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Community Council Study Begins Tuesday, November 11

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Contact: Mary Campbell

The Community Council Study of The Educational, Mental Health, and Housing Stability Needs of Children in Our Region will begin Tuesday, November 11. The sessions will be held each Tuesday, 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the St. Francis Parish Hall, 722 W. Alder, Walla Walla.

The Study Committee will be made up of all interested citizens in Walla Walla, Columbia and northeastern Umatilla Counties. The public is encouraged to participate. Strong participation from a cross-section of the community will maximize the success of the program.

Chaired by Roger Bairstow, the 2008 study will assess children’s educational, mental health and housing needs and evaluate existing systems that fund and deliver services to meet those needs.

Lawson Knight, Executive Director of the Blue Mountain Community Foundation, will be the featured speaker November 11.

The next three sessions will provide an overview of the issues and how they affect educational attainment. Speakers in subsequent sessions will highlight programs and services dealing with those issues in Walla Walla and Columbia Counties and northeastern Umatilla County.Topics will include early learning, home and family issues, in-school counseling, community support programs, and a variety of problems that arise from unmet needs.

The format for each week’s session will be a presentation by individual speakers or panels, followed by questions and answers from the study committee members. At the end of each session, the committee members will discuss what they’ve learned and by consensus agree on their findings.

“Most important to the process and outcome is ensuring wide participation from across the region and across occupational perspectives,” commented Bairstow. “We need all voices heard.”

During the course of study, the group will learn what is working; may identify inefficiencies, duplications, lack of coordination and inadequacies in delivering those services; may identify gaps in existing programs; and may explore ways other communities have filled similar gaps through service coordination or other programs.

In March and April 2009 the group will utilize the conclusions from the study to prepare recommendations for filling gaps in existing programs or suggest new ways for people working in agencies and programs related to mental health and housing issues affecting children’s educational attainment to coordinate those services. The Community Council will then work support citizens’ advocacy for implementation of those recommendations.

A study management team, including Kate Bobrow-Strain, Harvey Crowder, Matt Eppelsheimer, Brian Gabbard, Terry Heisey, and Tim Meliah, has helped to coordinate the course of study.

The Community Council was formed to understand and address regional quality of life issues. One of its goals is to provide the forums in which citizens can study regional concerns and participate in collaborative community development by recommending and advocating for possible solutions to problems to local problems.

For more information about the Community Council and the 2008 study visit www.wallawallavitalsigns.org or call Julie Reese, Executive Director, 509-540-6720.

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