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Advisory Council reports on families and communities.

The year-long efforts of NLC's Advisory Council and the Futures Process activities devoted to family-friendly neighborhoods concluded with the release of "Families & Communities" during the 1992 Congress of Cities in New Orleans.

Rejecting the debate over family composition, the Advisory Council report focuses on family function. By shifting from thinking about families in isolation to seeing them as part of the way communities function, the report focuses on community context for family success.

As a result, "Families and Communities" examines how families and communities depend on each other to:

* provide a healthy and secure environment * care for each generation * transmit values * meet economic needs * establish social networks

The report highlights ways cities can mobilize to strengthen families and offers suggestions to municipal officials for "next steps" toward building family-friendly communities.

Two major purposes shape the Advisory Council's 1992 futures report. They are:

* to develop pragmatic approaches that go beyond the fierce debates and ideological false choices that have dominated other discussions about this topic, and

* to focus practical discussion of the needs of families on the supporting functions of communities and local governments.

To present these analyses, the 24-page report uses specific examples from cities and towns across the country.

"Families and Communities" urges a shift in strategic perspective from the "deficit model" (that narrowly focuses on services and family failures) to a "capacity model" that sees families in their community contexts and builds supportive systems that make family success more likely. The report places less emphasis on crisis-oriented social services and more emphasis on re-aligning regular municipal functions, as needed, to be more supportive of families. The policy agenda for state and federal roles must be developed around local realities.

During the Advisory Council's meeting at COC, Chair Lottie Shackelford of Little Rock, Arkansas acknowledged the collaborative efforts that "makes this report one that truly fits in with the whole theme of what NLC is doing..." Shackelford viewed the report as "a truly visionary document for where we will see cities go, particularly as they work in the area of trying to strengthen families."

NLC President Don Fraser, Mayor of Minneapolis, in addressing the group, stated that "the [report's] emphasis on building community .... the emphasis on working on the Positive side .... the emphasis on making connections in neighborhoods .... all fit with my own impression about what we need to be thinking about as city officials."

Copies of the 1992 Futures Report, Families and Communities" can be obtained by contacting the NLC Publications Office. You can write to: National League of Cities, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004; or call (202) 626-3150.
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities Advisory Council
Author:Cheek, Dorothy
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 14, 1992
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