Columbia’s Fun City Youth Academy’s Connecting Families with Tools for Living program supports families in their efforts to lead healthy and productive lives, as well as find support when needed. Fun City Youth Academy has evolved over the years from a safe, supervised program for unattended children, to include cultural enrichment activities and to engage area youth and their parents in academic, cultural and recreational programs that promote academic achievement, self respect, and social responsibility, as well as link families to services and opportunities. The program offers both reading and math curricula and, most recently, developed a partnership with the Columbia Public Schools for an 8 week summer school session. The program uses the Strengthening Families Framework and the Building Strong Families curriculum. We spoke with Program Director Consuela Johnson about Fun City and how it works to enhance the lives of those it serves.
University of Missouri’s Office of Social & Economic Data Analysis (OSEDA) along with the Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) recently released the KIDS COUNT in Missouri 2013 Data Book documenting the status of children in all 114 Missouri counties and the City of St. Louis. The annual publication is a collaborative initiative of the The Annie E. Casey Foundation, OSEDA, CTF and many other public and private organizations from across the state. Annie Casey recently announced that The Family and Community Trust (FACT) is the newest KIDS COUNT grantee in Missouri for 2014. FACT is a non-profit organization supporting 20 community partnerships around the state whose mission is to find solutions to improving the lives of the families and children in their communities.
The online resource provides information on measures of child well-being covering areas such as health, education, financial security, juvenile justice and child protection. The 2013 data finds that during the most recent reporting period, Missouri made improvements in seven of the key KIDS COUNT indicators including a births to moms without a high school diploma, low birth weight infants, infant mortality, teen violent deaths, percent of annual high school dropouts, and births to teens. Three indicators worsened – students enrolled in free/reduced lunch, child abuse/neglect and family assessments and out-of-home placements.
Data for the report is compiled from more than 80 federal, state, county and municipal sources by OSEDA. Primary funding for the project is provided by Annie E. Casey and the Children’s Trust Fund.
Kids Count Executive Summary
Understanding the Data (including Minority Profile)
2013 Databook with County Profiles
2013 Databook without County Profiles
The Young Parent Program, through the New Madrid County Family Resource Center, is a mentoring program that helps young women and their partners during pregnancy and early parenting. The Young Parent Program works to help parents develop skills and independence through support, counseling and friendship. The program focuses on continuing education, finding and maintaining employment, information on living a healthy lifestyle and practicing positive parenting skills. We spoke to Tonya Vannasdall, Director, about the program’s beginnings, the strides made and where she hopes it will go from here.
AUDIO: Vannasdall talks about the program start with the help of the Children’s Trust Fund.
AUDIO: Vannasdall says the program is meant to not only educate but provide an outlet for quality time.
AUDIO: Vannasdall chats about the long-term goals of the Young Parent Program.
AUDIO: Many of those who have been previous participants in the Young Parents program return later on to share their experiences with other parents in the program.
A few years ago, staff with the Jefferson City Daycare Center noticed that some of the children’s parents were struggling with having a life outside of providing for their families. They had very little peer contact and didn’t have the resources available to participate in activities outside of home and work.
To address the issue, Jefferson City Daycare implemented their Parent Education Program, with funding from the United Way and then the Children’s Trust Fund. It’s based upon the Strengthening Families approach to protective factors. The program provides opportunities for parents to take part in educational presentations including subjects like nutrition, infant/child CPR, dental health, budgeting, positive discipline, single parent concerns, and ideas and activities for playing with children. The center welcomes a wide variety of speakers. Donna Scheidt, Jefferson City Daycare Center Director, says the program has grown beyond education and is helping parents make much needed connections and friendships.
The Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services has been providing home visitation services for several decades. An expansion on that practice is the Healthy Babies program, through which social service staff conduct home visits at least once per month providing support services and educational materials using the Partners for a Healthy Baby Curriculum. As part of the support, parents are provided with health and safety items such as car seats, cribs, clothing, diapers, WIC, food stamps, Medicaid and breastfeeding support, as well as encouragement in building healthy relationships. CTF provides grant funding for a portion of the Healthy Babies program. We spoke with Steve Hollis, Human Services Manager, about Healthy Babies and its effectiveness.
Hollis says recent research supports the idea that the first years of life are extremely important and should get a lot of focus. The Healthy Babies program is a great fit for investing in early childhood development.
AUDIO: Steve Hollis discusses Healthy Babies’ investment in the stages of early life.
For many of the families involved, they may not realize their own needs before becoming a part of Healthy Babies. But once they begin receiving visits they gain so much that they don’t want it to stop.
AUDIO: Steve Hollis explains the success of Healthy Babies, and why the program works.
CTF funding has given the Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services an opportunity to expand the Healthy Babies program, something Hollis says came at the perfect time.
AUDIO: Steve Hollis explains how CTF’s grant supports Healthy Babies.
Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) prevention partner Great Circle began implementing Adair County’s Incredible Years (IY) program in 2012, however the program itself was developed more than 30 years ago in Seattle. It has since been recognized by the Office of Juvenile Justice, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and Promising Practices Network. Incredible Years works with families that include children, ages 3-12, who exhibit conduct problems or who have been diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, which make them at higher risk for abuse. The program uses a series of video courses to educate parents and caregivers about positive strategies, techniques and resources they can use to enhance and strengthen their parenting skills. Participants meet in a group setting in an effort to build a network of support for each family. Topics include nonviolent discipline approaches and positive parent-teacher-child relationships. Great Circle offers IY three times per year. We spoke with Lynn Van Dolah, Program Coordinator for Incredible Years about the program. She credits CTF funding for bringing the program to Adair County.
With the success of the program Van Dolah says a goal is to expand IY to reach more people:
AUDIO: Van Dolah talks about expanding IY
Van Dolah shared two testimonials from individuals who had participated in the Incredible Years program.
AUDIO: Van Dolah shares testimonials
Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to call for more information, 660-216-7332:
AUDIO: Getting involved with program
CTF Prevention grantee, The Community Partnership, Rolla, provides assistance to families within a five county area, Crawford, Dent, Maries, Phelps, and Pulaski. One of the programs that the organization has implemented is the Capable Kids and Families (CKF) Program after it became obvious that there was a need across the region by families who were caring for children with developmental disabilities or delays. Amy Beechner-McCarthy, Community Partnership Executive Director and Jean Darnell, Capable Kids and Families Program Director were the thought leaders behind the program. It supports the families by providing home visitation, networking opportunities and assistance with developmentally appropriate therapy equipment. Among the project’s goals is decreasing family isolation and increasing positive family interactions to help reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. Educational opportunities focus on issues that are often triggers for abusive behavior. Opportunities are provided for positive parent/child interaction and occur in conjunction with the development and periodic review of a goals-oriented family strengths plan by each participant family.
Grant funding from Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) helps provide equipment for families that would not otherwise have access to it, for financial or other reasons.
AUDIO: Jean Darnell talks about the contributions made possible by CTF funding
AUDIO: Amy Beechner-McCarthy shares an example of a family helped by the program
Darnell recalls how a Capable Kids’ sitting device helped a four-year-old boy sit up for the very first time.
AUDIO: The difference that a piece of equipment can make
The Pregnancy Care Center in Springfield works to provide health, wellness, and relationship education to young people facing unplanned pregnancy. Along with the center’s efforts to meet the needs of expectant and new mothers, workers also strive to assist fathers in developing the skills they need for positive parenting. In that vein the Pregnancy Care Center developed the Fatherhood 3.6.5 program, which provides a variety of classes expectant fathers can enroll in to gain the knowledge they need to be prepared for parenthood. We spoke with Cindi Boston, CEO, Pregnancy Care Center, about the program and how it works to build overall healthier family relationships.
The program utilizes a peer-to-peer method to reach expectant fathers through non-threatening conversations by a male mentor. Boston says sometimes the men are surprised by the amount of information that is available to them.
The Children’s Trust Fund provided funding that helped initiate the Fatherhood 3.6.5 program. Boston says the funding is vital to success.
The program recently received requests to provide onsite support at an area hospital and college.
Child Care Aware® of Missouri has been instrumental in working to help communities and organizations implement the Strengthening Families™ Framework (SFF), an effort whole-heartedly supported by the Children’s Trust Fund. With the help of Community Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grant funding, Child Care Aware® of Missouri has been able to support three related SFF projects, all connected to the Protective Factors and reaching families before they become at risk for child abuse and neglect. Research shows that when families possess one or more of the five protective factors, their likelihood of abusing or neglecting their children diminishes. The five Protective Factors are:
- Parental Resilience;
- Social Connections;
- Concrete Support in Times of Need;
- Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development; and
- Social and Emotional Competence of Children.
The first project included in this effort was the Small Steps, Big Footprints Mailing, which included several specific, easy-to-implement strategies from the Strengthening Families™ Initiative Self-Assessment for each Protective Factor. This information was sent to child care programs across Missouri to provide a quick reference list of ideas on how to reinforce each Protective Factor when working with families. We spoke with Beth Ann Lang, Chief of Quality Improvement & T.E.A.C.H. MISSOURI Scholarship, with Child Care Aware® of Missouri. She told us why utilizing the Strengthening Families™ Framework is so important.
The second project was the creation of a college curriculum based on the Strengthening Families™ Framework called Teaching Students to Empower Families. The curriculum was successfully piloted by over 60% of all Missouri-based, community colleges with early childhood degree programs. Now available to all two-year community colleges, it is expected to be expanded to four-year colleges and other community based programs. The project created a curriculum based on short, specific lessons followed by activities and extended service learning opportunities. Lang says a major focus of the project was making it useful for students and user friendly for instructors.
The third element was the delivery of the Zero to Three® Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect (PCAN) Training Curriuculum followed by on-site Technical Assistance. The curriculum includes SFFProtective Factors and addresses ways that child care providers can support the families whose children attend their program/center. Through the CTF/Child Care Aware® of Missouri partnership, Child Care Aware® of Missouri delivered 48 3-hour sessions of the PCAN training followed by 296 hours of one-on-one site visits to assist 107 child care staff in directly applying what they learned.
Contained within all of these projects is the mission to enhance a child care provider’s resources by helping them understand what they’re doing well and how they can better support the children in their lives.
In addition to building projects that support the SFF, Lang says it’s important to have the support of organizations that are willing to promote the information that comes from the Framework. Without such support a wonderful tool is in danger of being neglected itself.
NOTE: The Protective Factors now include a sixth factor, Nurturing & Attachment, which is utilized in some applications of the framework.
Whole Kids Outreach (WKO) located near Ellington is an organization that serves children and their families in six counties in southeast Missouri, including Butler, Carter, Iron, Reynolds, Shannon, and Wayne Counties. Whole Kids’ doors were opened in 1999, modeled after the Whole Health Outreach program, and funded through grants and donations. WKO’s Enhancing Families Through Outreach Program is in the 5th year of funding from the Children’s Trust Fund. CTF provides $11,250 with a local match of $33,750. CTF also supports WKO’s Improving Rural Child Welfare through Education, Health, Employment, & Community Building program with a first year grant of $30,000. These two home-visit based programs target families living in poverty or who are at high risk for child abuse or neglect in the home, for instance, those who have witnessed family violence or are caring for a child with developmental delays. We spoke with Sister Anne Francioni, Executive Director of Whole Kids Outreach about the program and the people it helps.
Whole Kids employs registered nurses and outreach specialists who make visits to the home and determine what needs each family might have. They then work to help the families meet those needs through education and assistance from community resources such as their county health center, local pediatricians, the Division of Family Services and community action agencies. The assistance goes beyond providing verbal guidance.