded liabilities in order to improve the stability of its pension plans. Local leaders in Austin should take note of the pension crisis that is unfolding in Dallas. Two years ago, Dallas' pension system was in a similar position to the one that Austin is currently in. However, Dallas' pension debt doubled to $4 billion and its funded ratio plummeted to 56 percent after the plan administrators made a series of reckless decisions that have pushed the city's largest plan, the police and fire fund, to the brink of bankruptcy.The situation in Dallas should provide a cautionary example of how quickly debt can spiral out of control. In the brief, McGee and Diaz Aguirre call on Austin's leaders to make the changes necessary to ensure that the city is able to uphold its retirement promises to public workers. The authors present a number of recommendations that would help stabilize the system and address the plan's underlying structural flaws, including:Making adequate funding non-negotiable and committing to pay down current unfunded liabilities in 30 years or less.Establishing prudent and realistic funding and investment policies.Establishing local control of the pension fund in order to improve oversight and accountability.Consider enrolling new workers in plans that are simpler and easier to manage, like Defined Contribution or Cash Balance plans.
Center for Policing Equity;
This brief is a partnership between Urban and the Center for Policing Equity's National Justice Database, in collaboration with the White House's Police Data Initiative. The brief analyzes publicly available data in 2015 vehicle stops and 2014 use of force incidents on the part of the Austin Police Department. Findings indicate that even when controlling for neighborhood levels of crime, education, homeownership, income, youth, and unemployment, racial disparities still exist in both use and severity of force. We also document that APD has a high level of transparency, and the analysis demonstrates the value of that democratization of police department data in examining whether community-level explanations are sufficient to explain observed racial disparities.
Presents findings from a 2002 Urban Institute survey of Austin residents' perceptions of and attitudes toward the performing arts.
Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University;
Presents a case study of community organizing for school reform by Austin Interfaith: how its "alliance schools" network and parent and community engagement shaped leadership development, district-level policy, school-level capacity, and student outcomes.
Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design;
Ewing This study builds upon a successful pilot program of Partners for Sacred Places that facilitates long-term, mutually beneficial space-sharing relationships between arts organizations -- with inadequate or no home space -- and houses of worship with space to share. The findings of this study demonstrate a range of issues, challenges, and opportunities facing performing artists and clearly establish that these artists:overwhelmingly see a need for more performance, rehearsal, and administrative spaces;see a home space as critical to artistic development and community engagement; andfeel that a historic sacred space could enhance the experience of their work.This research confirms that many sacred spaces face diminished membership, limited resources to support and maintain their facilities, and a desire to provide value as a community resource and asset, but lack the resources to create these links. The findings from each city establish a significant amount of available space, the desire of sacred spaces to serve as a broader community asset, and their minimal concerns about artistic content and control. This report and its findings could have implications for artists, sacred spaces, and the funding community not only in the three cities studied, but also throughout the country.
Rutgers Climate Institute;
For more than a decade, states and cities across the country have served a leadership role in advancing science-informed climate policy through city, state and multi-state efforts. The rapid pace by which state climate policy is emerging is evidenced by the number of new laws, directives and policies adopted in 2018 and the first half of 2019 alone. Currently, there is an active ongoing dialogue across the U.S. regarding the intersection of climate and equity objectives with efforts targeted at addressing needs of disadvantaged communities and consumers. This climate/equity intersection is due to several factors, including recognition by many cities and states that climate change is and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations and will exacerbate existing stressors faced by disadvantaged communities and consumers. Research indicates that a greater proportion of environmental burden exists in geographic areas with majority populations of people of color, low-income residents, and/or indigenous people. It is well known that certain households (including some that are low-income, African American, Latino, multi-family and rural) spend a larger portion on their income on home energy costs. States and stakeholders are realizing that a transition to a low-carbon future by mid-century will require significantly increased participation of disadvantaged communities and households in the benefits of climate and clean energy programs.
Annie E. Casey Foundation;
This report tells how four tax-preparation programs are breaking the mold and tackling the world of health care enrollment. Readers will learn the challenges and opportunities associated with such a move, which has the potential to help millions of low-income Americans take a critical first step toward a healthier future.
Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boston;
This paper presents results of a three-year study of workers and former workers at four Alternative Staffing Organizations (ASOs). ASOs are fee-for-service job brokering businesses created by community-based organizations and national nonprofits whose objective is to gain access to temporary and "temp to permanent" opportunities for workers facing barriers to employment. The paper looks specifically at the relationship between the personal characteristics of workers, their temporary work experiences through the ASO, and the subsequent employment status of former ASO workers, determined through a follow-up survey conducted by telephone six to eight months after workers had left theASO. We found several factors influenced employment status at the time of follow-up. Workers with jobs at follow-up had worked substantially more weeks through the ASO, had higher earnings than other study participants, had received some additional services at the ASO, and, in some cases, had held ASO assignments at the ASO's parent organization.However, workers without a valid driver's license, those with children and those who were receiving public assistance had more trouble finding a job after their time at the ASO.This paper demonstrates how the complex relationships between individual worker characteristics and experience with an ASO affect future job prospects.