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Parents and Cross-County Collaboration

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Libbey Davis

While mountain towns in Pitkin, Lake, Summit, and Eagle Counties are buried under a thick blanket of snow this winter, the High Country Regional Council is moving full steam ahead to address the need for new and improved parenting programs.

In an effort to discern the specific needs of each county and to facilitate cross-county collaboration, the Council held a Parenting Summit on December 1, 2010 in Edwards, Colorado.  Cross-county collaboration is especially important in the High Country because in many instances families live in one county and commute over mountain passes to work in the neighboring county’s resort industry.  Organizations with parenting programs and funders from around the region attended.

Kari Read, Executive Director of the Summit Prevention Alliance, found the convening of key stakeholders to be extremely valuable. “It really was great…getting to know all the other key people in the parenting field across our region. It is really great to talk through our challenges and brainstorm ideas together. Though we all have our own programs and individual needs and challenges, we often find common ground when it comes to the needs of our families and clients. The parenting summit was rejuvenating and inspirational. I left with a sense of purpose and connection to our partners over the passes that I hadn’t felt before.”

Council Members dispersed throughout round tables and facilitated communication between representatives from parenting programs and funders.  Group discussions helped organizations share success stories and future goals, while funders listened attentively and learned where money is most needed.  Organizations were surprisingly unfamiliar with each other and appreciated the opportunity to learn about other programs in the region.

Mike Bordogna, Lake County Commissioner and High Country council member commented, “it was especially beneficial to get the funders and the implementers together to understand the barriers that both run into while trying to communicate and solve common community issues. It was refreshing to be around people who didn’t care about each other’s titles, but about how to best attack the problems that affect the less fortunate residents in all of our communities.”

In response to the Summit, the High Country Regional Council distributed a survey early in 2011 to organizations that provide parenting programs in order to identify urgent needs that are not currently being addressed.  Ultimately, the High Country Regional Council hopes to leverage funds with other donors in the region to fill in the missing gaps.