Prepare Community Prevention or Promotion Program Proposal

The study targets a community in the rural area within the United States. The main problem that this population faces is poor transport system that impedes their ability to access government-sponsored welfare programs. According to Burholt and Scharf (2014), the United States has one of the best transport systems within major cities such as New York and Los Angeles. However, the intercity and inter-state transport systems are relatively poor. People living in the rural areas find it difficult to access reliable public transport system. Most of them have to rely on their means of transport to move from one area to the other. However, many impoverished families may not have access to personal means of transport. Ogden, Carroll, Kit, and Flegal (2014) say that most of these welfare programs such as Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for the Needy (TANF), and MEDICAID target such people who are financially challenged. The national and state governments spend a lot of resources to sponsor such programs (Ogden et al., 2014). However, it is unfortunate that poor means of transport hinders the targeted population from receiving the benefits. It means that the living standards of the group cannot be improved as intended by these welfare programs. The community is still plagued with diseases, high crime rates, limited education, low income, homelessness, and inability to access basic socio-economic amenities at a time when the country is spending billions of dollars as a relief to other countries.

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Giljum, Dittrich, Lieber, and Lutter (2014) say that it appears the population is completely forgotten. The diversity of these people, mainly manifested by ethnic enclaves of African Americans and Hispanics from Latin America, has complicated the problem further. The diversity has a negative impact on the community because they are unable to speak with one voice. Each group of people views the other with mistrust because of the common stereotypes in the country and many other reasons (Berdegué, Carriazo, Jara, Modrego, & Soloaga, 2015). This means they cannot collectively bargain for a better redistribution of public resources such as improved roads. The high population of illegal immigrants has also facilitated the silence with which the community faces their suffering in the country. Many fear that they or their loved ones may be deported if the illegal status of their residence in the country is discovered (Ogden et al., 2014). As such, they prefer maintaining a low profile and very limited engagement with government officials. They would rather use the dilapidated roads than call on the government to improve the transport networks in the region because they do not want to attract the attention of the government for fear of blowing their cover. The program seeks to address the problem of poor access to welfare programs that these people face because of the inadequate transport system.

Comprehensive Background of the History of the Program

The United States’ government, through the Department of Transport, spends billions of dollars every year on programs meant to improve road and rail networks in the country. The states and counties also have their local programs meant to improve the state of roads and make their community more accessible. A report by Giljum et al. (2014) shows that the country has registered consistent improvement in the state of road and rail network over the past five decades. However, the true capitalistic nature of the American society is manifested in the usability of these public goods. The government has no programs that fund or subsidize services in the transport sector. In areas where road networks have been improved, people have to use their cars or pay for the public transport system. In remote rural areas that are not served by the public transport system, people have to use their personal means to reach their destinations.

According to Burholt and Scharf (2014), in the sparsely populated rural areas, most of the welfare programs are available at specific administrative centers believed to be centrally located in these communities. Some of these administrative centers are several miles away from where those who need the services live. It may not be easy to believe that in such a country of abundance some people still live in absolute poverty, but that is the truth. The proposed program, although it might exist in the country through various public-private partnership initiatives, is relatively new. The national and state governments have not come up with comprehensive programs meant to facilitate movements of the targeted population from where they live, to the administrative centers where they can access these services. There is yet to be a comprehensive program that can facilitate improved access to these welfare programs through provisions of means of transport. It is going to be a unique program meant to improve the standards of living among the targeted people (Burholt & Scharf, 2014).

How a Sense of Community Might Promote a Solution

The targeted community is mostly the Hispanics, with a significant population of African Americans. Most of them are Catholics, although other Christian denominations also exist. The fact that the majority of members of the group share a common faith may create the impression that there are unity and a sense of community among them (Berdegué et al., 2015). However, that is not the case. The society is affected by high levels of mistrust and constant suspicion even among members of the same race. People in the area are closely guarded, keen not to share much about their past for fear that their illegal residency status in the country may be revealed. Others feel that some of their immediate members may report them to the authorities. For those who are in the country legally- and they are the majority- they have reasons to maintain a low profile and limit unnecessary interactions with other members of the community. Some are engaged in illegal trade such as the sale of drugs or other contraband goods. Others are living with close friends or family members who are in the country illegally. Another group is in constant fear of their neighbors and feels that letting them into their family may be dangerous. The high rate of crime in the neighborhood has facilitated the mistrust, fear, and lack of a sense of community among these people. Berdegué et al. (2015) note that in such settings, people’s understanding, perception, feelings, and attitude towards the group are distorted.

According to Burholt and Scharf (2014), having a sense of community can promote a solution to the current problem. A sense of community has four elements (membership, influence, integration, and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connections) which are lacking in this neighborhood. Many people lack a sense of belonging and membership to this society. They feel that they are foreigners with limited rights and privileges in the country. According to Roberts, Cohn, Bonner, and Hargreaves (2016), government-sponsored welfare programs have been very beneficial to the poor living in major urban centers, but not those in remote rural settings. When initiating these programs, the primary goal was to eradicate crime, the spread of manageable diseases, illiteracy, and many other socio-economic evils. By having a sense of community, it is possible to overcome some of the current challenges and devise a solution that can improve living standards of these people. The following are some of the ways through which elements of a sense of community can be used to promote a solution to the problem:

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Membership

Having a sense of membership creates a sense of responsibility among people. They are reminded that they common systems and structures within their locality and as such, they need to develop a sense of belonging. This element will help break the psychological barrier that limits regular engagement among members of this community. They will embrace the need to form a united front when tackling communal challenges such as poor transport systems.

Influence

Members of this society must appreciate that they can influence and be influenced by other members. Berdegué et al. (2015) say that a sense of community is created when people feel that they have a responsibility to shape public opinion through public discourses so that they can play a role in addressing social problems. Members of this community must feel that they can influence systems within the country to address the current problem.

Integration and Fulfilled Needs

The element requires that members should feel rewarded by the positive outcome of their participation in the community. In some cases, their effort may fail to yield the desired outcome. They should not despair. However, whenever they succeed in championing for change, they need to consider it a reward and drive from it further motivation to participate more in such public discourses.

Shared Emotional Connection

Members if this community should have shared an emotional connection. The current fear, mistrust, and misconceptions that they have towards one another should be eliminated. They should start focusing on common socio-economic and political commonalities instead of basing their lives on divisive factors. They will learn how to collectively bargain with the government for the improved transport system in the community.

The Role of Diversity in This Issue

According to Burholt and Scharf (2014), diversity is often considered a factor that promotes socio-economic and political development. Weaknesses of one group can be addressed by strengths of the other group within the society. That would be the ideal situation, but most often it is not the case. Diversity has often been the basis of divisions and disintegration in the society instead of being a uniting force (Roberts et al., 2016). In this community, the Hispanics are the majority. The African Americans form a significant minority group. Christianity is the main religion, though the faith is also diversified. One of the main problems with the diversity in this community is stereotyping. The Latinos are viewed as ill-tempered lazy individuals who should be avoided as much as possible. The African Americans are viewed as drug addicts, dealers in contraband goods, and uneducated individuals who do not hesitate to use physical force whenever they feel offended.

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It is important to note that such stereotypes are mostly anecdotal. They limit the trust needed to have a united society. Ogden et al. (2014) say that in many American communities, diversity has played a negative role in achieving socio-economic and political development despite its silent benefits to the society. People spend a lot of time emphasizing the difference and the need to be seen as superior to others instead of focusing on common problems and how to unite to find a solution. The same problem affects this community. Sometimes people fail to reason based on facts and prefer basing their arguments along racial or religious lines. Achieving a communal success in such an environment is almost impossible. Therefore, it will be essential to ensure that the program also focuses on promoting integration among the members of this community. They need to appreciate their diversity and use it to address common challenges they face.

Description of the Program to Be Implemented

The primary goal of this program is to facilitate movement of members of this community from their places of residence to administrative centers where welfare services are offered. The government spends a lot of resources to sponsor these services and failure of these people to use them because of accessibility issues is a loss not just to the individuals but the taxpayers as well. The living standards of these people can be improved significantly if they can have regular access to these services. The most essential step is to make the services available, and so far the government has done a lot to ensure that this goal is achieved (Roberts et al., 2016). The other important step, which is the focus of the program, is to ensure that people access these services through the facilitation of their movement to the administrative centers. The implementing the program, the team members involved will also focus on empowering the targeted population. They need to be sensitized so that they can understand the importance of getting these services on a regular basis.

The Four-Step Evaluation Model

When implementing this model, it will be critical to evaluate performance at every stage. It is necessary to use a four-step evaluation model to determine if important milestones are achieved as expected.

Step 1. The step involves the identifying goals for the program. The program should facilitate improved movement of people to the centers where services are offered. It seeks to develop a sustainable model of public transport for the low-income people and the elderly living in the rural communities. The outcome would be measured by determining the percentage change in accessibility of the welfare services among the target group.

Step 2. Process evaluation is the second step. The team should regularly evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of the program in meeting the goals for which it is meant. During the evaluation stage, Roberts et al. (2016) argue that changes may be made in line with identified areas of weaknesses or changes in the environment. The primary focus of the evaluation process is to align the activities undertaken with the needs. The information for the evaluation should be gathered through a survey as soon as the program is initiated because it is a continuous process.

Step 3. Outcome evaluation involves determining the actual impact of the program on the community. The primary outcome is to facilitate movements of people to administrative centers so that they can access welfare programs. To assess this outcome, surveys and official data from these government institutions will be obtained to establish how the program has facilitated an increase in the number of people covered (Burholt & Scharf, 2014).

Step 4. Impact evaluation is the last stage of the evaluation using this model. It will also be necessary to evaluate the living standards of the targeted group as the program is expected to make life better for them (Roberts et al., 2016). The team will need to determine if lives of the targeted population are improved. The researcher foresees the desired impact of the program to be improved socio-economic welfare of the targeted community. The impact will be measured by determining the percentage change in the number of those who do not have access to basic social needs.

The Empowerment Evaluation Principles

When implementing this program, it will be important to involve members of the targeted society. The researcher intends to use empowerment evaluation principles to achieve that goal. Burholt and Scharf (2014) say that empowerment evaluation entails involving communities in monitoring their own performance when implementing a program. It enhances the ability to achieve success in the program because of the personal commitment expected from the members. The following principles will guide the process:

Improvement

It will be necessary to empower the community so that they can understand the need to have access to the government-sponsored welfare services that can help improve their living standards. Having an effective model of public transport is not enough if the targeted individuals do not appreciate the relevance of these services. When they are empowered, they will use the program and success rates will be high.

Community ownership

The community within which the program is implemented must have a sense of ownership towards the planned activities. They should not view the program as one initiated by outsiders for reasons they do not understand. As explained in the section above, some of these people are illegal immigrants who fear deportation. If they fail to own the program, they avoid the services for fear of being targeted. When that happens, the primary goal of transporting them to the administrative centers will be defeated.

Inclusion

This program should provide a perfect platform where members are made to appreciate their diversity. Every member of the community, including those who may not directly benefit from the program, should be encouraged to participate in various ways. The inclusivity approach will help dispel fear and mistrust that members might have towards the program or other members of the society.

Democratic participation

The program implementation should promote open discussions and democratic decision making. When leading the group, it will be necessary to ensure that decisions of the participants are considered. Whenever one comes up with an idea on how to improve the system, a healthy debate should be created so that the idea can be discussed and the ability to its implementation determined. Roberts et al. (2016) advises that in such settings, the leader should avoid making critical decisions without engaging members who will be affected.

Social justice

The program is intended to address social injustices in the society relating to the distribution of public resources. The government, using taxpayers’ money, has made available various welfare services for the low-income earners and the elderly in the society. However, some of the rural dwellers are so impoverished that they cannot afford to travel to get these services. Through this program, their plight will be addressed. They will get the facilitation they need to benefit from the welfare programs. Their standard of living is expected to improve.

Community knowledge

The program must value community knowledge for it to achieve the desired success. The individuals who will be involved in the implementation process must start by admitting that some members of the group do not understand the existence of these welfare programs and their significance in their socio-economic life. They need to be informed about these programs, where they are offered, how one qualifies for the services, and their relevance. The assumption should be that the community has limited knowledge and will need some form of public education before they can consider using the services offered under the program.

Evidence-based strategies

When implementing the program, it is expected that the team will rely on scholarly sources of information to guide various activities. These evidence-based sources are important in informing the activities of the team. However, it is imperative to ensure that community knowledge is not ignored. The program will be implemented within the area, and as such, the team must start by gathering relevant knowledge about it (Berdegué et al., 2015). Information about the fears of the individual members of the society, level of education, immigration status, nature of employment, and living standards among others are essential information that the team must have (Roberts et al., 2016). Using evidence-based knowledge, they will know how to handle various issues that may arise in the project based on the identified characteristics of the community.

Capacity building

When implementing this program, one of the critical goals would be capacity building among the targeted people. The team that will be invited to facilitate the program may not be in the neighborhood forever. However, the program should continue even in their absence. The community should be empowered so that they can take full control of all the activities of the program even in the absence of external support. They need to know how to work as a team, solicit aid from various agencies and among themselves, and coordinate all the activities to ensure that the programs run seamlessly.

Organizational learning

When implementing this program, the team will need to promote continual learning. It is okay for these people to get government-sponsored welfare services. However, that does not stop them from empowering themselves and reducing their reliance on government support, especially among the younger population. As they learn more about these services and this program, they also need to know that they can empower themselves and lead lives with minimal public financial support. For those whose age limits their ability to be financially independent, they need to learn to be responsible when getting these government-funded benefits.

Accountability

Finally, it will be important to ensure that accountability is maintained throughout the implementation process. The program has a clear set of goals that should be achieved within a specified period. The program also has resources that should be used to achieve the set goals. The team should be accountable. First, the team must use the assigned resources responsibly and for the intended purposes. Second, there should be a commitment among the members to ensure that the program is completed as per the plan. The set goals should be realized, and if that was not possible, a clear justification should be provided.

Application of the Relevant Approaches to Community and Social Change

The team will need to apply various approaches to community and social change that enhance the ability to achieve success in this program. Awareness creation (raising consciousness) is one of the important approaches to community and social change that should be embraced. The community’s level of awareness about the existence and goals of the program should be raised. Social action is another crucial approach that should be embraced. When using this approach, the team will identify obstacles to the empowerment of the community. Issues such as stereotypes, mistrust, and constant fear were already identified as some of the major obstacles that may affect the implementation of the program. They need to be addressed. Community development will have to be embraced in this program. It was explained that the current sponsors and volunteers in this program might not offer their support for long. Local institutions need to be strengthened so that they can support the program when it is left in control of the society.

Community coalitions will be used in this program to help promote cohesion and integration. The diversity should be the community’s strength instead of being a divisive force. Organizational consultation is another approach that should not be ignored. When developing policies, practices, and structures, the locals should be consulted as much as possible. Their input is critical in enhancing the success of the program. Creating alternative settings will be critical when undertaking this program. It is possible that the initial method of implementation may be less popular among the locals. Having alternatives will make it possible to switch to more popular methods. Policy research and advocacy should also be valued. The program should promote continuous research to help in new policy formulations and advocacy programs.

References

Berdegué, J., Carriazo, F., Jara, B., Modrego, J., & Soloaga, I. (2015). Cities, territories, and inclusive growth: Unraveling urban–rural linkages in Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. World Development, 73(1), 56-71.

Burholt, V., & Scharf, T. (2014). Poor health and loneliness in later life: The role of depressive symptoms, social resources, and rural environments. The Journals of Gerontology, 69(2), 311–324.

Giljum, S, Dittrich, M., Lieber, M., & Lutter, S. (2014). Global patterns of material flows and their socio-economic and environmental implications: An mfa study on all countries world-wide from 1980 to 2009. Resources, 2(1), 319-339.

Ogden, C., Carroll, M., Kit, B., & Flegal, K. (2014). Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. JAMA, 311(8), 806-814.

Roberts, T., Cohn, J., Bonner, K., & Hargreaves, S. (2016). Scale-up of routine viral load testing in resource-poor settings: Current and future implementation challenges. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 62(8), 1043–1048.

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