WEB - NEWS - Commission goals
Founded by legislation in 1993, the Commission on Children and Families is a citizen advisory Board to the County Court that is responsible for coordinating a local comprehensive plan for children and families.
   The five priorities for the Crook County Commission on Children and Families for 2005 are child abuse and neglect prevention, resolving child care issues, breaking the cycle of poverty, curbing adult alcohol and drug use and juvenile crime prevention.
   Even though Crook County is enjoying a slight decline in the number of children confirmed as abused and neglected, down in 2003 to 65 children from 93 in 2001, this continues to be a predominate issue for our county.
   An emerging issue in the realm of child abuse is the coordination of services to teens that are abused. Crook County has noted an increase in these kids, with no designated lead agency to serve them. This results in them entering the juvenile justice system, or falling through the cracks.
   Strategies to address prevention for younger children and interventions earlier, as well as coordinate services to teens that are abused are priority issues for Crook County.
   According to a press release the commission supports the Governor's desire to prioritize the youngest and most vulnerable youth in our communities.
   Crook County has witnessed a dramatic decline in the number of child care slots available for children in the county, going from 16 per 100 in 2001 to 10.8 per 100 in 2002.
   At the same time, child care providers and our largest child care center are struggling to make ends meet, with over 30 percent of Central Oregon child care providers going out of business each year, according to the press release.
   Crook County has placed a priority on early supports that allow children to be safe and helps them be prepared to enter school, ready to learn.
   The press release states strategies that we support are working with employers to help provide options for parents that make quality child care affordable and training for child care providers to assist them in early childhood development and education.
   Crook County continues to struggle with high unemployment rates. PSU estimates show Crook County with the second highest unemployment rate in 2003, sixth highest over a five year average.
   Symptomatic to this are the effects on children and families. 12.5 percent (five year average) of our population lives in poverty, placing a burden on social services, according to the commission press release.
   Many are uninsured allowing for no preventative health and dental care. In addition, statistics show that children raised in poverty have more difficulty achieving school success and breaking the cycles of poverty. Strategies that seek to grow the state's economy, provide jobs and seeks to provide support to children in helping them break the cycles of poverty and attain education are a priority.
   Adult alcohol and drug use and access to treatment has continued to be an issue for Crook County, as well as the entire state.
   A stark reality to this is that Oregon ranks 10th highest in the nation in illicit drug use among people 12 years and older; however, Oregon ranks 45th in the nation in access to treatment and 49th among 18-25 year olds. In 2002, nearly 45 percent of the parents of children that were abused and neglected had confirmed drug and alcohol abuse issues.
   Similar correlations can be made with those in poverty. Many have drug and alcohol issues, either contributing to their ability to maintain employment, or are using drugs and alcohol because they cannot effectively deal with and have lost hope, over their poverty issues.
   Crook County has reported high juvenile arrests, with a five year average of 71.1 per 1,000 population, ranking us 6th highest in arrests. Culturally, it has been a priority to give a clear message on what the community would tolerate. From 1998 to 2001, the county saw a decided decline in arrests, from 82.3 to 58.5 per 1,000.
   Juvenile Justice partners attribute this in part to the advent of Juvenile Crime Prevention funds that have allowed the county to invest in programs that intervene prior to youth entering the formal system. For Crook County, this has meant school based programs and working with the Youth Service Team to help staff high risk youth and tailor services that have proven to be an effective intervention according to the press release.