Partners in Dakota County entered into the Rooted in Relationships (RIR) Initiative with strong collaborative momentum and a desire to better the lives of the children, youth and families they serve. The Dakota County Connections (DCC) community collaborative continues to grow, meets monthly and is committing its efforts to ensuring quality services and programs to young children, youth, and their families while addressing challenges and celebrating victories. When challenges arise that can’t be easily solved in our monthly meetings, focus groups are established and a small group of partners with expertise in the content come together to share their skills and interests in working on the challenge. One of the focus groups that was first formed was the Rooted in Relationships group focused on Parent Engagement and Education (the RIR systems strategy chosen). The committee is comprised of individuals who understand the importance of good social emotional development and know it needs to be supported by engaging and caring adults. This focus group works diligently to continue to support the positive interactions that children have with adults during the child’s earliest years because they know these are critical to future success in life. Prior to Rooted in Relationships in Dakota County, the collaboration had implemented Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI) and we continue to provide these supports to our families with the RIR focus group now helping to support these ongoing efforts. The community is also now implementing other parent engagement opportunities, such as Common Sense Parenting, Circle of Security Parenting, and Parent Pyramid Modules, to support parents’ in successful ways to parent. Dakota County Connections is able to provide these supports because of Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (NCFF) through the resources and supports they provide. Through these supports DCC was able to combine a pilot scholarship program with the parent trainings to help low-income families afford quality child care services while working to improve the developmental outcomes of their children and build parenting skills; we continue to use these scholarships because of the feedback from families regarding its success.
The offer of the Rooted in Relationships grant was pursued by Dakota County Connections to help to increase the accessibility and quality of programs that would support children from birth to age 8. Through NCFF’s support we are able to bolster current services as well as build new projects, Dakota County Connections wants to continue to maximize services and support children and families whenever possible. The Rooted in Relationships (RIR) committee continues to focus on identifying areas of strength in the community as well as the identified gaps. Dakota County Connections has continued to reach out to families over the past 3 years to get their input on what parents feel they need for support rather than just what the focus group thinks they need. The RIR Focus group has implemented a multitude of parent training’s at ECH Centers and out in the community. During these trainings, the group has supported these trainings by providing meals, childcare and incentives to encourage parents in their efforts to improve on their parenting skills.
The group has added a parent corner in the South Sioux City Library that offers opportunities for parents and children to have special time together one-on-one. The corner also supports families with information and ideas on how they could use the toys located in the corner for learning purposes as well. The corner also offers information and ideas on addressing challenging behaviors and supporting positive social emotional development and is support by Library staff for parents to talk with when they are looking for ideas or suggestions.
The RIR group has also added another systems priority around health to focus and build upon. Through community input and conversations within the group including our partners at Siouxland Community Health the group identified a new way to reach out to parents to encourage them to read and have special one-on-one time with their children at the earliest ages. We will encourage this by collaborating with the doctors and medical staff at the center who will be able to get books focused on social emotional development into the hands of children and families at well child checks and provide the families with this important information about the importance of reading and special time as well as the phone number of our Central Navigator with Community Response who can help support them if a barrier would arise in their lives.
All partners involved in Dakota County Connections are enthusiastic about the many parent and staff trainings going on including, provider training and coaching through the Pyramid Model for staff both in center and home based child care. Together we have celebrated with one of our centers and one in-home provider who have completed all three years of the Pyramid trainings/coaching. Our Dakota County Collaboration truly understands the importance of brain development and social emotional development in our youngest citizens. We know it takes all of us to support and encourage the development of our future workforce and more importantly the future of this community.
Dakota County Connections mission is to improve the quality of life and social-emotional well-being of children birth to 21 and their families in our community.
We believe that strengthening our community requires all of us working together. This includes:
Maintaining open communication with our partners and the community
Identifying community strengths and needs
Actively coordinating and sharing lessons learned
Defining common outcomes
Aligning individual community needs and resources to meet those outcomes
Seeking additional resources to help reach our goals
Using evaluation and community data to strengthen our programs
Dakota County Connections does not provide programs; it serves to provide a common table for community partners to gather around and collectively address community needs. We support all the organizations and individuals that are directed toward our common outcomes. We also have a wonderful website that anyone can access.
Making it work.
Rooted in Relationships is a wonderful initiative, and NCFF is a great partner with our community, because of both we are able to support the implementation of evidence-based practices that enhance the social-emotional development of children, birth through age 8. The Rooted in Relationships initiative has allowed us to develop and implement a long-range plan that influences the early childhood systems of care through parent engagement, education and now health so that all together we can support the healthy social-emotional development of children through wonderful parent trainings, ECH staff trainings, and community education that is strengthened through collaborative efforts and support through all of our DCC partners.
Find out more about Dakota County's Work Plan: