Family & Children First Council ‘connects the dots’

By Anthony Conchel - The Sentinel

MOUNT GILEAD — Kanda Benner says the formula is simple: “We start with the family.”

Benner, coordinator of Morrow County Family & Children First Council, outlined the program for members of the Morrow County Chamber of Commerce at last Tuesday’s lunch meeting.

“We take a personalized approach and we connect the dots,” Benner said.

The agency’s goal is to enable families to function independently of the system and increase their ability to be self-sufficient.

Benner said some times parents just need a break from their daily routines.

“We can help with that too,” she said.

“Our job is to connect the dots and ensure children are receiving the services they need in a coordinated, aligned way,” she said.

“We start with each family’s strengths. That is the foundation of our work.”

Next is to identify the needs of the child starting with the basics of food, shelter and clothing, then building the spectrum of services based on their needs from there.

The Morrow County FCF Council includes parent representatives and members from agencies throughout the county that fund, advocate, or provide services for children and their families.

“We need you. We need parent representatives on council,” Benner said.

Programs offered include Help Me Grow, service coordination, family and civic engagement, community planning and cross-systems initiatives.

“The summer food program. That’s us, along with our sponsor, Marion City Schools.”

It is for all children up to age 18. Going forward, Benner would like to get a sponsor in Morrow County. Those interested should contact her.

Help Me Grow is a program for expectant parents, newborns, infants and toddlers. It provides health and developmental services so children start school healthy and ready to learn.

The council also works with the Oho Children’s Trust Fund with services designed to assist in reducing child abuse and neglect, including a newborn home-visitation program.

The council’s vision is for Morrow County to be a place where families and children thrive and are empowered to maximize their potential.

It seeks to build community capacity and works to fill in gaps in fully serving the needs of families and children in the county. In some instances the agency works to fill these gaps, but does so in a coordinated way to ensure it is not duplicating existing services.

By Anthony Conchel

The Sentinel

For information call 419-947-7045 or email Benner at [email protected] The office is located at 406 Bank St., Mount Gilead.

For information call 419-947-7045 or email Benner at [email protected] The office is located at 406 Bank St., Mount Gilead.