By Reuben D. Rotman
As the still burgeoning Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies approaches its second anniversary, close to 400 professionals, lay leaders, advocates, corporate partners, philanthropists and Jewish Federation partners will gather in Atlanta for the Network’s second annual conference. Adopting the theme, ACHIEVE! Excellence in Person Centered Care, the Conference serves not only to connect the leadership of our sector and to expose them to best practices but to support them in efforts to innovate and find new opportunities to address global challenges impacting our social service sector.
With attendees from throughout the US, Canada, Israel, Argentina and Australia, the Network’s gathering in Atlanta puts the spotlight on struggles affecting individuals and families everywhere. Conference goers have the challenge of selecting between 34 breakout sessions addressing management and leadership, organizational capacity building and program development and best practices. Together, all conference attendees will gather for timely sessions addressing Crisis Response and Anti-Semitism, while also participating in an innovation lab experience focusing on the complex dynamics associated with Jewish Poverty.
The lessons from our time together in Atlanta will undoubtedly reinforce the central role which the Jewish human service sector plays on the local, national and international fronts. While greater social understanding has helped us to understand the need to support those struggling with mental illness or individuals living with disabilities, much more is needed to ensure that governments and human service agencies are well equipped to respond with professionalism, compassion and impactful services.
The challenge of delivering human services, while ensuring a person-centered approach, can be daunting. Government regulations, combined with the appropriately individual nature of each person served, the likes and dislikes of each person, make developing and administering person-centered services complex. Putting the person first, before regulation, allows for their input to factor into the design and implementation of services. Likewise, engaging with funders in program design, informed by user input, helps to strengthen the likelihood of achieving successful outcomes.
The Network has been fortunate as it continues to grow its membership, to count among its members a wide and diverse range of Jewish human service agencies. As front-line providers of mental health services, workforce development services and specialized services supporting the needs of persons with disabilities, Holocaust survivors, caregivers, those struggling with food insecurity and those living with isolation and loneliness, the agencies in our Network see first hand the frailties of living in today’s world.
As Jewish human service providers, we understand the value and strength that comes with feeling connected to the Jewish community and supported by the Jewish community during times of need. As providers of excellence, we are often asked to partner with government, universities, foundations or corporations to advance their efforts to support their social agenda. We recognize that together we are stronger and have greater capacity to find the person-centered solutions so desperately needed today.
Reuben D. Rotman is the founding CEO the Network for Jewish Human Service Agencies (NJHSA), an international membership association founded in May 2017 when the Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies (AJFCA) and the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services (IAJVS) joined forces. NJHSA’s second annual conference is being held in Atlanta, this week, March 31 to April 2, 2019.