Dakota County

The beginning.

Dakota County came into the Rooted in Relationships Initiative with community momentum and forward thinking progress. Dakota County Connections is a community collaboration that has committed its efforts to ensuring quality services and programs to young children and their families. Within the Dakota County Collaboration, more than a dozen partners came together to form the Rooted in Relationships Focus Group on Parent Engagement and Education. 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 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 beginning Rooted in Relationships, the county had already implemented Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI) and had it available to its families. The community had already begun to implement parent trainings and classes like Common Sense Parenting through Boys Town to support parents’ in finding alternatives and successful ways to parent.  They were able to do some of this work through another Nebraska Children and Families grant to Dakota County when they started out. They also combined a pilot scholarship program with the parent trainings to help low-income families afford quality child care services while working to improve scores on the Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and build parenting skills, they continue to use these scholarships because of the success it has brought to families.

The process.

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. With the funding available through NCFF we are able to bolster current services as well as new projects, Dakota County Connections wants to continue to maximize services and support children and families whenever possible. The Rooted in Relationships committee continues to focused 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 2 years to get their input on what parents feel they need for support rather then what we think they need. The RIR Focus group has implemented a multitude of parent training’s both at ECH Centers and out in the community. During these trainings, the group has supported providing meals, childcare and incentives to encourage parents in their efforts to improve on their parenting skills.

 All Partners involved in Dakota County Connections are enthusiastic about the Pyramid Model. Our continuation group  is in its third year and are also very excited about the new expansion group of ECH Centers and Home providers that have joined in. 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 that has partnered with our community to support us in implementing evidence based practices that enhance the social-emotional development of children, birth through age 8. One part of this initiative has been the support in implementing the Pyramid Model, which is a framework of evidence-based practices that promote the social, emotional, and behavioral competence of young children. In addition, RIR has allowed us to develop and implement a long-range plan that influences the early childhood systems of care through parent engagement and education in the community and supports the healthy social-emotional development of children through wonderful parent trainings, ECH staff trainings, and community education that comes through our collaborations and marketing efforts.


Find out more about Dakota County's Work Plan: