From Bryan Nelson – Orange County Commissioner - District 2
Since 1989, the Citizens Commission for Children (CCC) mission is to provide funding and monitoring of local human service programs that address the needs of children and families in Orange County. As leaders in a diverse community, they embrace the role as innovators in the growth and transformation of the philosophies and funding systems of services that touch the lives of countless residents in the Orange County Community.
The Citizens Commission for Children recognized the evolving need for a comprehensive service delivery system, thus implementing the Family Support Model. The model supports the belief that individuals and families want to move from dependency to self-reliance, that they are best served within their own community, and that they, themselves, are the “experts” in identifying the challenges and resources in their lives and communities.
In 1995, the Citizens Review Panel for Human Services(CRP) Advisory board was established with the mission of coordinating the allocation and distribution of human services funding dollars to nonprofit organizations. On behalf of the Citizens Commission for Children, the CRP issued 18 Request for Proposal (RFP), in the following areas for fiscal year 2015-2016: adult literacy, alleviating hunger, at-risk youth programming, emergency assistance, employment and job readiness, and family counseling to name a few. The distribution of CRP’s dollars in the 2015-2016 fiscal year added up to approximately $2,372,839.13, funding in areas such as Family Counseling and Case Management, Youth Programming, Service for the Disabled, Education, Employment and life skills, Emergency Assistance and Homeless Service, and other social services.
The Citizens’ Commission for Children’s Neighborhood Centers for Families (NCF) offer a variety of services and activities to children and families within their neighborhoods. NCF’s are one-stop service centers within 13 Orange County Communities. Some of those communities include Zellwood, Apopka and Pine Hills. NCF’s provide a multitude of services including; counseling, health and nursing services, tutoring, parent education, employability and job placement skills, job fairs, community events, child care referrals, senior activities, and much more.
According to Angela Chestang, the Manager for the Citizen’s Commission for Children, “The great thing about our neighborhood centers is there is no stigma and there is also a 24-hour turnaround. Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the Orange County Board of Commissioners have been very caring and want to see that services are available and that children and families have some type of stability. Through evidenced-based outcomes, we know that the programs and services funded Orange County’s Citizens’ Commission for Children are making an impact on children and their families.”
During the Summer of 2015, all 13 Neighborhood Centers for Families were evaluated and each demonstrated progress and success in their ability to achieve community-based outcomes. From the 13 NCF’s evaluated in 2015, on average, more than 93% of students in NCF programs demonstrated success by:
The Citizens’ Commission for Children also funds 28 after school middle school programs throughout Orange County. The After School Zone is a collaborative partnership between Orange County Public Schools, the YMCA of Central Florida, and the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida.
Ms. Chestang states that, “The goals were simple: to improve grades, increase school attendance and reduce juvenile delinquency in all Orange County Middle Schools. Thousands of children are in a supervised learning environment instead of being at home and potentially getting into trouble. After 17 years the After School Zone has impacted over 200,000 kids and has achieved its goals each and every year.”
“Both models have won numerous awards and successes have been many, as has been shown in annual evaluations used to track the success of families. Every year counselors hit the mark with their efforts. Evaluation results show clients are able to access resources better, have better coping and parenting skills-all things that help a family become more stable.” – Angela Chestang.