Children’s Cabinet Highlights Paulding Youth Issues
The collaborative between local organizations and individuals aims to assist children and families in Paulding County. The group meets this morning at the Paulding County Board of Education.
The adage of “It takes a village to raise a child” might just have been one of the sparks that led to the formation of the Paulding Family Connection Children’s Cabinet.
The collaborative brings together organizations—from schools and other government entities to nonprofits, churches, businesses and individuals—that affect children on a regular basis.
“It’s just a way for all of us to get together to kind of really learn about what other people are doing, network, learn each other and what the other programs are, and plan for the community,” said Jana Stegall, chairwoman of the Paulding Family Connection Children’s Cabinet. Stegall also serves as the executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Paulding County.
“We’ve identified areas in the community that have greater needs, and we try to put the resources and supports in place in those areas to really make an impact and make the county overall healthier for families and children,” Stegall added.
Paulding Family Connection Children’s Cabinet meets on the second Thursday of each month, except in July, at 9:30 a.m. at the Paulding County Board of Education.
“If we don’t take care of our children today, there’s not much of a future for our county in the years to come.”
Most meetings focus on one community organization and its roles with children and the community at large. April’s meeting focused on a topic that crossed multiple organizations—child abuse. In observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, officials with multiple member organizations shared statistics and their respective sets of protocols for reporting instances of child abuse and other issues.
In addition to being a resource for information, the Children’s Cabinet also brings together those who can help the community’s youth when the need arises.
“We’ve got an email system that we use between us that when something comes up with a child in the county, that there’s a need or a family need, they’ll send that out. It’s amazing—typically in a matter of minutes but sometimes within a matter of hours—how a response comes in, whether it’s a family in need of some clothes or food or housing, shelter, whatever, this cabinet works together to supply those needs,” said Todd Pownall, a foster parent involved in Children’s Cabinet. Pownall also represents Post II on the Paulding County Board of Commissioners.
“We’ve got children all over our county that have needs, and a lot of times, they could be even a neighbor that you have that you don’t even recognize that those children have needs,” Pownall added. “Coming here, and hearing the organizations and seeing that stats they have, and what they do and how many kids they’ve come in contact with that month or that year … really is an eye-opener.”
Stegall says she encourages community members to get involved with the Children’s Cabinet to see “what’s going on” with Paulding youths and how they might be able to help.
“Sometimes we don’t realize the need in our community,” she said. “The economy has hit this community really, really hard because of the construction industry, how much it’s declined and how many people were involved in that.
“If we don’t take care of our children today, there’s not much of a future for our county in the years to come. It’s really important that we meet [children’s] needs today so they can grow up and be healthy, productive members of this community.”
See the attached video for more comments from Pownall and Stegall and details on the Paulding Family Connection Children’s Cabinet.
Today’s meeting of the Paulding Family Connection Children’s Cabinet will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the boardroom at the Paulding County Board of Education. The public is welcome to attend.
This article is part of "Dispatches: The Changing American Dream," our ongoing series about how people across Dallas and Hiram are adapting to the challenges of life in the 21st century. You can find more Dispatches from across the country at The Huffington Post.