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Recognizing family-friendly communities.

This article is the last of the Futures Forum series throughout 1992, devoted to the topic of family-friendly communities.

The work of the NLC Advisory Council's Futures Process took the direction of looking at how cities can value families, promoting the idea that municipal officials can serve as catalysts for bringing together community residents, civic groups, organizations, businesses, the media, and government at all levels. The Futures process has yielded the finding that all these groups are important components in erstablishing partnerships and collaborating to create family-friendly communities.

The Futures process examined ways these components come together to provide support for and nurture America's families and communities. The 1992 Futures Report, "Families and Communities" focuses on how families function in their communities and looks at ways municipal leaders can champion families by collaborating at all levels of government, re-examining policies, and preventing damages.

The report highlights how families and communities depend on each other; how cities can mobilize to strengthen families; and steps municipal officials can take to enhance families' abilities to carry out the family functions of providing a healthy and secure environment; care for each generation; to transmit values; meet economic needs; and establish social networks.

Many cities and towns have developed innovative programs to ensure the well-being of families within their communities. A few of these examples are highlighted here.

Additional examples of "family-friendly" community activities are highlighted in the futures report, "Families and Communities." This report will be released during the conference in New Orleans and will be available for distribution.

Streamwood, Ill.'s Park District developed a First Aid for Little People program. This special course, provided by fire department personnel teaches first aid and safety skills to children grades 1-4 and includes instruction on how to control bleeding, shock, poisoning, how to get help, what to do in case of fire, and more. The program allows youth to develop a higher level of responsibility and knowledge regarding emergency medical treatment.

"Success by 6," a community-wide collaborative effort of business, government, labor, education, and human service agencies in the Robbinsdale, Minnesota area, focuses on overcoming the barriers to adequate early childhood development. Coordinated by the Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council, the program's mission was to identify the barriers to proper early childhood development; develop action strategies to address the barriers and form committees consisting of a variety of community members from the northwest area to bring structure to the organization. Volunteerism (which may vary from helping at a day care center to joining the Success By 6 Speaker's Bureau), is just one of the many facets of this program. Resources are made available to assist parents in strengthening their parenting skills.

Arlington County, Va. services its immigrant and refugee population through Bilingual Outreach. This joint effort of Arlington County, private landlords, and volunteers offers a wide array of free services and classes to help these families adjust to life in their new surroundings. Counseling services range from how to use government services to advice on financial planning and even grocery shopping. Programs that deal with job-seeking, alcoholism, and problems facing the teen poplulation are also available. Many of the volunteers who teach the courses are well-established immigrants within the community.

Showcase Savannah, a partnership between Savanah, Ga. city government and community residents, is helping to eliminate some factors that can lead to urban blight. City staff train residents to check their neighborhoods for substandard housing, lighting, sidewalks, and to look for and report litter and abandoned or derelict vehicles. City planners and residents then work together to devise mechanisms to address these conditions. Examples; removing abandoned cars, closing crack houses, making home fire inspections.

West Carrollton, Ohio provides it's old municipal building to house the Children's Health Care Clinic for indigent families.

The residents of Virginia Beach, Va. can participate in the "Families Play to Grow" program that offers a variety of activities for youth and adult family members who are physically and mentally disabled. Wheelchair sports are conducted in tennis, track and field, and basketball. Involvement of the family unit is the unique focus of this shared leisure experience.

About three years ago, Weatherford, Oklahoma built a Civic/Pioneer Center. Staff, utilities and maintenance are paid for by the city. The building provides a place for the senior citizens and others to gather, hold meetings and other activities. The city provides staff for the Nutrition Site located in the Pioneer Center that provides meals for senior citizens.

Friendswood, Texas' "Family of the Year" program is sponsored by the Baybrook and Friendswood Wards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This program recognizes outstanding family contributions to the community in several categories; traditional family, single parent family, overall outstanding family; and service to youth family. The Mayor's office, the local Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood businesses and families within the community work to support this effort of identifying families to be awarded an inscribed plaque that recognizes their contribution.


The NLC Advisory Council's 1992 Futures Report entitled "Families and Communities," will be released during the Congress of Cities conference in New Orleans. Delegates to the conference will be able to obtain copies of this report, the product of NLC's Futures Process activities. The report will be presented to the NLC Board of Directors during their meeting at the conference.

Delegates interested in obtaining a free copy of "Families and Communities" can stop by the Publications Booth in the New Orleans Convention Center.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related information on the National League of Cities' Advisory Council 1992 Futures report
Author:Cheek, Dorothy
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 23, 1992
Previous Article:A year of collaborating to build a strong agenda for the future.
Next Article:Partners in community investment.

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