Getting those groups to communicate and ensure they all help as many children as possible is the aim of the Calhoun County Children’s Policy Council, which met Wednesday at the Calhoun County Courthouse to review the accomplishments of its member organizations over the last year.
Cotina Houston, the executive director of Family Links Inc., talked about the families who graduated from her organization’s parenting course and Becky Cox, a parent involvement specialist and liaison for the homeless for the Calhoun County school district, announced how the newly implemented Positive Approach to Student Success Program stopped 15 students from dropping out this year.
The group is one of several such councils created by the Alabama Legislature. Every county in the state has such a council designed to support children’s service providers.
The Calhoun County council seeks to improve the outcomes for low-income and vulnerable children by helping their families and guardians find support systems and services.
The Calhoun County council is made up of six subcommittees: health, safety, education, economic security, early care and education, and parent involvement and skills.
Shannon Jenkins, the director of marketing and communications at the local United Way, said having such a council is a benefit because by coming together, the organizations learn about resources available to them and how to connect with other groups.
Linda White, a pediatric nurse practitioner, agreed.
“When you come to these meetings you see what everybody is doing,” she said.
Houston said it’s important to know what other organizations are doing so that certain services aren’t duplicated and that it’s important for there to be a service for every need and ensure that everyone is being helped. Houston said something as simple as a parenting class might be overlooked and rather than two organizations offering a teen parenting class, one might offer a foster parenting class or a class that teaches grandparents how to be parents.
“It’s not just one, big, reaching goal. There are little areas that get missed sometimes,” she said.
Calhoun County Circuit Judge Brenda Stedham, who took over the council in 2009, said the best thing about it is the collaboration between agencies and people.
“It’s really awesome,” she said. “I’m really glad the legislature did it.”
Mike Rollins, the executive director of Coosa Valley Youth Services, said before Stedham took over, the council was really low-key.
“It met because it had to but it’s not nearly what it is now,” he said. “There’s nothing that’s come up in the last few years that anybody has had a can’t-do attitude about.”
Staff Writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.