women sitting on a bench

Purpose of the Initiative

A strong safety net benefits everyone, and Montgomery County’s safety net will thrive through a shared commitment to nourish and sustain it.

The Montgomery County safety net system provides vital support to our community. It catches people when an unexpected crisis hits- like a sudden illness or job loss. It provides necessary services during vulnerable times in our families' lives, from early childhood through retirement. The safety net provides valuable resources that give all people the opportunity to thrive in a society that often predetermines opportunity based on zip code, race, gender, or social strata.

Yet, as vital as it is to our community’s health and well-being, the Montgomery County safety net system is fragile:

  • Safety net providers are faced with insufficient funding, burdensome regulations, lackluster technology solutions, and overworked staff.
  • Public and private support is shifting away from safety net services, and the margins nonprofits operate on are becoming even thinner as a result.
  • As the county's demographics shift, safety net providers are challenged to serve an increasingly diverse population.
  • Stigma of using safety net services often prevents people from reaching out for help before issues have reached a crisis level, making services more expensive to deliver.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the resulting economic recession, and country's heightened awareness of racial discrimination have only increased the urgency with which these systemic issues must be addressed. Our communities are at a crossroads, where the safety net system is tasked with greater responsibility than ever before, without the resources it needs to meet these challenges.

These challenges led us to create the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative in 2017, and to again refresh our vision, define a set of shared principles, and craft a Blueprint for rebuilding in 2020. This 10-year effort aims to improve the foundation of the Montgomery County safety net system so that it can remain financially sustainable and resilient, while also doing a better job of meeting the needs of all of our residents. The effort is community driven, where our success depends on each of us to fundamentally shift how we work together.

To read the Blueprint, click here or download the PDF below.

Cracks in the Safety Net System

A 2017 report of the financial health of nonprofits showed that 40% of the region's nonprofits operate with zero or negative operating margins, and 13% of human services nonprofits are technically insolvent. The financial instability of our safety net system highlights the necessity of our work to build a more resilient, well-resourced, and efficient system. Read the full report here.

A National Imperative

A groundbreaking report from leaders in philanthropy warns that both people who use safety net services and our communities at large will face huge risks if the safety net system is not financially strong. "The consequences range from negative health and behavioral outcomes to elevated health and criminal justice and corrections system expenses," the authors explain. Read the report here.