Two new facilities are now open in High Point to address the gap in early childhood services and family wellbeing – and UNCG had a big hand in making them a reality.
More than 100 people from High Point and UNCG attended the opening Wednesday of the High Point Center for Children and Families (HPCCF) and the Victim’s Justice Center (VJC). Both are located in Southside Recreation Center.
At the open house, High Point City Manager Strib Boynton discussed the city’s commitment to supporting children, families and victims of domestic violence. He praised UNCG’s work on the project, noting, “We have enjoyed a solid relationship with UNCG that goes back several years, and it’s always a pleasure to work with the university.”
Talk about a community-campus partnership! Sponsors who helped develop the intervention programs for young children and their families, as well as victims of domestic violence, are UNCG, the City of High Point, the United Way of Greater High Point and the High Point Police Department.
Then there’s the facility itself, furnished by donations from High Point furniture industry companies. A no-cost lease from the City of High Point made the 5,000-square-foot facility available. In-kind support for the effort totaled almost $390,000, with additional funding provided by the Millis family siblings: Molly, Emily and Bill. UNCG’s Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships will direct and coordinate programming for many of the initial intervention services.
The program will serve as a model of comprehensive child and family services delivered through an integrated system of community providers. UNCG will support community partners in implementing services and will evaluate program outcomes.
Dr. Chris Payne, who directs UNCG’s Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships, is serving as the executive director of the centers. She discussed the importance of the early years in a child’s development.
“Investments promoting positive development in the first three years of life have been proven to yield major returns later in life,” Payne said. “The HPCCF focus on early intervention makes the center much more than a stopgap for missing services. We would intervene with families early to prevent more serious and costly problems when children enter school.”
HPCCF clients will get services that include group and individual therapy for children and parents, transition to school activities, parent education classes, assistance for domestic violence victims, and structured activities to support family visitations for children involved in the child welfare court system.
The Victims Justice Center, which is housed in the HPCCF, is an outgrowth of the High Point Police Department’s highly successful Offender-Focused Domestic Violence Initiative. The VJC will bring police, legal and counseling services together in one location to aid victims of domestic violence.
High Point Police Major Kenneth Shultz will serve as program director for the VJC. “This center provides us with a further opportunity to break the cycle of violence,” Shultz said.
Working in concert, the HPCCF and the VJC will offer a comprehensive approach to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children, individuals and families.
Story by Steve Gilliam, University Relations
Photography by Chris English, University Relations
(News & Record) Guilford County this week launched a pilot program to help young children who end up in contact with the courts because of abuse, neglect or dependency. The Juvenile Court Infant Toddler Initiative is modeled after a 10-year-old Florida program. In that program, 86 percent of families got their children back, said Guilford County District Court Judge Sherry Alloway. Of those, none returned to the system, she said. “These are some of the things we want,” Alloway said. The $500,000 funding for the three-year pilot comes from the Bryan, Cemala, Ellison and Weaver foundations. The program will focus on the child, making sure services are provided to track and promote healthy development, said Chief District Court Judge Joseph E. Turner. Guilford has the resources to work with these children, but there has been no coordination or follow-up, Turner said. He believes this program can provide that. UNCG’s Center for Youth, Family & Community Partnerships will evaluate the program, provide training and track data, director Chris Payne said. “I think we really can change the system and make a difference,” she said. Changing the lives of children is “the whole purpose of juvenile court,” Turner said. Unfortunately, when children end up in juvenile court, it often is too late to have a lasting impact or any at all, according to Turner. Judges said they see the children of children who already have come through their courts. “If we can help these children, then they’re not going to become the parents of the next generation,” Turner said.
Two Center staff, Dr. Chris Payne and Dr. Stephanie Daniel, join colleagues Dr. Esther Leerkes from UNCG’s Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies, and Dr. Joseph G. Grzywacz at Wake Forest’s School of Medicine as co-investigators of a new five-year, 2.9 million dollar NIH grant entitled “Nonstandard Maternal Work Schedules and Child Health in Impoverished Families.” The goal of the project is to understand the threat of nonstandard maternal work schedules to poor children’s physical and emotional well -being as precursors to school readiness. Parents in impoverished families, particularly mothers, are over-represented in jobs requiring a nonstandard schedule. The project, informally known as the “Women, Work and Wee Ones Study” will recruit economically disadvantaged mothers and their infants when children are 3 months of age and follow them until children are 30 months. Designed to determine health impacts of nonstandard work schedules and related parenting practices on children, the study’s results will provide needed information to help parents protect at-risk children and inform potential policy solutions.
A comprehensive youth gang assessment was completed for Guilford County as part of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Comprehensive Gang Model. This best practice Model is currently being used in Guilford County to address youth gang involvement in the county. As part of the Model, the gang assessment is the first essential step in the design and implementation of a community-wide strategic plan to address its youth gang problem. The Guilford County assessment was conducted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s (UNCG) Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships (CYFCP) in partnership with a steering committee, including Youth Focus, Inc., One Step Further, Inc., and Guilford County Court Alternatives. Additional key partners included the local Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC), Greensboro Police Department, High Point Police Department, Guilford County Sherriff’s Office, Guilford County School, students and staff, community residents, parents and youth, current and ex-gang members, as well as an array of youth-serving community organizations.
The assessment includes an overview of the Guilford County community and the prevalence of specific risk factors for gang involvement. Data provided by law enforcement data describes statistics on gang-related crime in the county, which includes data from the cities of Greensboro and High Point, and the unincorporated areas in Guilford County. Publically available data from Guilford County schools is synthesized to provide an analysis of gang-related risk factors present within the system and crime and violence incidents across school settings. Additional school data were obtained from surveys administered to School Resource Officers regarding perceptions of gang activity within schools and their perceived ability to effectively deal with it. Surveys were also administered to community youth and adults to ascertain their perceptions of gang activity in their neighborhoods, schools, and day-to-day lives. Interviews with gang-involved youth provide additional first-person understanding of gang life in the county.
Based on all data collected, the assessment will be used to guide the next step of the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model, which is the development of a strategic plan for prevention, intervention, and suppression activities related to youth gang violence in Guilford County. According to the Model, this next stage will be driven by a diverse, multi-disciplinary steering committee that will coordinate strategies and policy decisions to reduce youth gang activity in Guilford County.
News Release (PDF)
Gang Assessment Meeting Notice (Word Document)
Community Descriptions (PDF)
UNCG’s Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships joins the Cemala and Bryan Foundations to announce the conclusion of the Ready for School, Ready for Life report and the selection of Guilford County as one of 18 sites in the United States for LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health). The 5-year NC LAUNCH pilot project will be coordinated by a team at the NC Division of Public Health in partnership with Guilford Child Development, Guilford Child Health, Guilford Department of Public Health and UNCG’s Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships.