Building Community Partnerships
No one wants to ask a stranger for help. A trusted community person can bridge the gaps, educate, mentor, and develop trust between the community and Child Welfare Services (CWS). When community partnerships develop neighborhood-based services for families and work to increase the number of resource families in the neighborhood they bring child protection closer to home. Strong community partnerships strengthen the safety net for children and families by assuring access to support, resources, and services before child welfare is involved and after they have closed the case. Community partnerships can provide services and/or resources that are more accessible and culturally familiar to the families they serve. A vibrant, resourceful, welcoming community support network is available after hours, and on weekends, when CWS is typically not.
Tehama County CWS knows they need partnerships with the community and with other systems to achieve strong outcomes for children. Through the Building Community Partnerships (BCP) effort CWS endeavors to establish relationships with a wide range of community organizations in neighborhoods where referral rates to the child welfare system may be high and collaborating with members of those communities to create an environment that supports families.
The Building Community Partnerships effort hopes that by serving as a catalyst for communities to come together and strengthen their neighborhoods and families based on their own assessment of their needs and application of their skills, resources, and reinforcement of their community network that more children will be able to stay in their homes and neighborhoods. A strong community may be able to assist families in preventing family situations that could necessitate the removal of their children or if need be, an increased capacity for local foster care could allow the child to stay in their neighborhood, school, and church if they must be temporarily removed from their parents care.
In order to achieve these goals BCP embraces a number of core values that are integral to building strong community collaborative that can ultimately maintain their own momentum. This includes casting a wide net in reaching out to potential partners recognizing that the most significant future partners may be the least visible stakeholder. It is important that all of the partners learn to look for and recognize what other partners bring that may not be mainstream or come with a degree.
BCP encourages a focus on the strengths of the neighborhood rather than the deficits and requires that the community take ownership of the process and a continued commitment to maintaining the effort moving forward. To this end, BCP welcomes community roles into decision-making, and holds open meetings, allowing the community to have input and hold CWS accountable.
If you are interested in joining the BCP effort, please contact one of the following people:
Building Community Partnerships – Corning
In the spring of 2008 CWS began the BCP effort in Corning at the Spring Mountain Apartment Community. It was successful beyond anyone’s imagination! Results of the community coming together, identifying their own needs, and creatively developing ideas to meet those needs included not only a trio of community gardens, a food program, soccer program, a variety of classes, and a community mural project, but also fewer child welfare referrals, police reports, emergency fire and medical responses, 1/3 less property damage, and an increased desire to move into the focus neighborhood!
The successes realized in Corning have sparked interest from Red Bluff neighborhoods and plans are underway for BCP to begin work with Brickyard Apartments in Red Bluff!
For more information on BCP’s successes in Corning, click here.
Corning Community Gardens
Corning Community Mural
"It's a little bit helping the community.“- Male foster youth, 10 yrs old
"I painted the tree and a forest. “-Foster youth
"This is great for the community, we came all the way from Rancho Tehama to do this." – Grandparent
Building Community Partnerships - Red Bluff
The successes realized in Corning sparked interest from Red Bluff neighborhoods and BCP began work with Brickyard Apartments in Red Bluff in early 2011. BCP, working with the energetic and enthusiastic manager of the Brickyard Apartments and the community’s residents, developed programs and activities to help and assist families in the area. Volunteers from the community including the Police Activities League (PAL), the Young Marines, and Tehama County Health Services Agency - Mental Health Division also came to lend a hand.
The Brickyard developed a community garden, borrowing gardening tools to prepare the earth and planting donated seeds. The community’s strongest program to date, a cooking class and lunch program, resulted from a serendipitous event involving a gentleman who had just moved to the area, approaching BCP and asking for volunteer opportunities involving cooking. BCP gave his number to Brickyard and together they developed a weekly senior cooking/lunch program. Resident seniors learn to cook recipes and then eat their newly learned creations together. This volunteer additionally provided rides for seniors to appointments. A small community pantry was designed for less fortunate residents to gather some simple groceries to help out during tough times. Other classes developed included a karate class taught by a resident of the complex and a weekly parenting class through the YES program.
During the spring a weekly soccer clinic was held with the goal of building a Brickyard soccer team with hopes to challenge other local complexes to summer games. There was also talk of a possible summer mural on the complex property. Other classes and activities that are in development include classes on legal assistance and canning.
To help rally additional resident involvement BCP went to over 100 apartments and personally invited or left an invite with each household. Residents were invited to attend a barbeque. A raffle was held with a grand prize of a donated Anti-Hero Skateboard, valued at a $150. About twenty five people attended. BCP was able to meet more individuals and spread the word about community driven programs. Residents networked and gave ideas to help the complex. One suggestion was for Brickyard to get a basketball hoop so they youth could have something to do. From this, BCP worked with the community to get a movable basketball hoop.
The community’s manager and residents continued to have meetings on their own and decided safety was a big concern. They did research and formed a neighborhood watch committee and set up resident patrols at the times residences were most concerned about. This increased the sense of a united community looking out for each other. It became known that the Brickyard was not the place to look for trouble.
BCP was able to locate backpacks and new school supplies for two brothers who were in need of the educational supplies. The manager stated “wish you could have seen the smiles on the boys faces, made me want to cry”; the feeling in the apartment has changed. The area has been cleaned up a lot. The residents are working hard to change the community’s reputation and have made a lot of progress.
The manager reports Brickyard’s vacancy rate has changed, they have moved from constant openings to having a waiting list. Residents are coming together during these difficult economic times. Some residents have lost income and to meet their needs have moved into neighbors apartments. Brickyard has helped residents move into their neighbor’s unit.
It is very exciting to see the sense of community being practiced by this apartment. Their excitement and unity is very contagious. The manager continues to lead implementation programs on her own, which include extreme couponing, being lead by a TCDSS employee, and a new karate class. When the manager hits challenges she contacts BCP for guidance. Brickyard has developed tools so it can continue to function with their established network and rely upon residents to support each other.
For more information on the BCP effort at Brickyard Apartments please contact:
• Kristina James – 527-3300
Building Community Partnerships - Rancho Tehama
Encouraged by the overwhelming successes seen in Corning and Red Bluff, BCP moved into working with residents in Rancho Tehama in the fall of 2011.
In the span of just two meetings positive and exciting plans are already underway. The community is bubbling over with ideas for activities like cooking, exercise, art, Tai Chi, computer, and yoga classes, a “Rancho Festival” (a great way to present Rancho Tehama to others and showcase the community’s strengths!), family game night, and a community garden run by the SERFF program. Other ideas included dances, bridge rebuilding, pet education classes, arranging animal neutering at reduced rates, festivals, barbecues, and beyond.
BCP and the Rancho Tehama community will now be focusing on developing and initiating the programs and activities to be run by the residents themselves.
What seemed most wonderful was everyone was excited that they could actually work together to help make RTR a better community. They felt that BCP coming there and having meetings served as a focal point for citizens to do things and share skills in ways they had always dreamed of. This felt like the beginning of a new better healthier reborn Rancho Tehama!
Upcoming RTR BCP Events: