Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Panel: Clay Social Services Lag

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Panel: Clay Social Services Lag

Article excerpt

Public services in Clay County have failed to keep up with the

growing needs of the poor, the elderly and increasing numbers of

abused and neglected children.

So says the Clay County Health and Human Services Advisory

Council, which was created by the County Commission in 1993 to

study the overall scope of social services needs in the county.

The council's latest recommendations, which will be presented

to the County Commission for discussion on June 25, include:

Research the benefits of children's services councils

established in other counties to see if a similar entity could

be beneficial in Clay County.

Explore funding sources to facilitate more adequate mental

health and substance abuse services.

Improve public transportation.

Ban billboard advertising of tobacco products to avoid "undue

and influential advertising that can ultimately only harm them

[children]."

Regarding children's services councils, the advisory council's

1995-96 report states: "The county is growing rapidly and does

not appear financially equipped to address growing social

services needs for children and families. Primary prevention

programs are a top priority."

Lauri Price, a member of the advisory council's behavioral

health subcommittee, said a children's services agency could

serve an important role in providing helpful services to the

county's youth.

"It could be a centralized focal point for integrated services

for kids," said Price, who works at the Clay County Behavioral

Health Center.

The advisory group has not taken a formal vote on whether such

a commission should be established, however, only that the

subject should be studied.

"We don't have a body of evidence that I would feel comfortable

with saying we need a children's council," said Robert Grant,

former chairman of the advisory panel and an executive with Blue

Cross and Blue Shield in Jacksonville.

Still, the commission will meet in a workshop later this month

to discuss children's issues, including the results of a recent

survey that listed 16 specific benefits derived from children's

services councils in other counties.

According to the survey, benefits to children's councils included:

Knowledge of the community enables the councils to identify

resources and respond to needs rapidly.

The ability to develop more efficient programs by knowing where

duplication is occurring and where collaboration can improve the

services delivery system. …

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