The Leading Social Indicators (LSI) project began with a public forum on the Leading Social Indicators in Nevada that took place on November 5, 2004, at the William S. Boyd School of Law as part of the CDC Justice & Democracy forum series. The forum participants surveyed about a dozen major areas affecting the quality of life in Nevada, identified the most urgent problems, and agreed to work on a comprehensive LSI report for the Silver State. To fulfill this agenda, the CDC assembled a team that included the University of Nevada faculty, Clark County professionals, and Nevada administrators. The team members reached beyond institutional divides to gather up-to-date information that produced the Social Health of Nevada report.

A preliminary draft of the SHN report was unveiled at the Justice & Democracy forum held at the Boyd School of Law on November 15, 2005. Governor Kenny Guinn gave keynote address on the Social Health of Nevada in which he urged the scholars, administrators, and community practitioners who compiled the report to turn it into an annual exercise. “The Social Health of Nevada report, the first of its kind in our state,” Governor Guinn observed, “will allow those in elected offices to better prioritize and budget in areas such as health and human services, education and the environment.” “I applaud your dedication,” Governor commended the CDC team, “and your spirit of cooperation in making difference in the lives of so many and . . . bring[ing] a new quality of life to less fortunate than we are.” Governor Guinn's Address is posted on the CDC web site.

The SHN project differs in several ways from similar undertakings, in that it strives to do more than summarize the relevant findings and make them available to the community. The document encompasses indexing, social reporting, community needs assessment, and policy option analysis. The SHN report (a) places our state’s performance in the national and international context; (b) provides a historical overview of the current trends; (c) compares Nevada’s performance with that of the other states and regions; (d) supplies an in-depth analysis of the existing patterns; (e) offers practical suggestions to community members with specific problems; (f) assesses the data collection needs; (g) gives the latest legislative updates; and (h) formulates recommendations for policy makers and administrators. The Social Health of Nevada report also contains sections that reflect Nevada’s status as a state with legalized gambling, as well as the only state in the nation with legalized prostitution. Chapters devoted to “Problem Gambling and Treatment” and “Sex Industry and Sex Workers” in Nevada cover these specialized areas.

The Social Health of Nevada (SHN) report currently includes 29 chapters that highlight key areas affecting quality of life in our state – environment, education, poverty, economy, delinquency, housing, disabilities, aging, suicide, infant mortality, child abuse, teen sexuality, labor relations, health access, disease prevalence, problem gambling, sex industry, immigration and ethnic minorities. The SHN project is a work in progress. Efforts to augment the report and disseminate its findings will continue. Our hope is that this endeavor will not end up as yet another academic exercise. With this goal in mind, we have created the Nevada Partnership for Social Health that is cosponsored by the UNLV Center for Democratic Culture, UNLV School of Public Health, and UNR College of Community and Human Sciences. The coalition is designed to pull together the resources of local businesses, university community, and the state administration with the purpose of advancing the cause of public health in Nevada.

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