This unintended result of Nebraska’s law shows how stressed and fragile many American families are.
U.S. society is NOT family-friendly. Families are fragmented, there is little outside support, and economic and health care systems don’t work well. And sometimes you are just too tired and stressed to jump through all the hoops to get help.
THe breakdown of local community social structures such as families and churches contributes to this mess. And even the local school is no longer a center of community support since students are often bused to distant schools.
I think that the best thing the government can do is to mandate and establish neighborhood family resource centers that provide:
- Free basic health care screening and services
- free or low-cost counseling and referral services
- parenting classes
- emergency respite/daycare services
- a one-stop clearinghouse for social services (food stamps, welfare, mental health services, etc)
- job training and support services
- literacy classes
- community activities
- info clearing house for community supports: churches, agencies, etc.
I see it as a combination YMCA, health clinic and social service office. Since it would be community based, it would be easily accessible. And the government could start by putting these centers in the most economically depressed cities/areas.
In our community, local churches band together to provide a social services fair twice a year. It is a one-stop shopping approach to getting basic services: food stamps and health care signups, health screenings, dental checkups, haircuts, job training signups, etc. It is very popular, and shows the need for such one-stop settings to help stressed families navigate the system and find the resources that are out there. The problem is that such an approach is piecemeal, dependant upon the private sector to organize and staff. I don’t know if it would work better to have the government doing it (probably not), but at least it might be more widely available in poor and economically depressed areas. Maybe such services could be coordinated at the city or county level.