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Economic insecurity: Local solutions that work
Eli Dile   on Tuesday, July 3, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

By Kendra Green, IEDC intern, Ohio University

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) held an event in Washington, D.C., last week highlighting locally scaled innovations addressing complex social issues found across the United States. “The Power of Local Innovation: Tackling Economic Insecurity” explored issues ranging from the opioid crisis in Ohio to the lack of childcare in Arizona. With less federal funding and more partisan bickering, communities are pioneering innovative solutions locally rather than waiting on the state or federal governments to assist.

The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio developed the Drug Abuse Response Team (DART) in 2014 to combat addiction and reduce opioid overdoses. The program aims to shift the response to drug addiction from incarceration to rehabilitation, and support comes in many forms, including helping individuals check in to rehabilitation centers and providing counselling services. DART also provides general education and recovery assistance to anyone in Lucas County dealing with addiction. DART’s success rate linking individuals to treatment in 2017 was 78 percent, and as of early 2018, it jumped to 83 percent.

Linda Smith, director of the Early Childhood Initiative at BPC, introduced strategies used in Maricopa County, Arizona, to increase access to childcare. Smith described the Greater Phoenix area as home to many “childcare deserts.” BPC used mapping tools to identify which parts of Maricopa County had the most need for child care and overlaid it with the areas that had capacity for childcare centers. Using public data sources, Maricopa County examined factors including the number of parents, single parents, dual-working families, mothers working full-time, and applied this information to general population statistics to come up with a formula to target childcare where it’s most needed. The state of Arizona is considering taking this approach statewide. 

Perhaps the biggest takeaways from the event was that data-driven evidence is essential for local innovations to have meaningful impacts. A recording of the event can be accessed through the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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