MANATEE -- To continue to address child and family issues, Manatee County Children's Services Advisory Board has determined it is time for a community needs assessment.
"It will give us an opportunity to look at what community is saying is really needed and use that to build a plan for the board to carry us for many years into the future," said Lynette Edwards, chairwoman of the Children's Services Advisory Board, during a joint work session Tuesday with the Manatee County Commission.
To help assess community needs, some entity would help determine the best tools for gathering data such as having focus groups or sending surveys, Edwards said.
"I am sure we will have a variety of different ways of collecting information over the areas of concern the community has," Edwards said, adding they will then put priorities into a plan for the future.
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The community needs assessment was part of the Children's Services Annual Plan presented by the Children's Services Advisory Board. The plan for fiscal year 2017 is expected to go before the commission for approval Jan. 12.
"The data will be used to identify and prioritize issues and to clarify their impact on the community and the vulnerable populations within the community," according to the draft of the children's services annual plan. "Once the community's most pressing issues and related behaviors are identified, strategic planning can take place to prioritize risk and protective factors and to select effective interventions and strategies to solve or reduce the problem."
Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman at the work session since commission Chairwoman Betsy Benac was absent, said she thinks it is wonderful the advisory board is considering a community needs assessment.
"I always like to know that we are looking at things and not just settling on the way things have been done in the past," Baugh said.
Commissioner Robin DiSabatino suggested a five- to 10-year plan.
"It's just good to see that you are doing a needs assessment for us now and going forward," she said.
The Children's Services Advisory Board makes recommendations for funding programs "concerning the needs of Manatee County's children and families," according to the county website.
The annual plan lists six funding priority purpose categories: crisis stabilization; family strengthening and support; early childhood health, education and development; out of school time and youth development; prevention of at-risk youth behaviors; and redirection of risky youth behaviors.
The commission also:
Heard a presentation about the county public records request response process. The county receives more than 4,000 public records requests a year and a new software program will be unveiled in January to better facilitate the process. The new system will allow anonymous requests from home, according to Debbie Scaccianoce, county Records Division manager. The system will also allow the county to track response times and determine how many requests there are and where most requests are "going and coming from," she added.
Saw a demonstration of the new autopulse resuscitation system, which is a machine that does automatic chest compressions for CPR. Since July, the system has saved six lives, according to the report.
"What a great new tool to have," Baugh said.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.