By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
Connection/Dade First held its final monthly noon gathering-of area-social
agencies for 2013 at the Dade County Library on Nov. 21. It will not meet in December.
Family Connection mission is a broad one, to improve the lives of children and
promote stable, financially independent families, and director Becky Page wound
up the year by going over the organization’s success in that regard so far, as
reflected by numbers complied by the “Kids Count Profile,” statistics compiled
by the statewide Family Connection Partnership.
Ms. Page raised
her eyebrows at some of the numbers reported for Dade: “It’s hard for me to
believe that our median household income is $41,233,” she said, reading from the
statistics. “I guess everybody that I encounter, that would not be their median
cheered her. “The good news is our educational attainment for high school
graduates has risen to 83 percent,” she said. “When I first came into this position,
we were at 67 percent.”
population stood at 16,628, but Ms. Page questioned the numbers about babies
born in the county during the last year or so. “So many of our babies are born
in Chattanooga,” she said.
though, Ms. Page said the new statistics should prove helpful to those working
on grants. Family Connection is a loose
coalition of various nonprofits, advocacy and social improvement agencies, many
of which do depend on such grants.
One of Family
Connection’s goals in the county for 2013 has gone well: “Attendance is better
this year,” reported Dr. Catherine Wright of the Dade County Board of
Education. She’s the official attendance czar at Dade schools, and stressing
the importance of getting kids to class each day on time was a Family
Connection priority in September.
one of the new health care reform “navigators” at Primary Health Care, said
help is available there – those wishing assistance in enrolling in health
insurance plans may walk in there and make an appointment, she said.
director of youth programs at Lookout Mountain Community Services, said the
health financing changes coming in 2014 may complicate things in his area at
first as kids currently in foster care and assisted adoption move from funding
through straight Medicaid to PeachCare. “We’re still not sure how that will
affect how getting services for these kids will work,” he said. “Be patient with us as we figure out how it
of the Dade County Sheriff’s Department said cutoff to apply for benefits under
the department’s Hope for the Holidays program, which provides Christmas cheer
to needy Dade families, was Nov. 26, but contributions are still being taken
and in fact actively solicited: The fund
is down $4000 from where it was this time last year, he said. “We’ll take money all year long,” said
off the dark growth accumulating around his mouth and chin as evidence of his
own contributions to the Hope for the Holidays coffers: During the Christmas
season, sheriff’s deputies are allowed to grow facial hair – a divergence from
the usual grooming policy – for a $10 weekly ante to the charity fund.
the department is grateful for any contributions but as a rule prefers donations
in cash rather than goods. “We are
crammed for space right now,” he said. “They use that money wisely and go after
the better deals.”
The deputy also
reported that a new rendition of the sheriff’s Citizens Academy – in which
residents get an inside look at police life – as well as more CERT emergency
preparedness training, which is offered under a federal initiative, will be
available after the first of the year.
And he urged
anyone knowing anyone in need of the department’s CARE program, which will
coordinate volunteers to give shut-ins and elderly an are-you-OK telephone call
each day, to give him a buzz right away. “We’re doing good on the callers,”
said Chambers. “We just need to get the callees.”
Library manager Marshana Sharp said she could recommend the CERT – that stands
for “Community Emergency Response Teams,” by the way – training personally.
“Every parent needs to take this class,” she said.
reminded the noon crowd that the library would open its doors on Saturday, Dec.
14, from 4-8 p.m., in conjunction with the annual Christmas parade, and would
hold a fundraiser with silent raffle, all profits going to keep the library
operating through the end of the fiscal year. “We have Canyon Grill gift
certificates,” she said.
She invited all
to participate in the library’s ongoing crafts, genealogy and computer classes.
“We have something pretty much every day,” she said.
First/Family Connection meets the fourth Thursday of each month – except for
December, in honor of the Christmas holiday – at noon in the county library.
All are welcome, and urged to bring company.