Making a Difference in Your Neighborhood: Using Community Decision-Making to Improve the Lives of Children, Youth and Families

Author +
The Center for the Study of Social Policy

Year: 2011

Across the country, communities are working towards a common vision: to ensure that neighborhoods become places where all families thrive and have access to the supports, services and opportunities they need to ensure their children succeed. Whether inspired by events happening in your local community or catalyzed by an opportunity provided through a foundation or government supported initiative, communities like yours are working to change the future for children and families by investing in neighborhoods. In supporting these efforts of communities to transform their neighborhoods, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) has found community decision-making to be a powerful engine for change.

This handbook provides you with information and tools that can help you drive the changes necessary to improve the well-being of the children and families where you live. Each chapter will explore the critical capacities needed to help communities establish a decision-making process. This guide includes useful definitions, advice, examples and case studies to help you along this path. At the end of each chapter is a self-assessment tool (Where are We Now) that will help you and your community partners assess your understanding of and progress towards implementing the key concepts in each chapter. Finally, in the Appendix, you will find more detailed tools, worksheets and samples to help your community be successful.

Download the handbook


  • Introduction
  • Developing a Results Agenda
  • Creating Accountable Partnerships
  • Using Data to Achieve Results
  • Developing Your Action Plan
  • Focusing on Sustainability
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • Resource List