Contact: Mary Campbell
Robert Zagelow will lead the effort to implement recommendations from this year’s Community Council study, Enhancing the Educational Attainment of the Region’s Children.
Zagelow recently retired from his judgeship on the Superior Court. Prior to serving on the bench, he was a practicing attorney in Walla Walla for 25 years.
“The focus of Community Council’s study was enhancing educational attainment for our region’s children. In addition to addressing the educational component, mental health and housing issues surfaced as contributing impediments,” said Zagelow. “The challenge for our Task Force will be to identify and implement processes that can meaningfully address those issues.
“We recognize that any such problems are often entrenched in our society and institutions and that solutions will likely not be simple, easy or quick. Nevertheless, while we can’t be guaranteed of success in all our endeavors, the one outcome we can forecast is a continuation of the problems into the forseeable future if no current effort is made to effect change.”
A number of study committee participants have volunteered to work with Zagelow on the task force. They will draw on knowledge they accumulated through the six-month process of fact-finding and recommendation development the study committee followed between November 2008 and May 2009.
The Community Council Board of Directors is committed to support the implementation efforts for two years.
“We are very pleased that Bob has agreed to guide the region’s first study implementation,” said Julie Reese, Community Council executive director. “He understands the community and feels strongly about improving the local quality of life.”
The recommendations include:
- Making quality early learning opportunities available for all children by collaboratively creating, funding and implementing a school readiness framework; by increasing availability of child care services for infants and children with special needs and by increasing available weekend and evening care; and by teaching Spanish-speaking students in their native language to help build verbal competency.
- Increasing school attendance by prioritizing and supporting programs which result in consistent attendance; by developing and promoting learning environments outside of school and opportunities that encourage positive relationships between students and adults in the community; and by providing opportunities for all children to participate in extra-curricular activities.
- Enhancing effective parenting through parenting skills classes and increased awareness of resources, including programs for teen mothers and fathers.
- Supporting public schools’ efforts to help residents acquire English and Spanish language skills.
- Including age-appropriate, comprehensive reproductive health education as part of public schools’ basic curriculum.
- Improving availability of and access to mental health services in schools and communities by recruiting a pediatric psychiatrist, by providing youth inpatient mental health services, and by improving access to public funded mental health services.
- Extending the use of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) model for understanding the effects of childhood trauma.
- Emphasizing prevention as the first step toward mental health treatment.
- Increasing the capacity of the region’s foster care system to accept children and teens.
- Coordinating efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing.
- Increasing regional awareness of and access to educational, mental health and housing services.
If you would like to participate with the implementation effort or to obtain a copy of the full study report, contact Julie Reese, Executive Director, at 509-540-6720 or email@example.com.