This report is the fourth installment in a five-part series devoted to sharing the Annie E. Casey Foundation's successes in utilizing social networks to improve the lives of children, families and communities. It opens with a focused discussion on the roles that social connections play in supporting both vulnerable households and family economic success. By examining efforts already underway as part of the Foundation’s seminal Making Connections initiative, experts identify three areas — asset building, jobs and the Earned Income Tax Credit — where social networking strategies hold great promise in aiding America’s distressed families.
Current strategies for serving America’s most vulnerable families aren’t working.
Findings & Stats
The Network Advantage
This report identifies eight basic ways that social networks can make a difference in the lives of families. Some of these contributions are: Facilitating the flow of information and resources, establishing norms, supplying social outlets and strengthening a participant’s sense of identify and value.
Intel for Improving Practice
For each of the report’s three focal points — asset building, employment and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — readers will learn clear strategies for utilizing social networks to better serve America’s vulnerable families. They will also encounter specific examples of these networks in action at various Making Connections sites.
Better Asset Building
Some of the ways that social networks can aid families in building assets include: creating positive peer pressure around saving, identifying local cost-cutting strategies and stepping in to lend a hand if a crisis strikes. Experts also offer three tips for utilizing these networks in future asset development efforts. One example? Intentionally integrate social network building into your program structure, they say.
Creating Career Links
Experts share three strategies for connecting individuals with employment opportunities via social networks. These are: 1) integrate networking building and utilization into job training programs; 2) aim to create networks of support that cut across class lines; and 3) bolster programming to reinforce job seeking behavior, build a sense of work ethic and provide a safe place to solve and share work-related challenges.
Tax Credit Cred
Social networks can play an important role in getting families to take full advantage of the EITC. How? For starters, say experts, word-of-mouth advertising works — and hearing about the EITC from a trusted source may spur a skeptic to file.
Statements & Quotations
All of us have, need and use social networks in our lives.
This new work of social network building…is really about intentionally reweaving the fabric of community.
The challenge is not just to connect isolated individuals to social networks but also to build social networks that are infused with positive norms and good role models.