William Raspberry's article " 'What It Takes to Deliver Social Services" {op-ed, Jan. 30} suggests that social problems of the poor may be more effectively addressed by local neighborhood and community groups than by "parachuting in the experts." There are a couple of difficulties with this proposition.

One is that some "communities" are so thoroughly distressed that there are too few people left in them who have the tangible and psychological resources to become problem-solvers for others. Help must first come from outside. But as that help is delivered, emphasis should be placed on the responsibility of the help-receiver to become a positive force in his or her community.

But in any type of community, there is the fact that we are still living out the legacy of the '60s, when tolerance for "alternative lifestyles" became the norm; now in the '90s, we are afraid to pass any judgments on our neighbors' behavior.

In part, this attitude reflects the fact that we no longer even know our neighbors, so we have no foothold from which to intercede and assist in their personal troubles before they become a menace to themselves, their families and us. Government and private agencies make it difficult for concerned persons to contribute, except in complete anonymity, in the interest of protecting the privacy of their clients. Thus, there results a distant and artificial connection between help-givers and help-receivers even within one community.

Besides the issue of personal choice and personal privacy, there is also the matter of "expertise." Since the social sciences have become more academically specialized, "lay" persons have come to believe they lack the ability to help their troubled neighbors and feel they should leave it to the professionals.

Before neighborhoods and communities can become effective in helping their own members, all of us must be willing to acknowledge that our neighbors' behavior is our business, and that our own actions are our neighbors' concern. ELIZABETH A. FIXSEN Savage, Md.

Neither Mr. Raspberry nor the monograph by the Education and Human Services Consortium -- "What It Takes: Structuring Interagency Partnerships to Connect Children and Families With Comprehensive Services" -- goes far enough in exploring remedies for the morass in educational and social service delivery mechanisms for our "at risk" youth.

The monograph's basic premise -- that youth-oriented service delivery mechanisms are ineffective -- is valid. And the recommendation to establish "collaborative," rather than "cooperative," strategies is right on target. Yet the researchers seemed to depreciate their own rationale for citing failures in our system: "the current social welfare system divides the problems of children and families into rigid and distinct categories that fail to reflect their interrelated causes and solutions."

Why not be bold and discuss the full implications of the findings in "What It Takes," even if it means challenging entrenched established bureaucracies and their attendant special interest groups? Prenatal care is directly related to early childhood development, which in turn directly affects learning readiness and educational attainment. Teenage pregnancy can be directly linked to misinformation, unstable families and misplaced social values, as well as to expanding health and social costs. And certainly, increasing school dropout and high unemployment rates go hand in hand with inadequate and ill-conceived career education and employment training programs, as well as with heightened crime and homicide rates.

New organizational structures are required: a department of child services, a family services agency or a commissioner of education and training. DWIGHT S. CROPP Special Assistant for Public Affairs Adjunct Professor of Public Administration George Washington University Washington