The Carson City District Attorney’s office is hosting a two-day conference to bring together stakeholders in family and child services.
The goal is to streamline services, identify unmet needs, and ultimately to better serve Carson City’s families.
“Gov. Sandoval says if you want to sit in the shade you have to plant a tree,” said Jason Woodbury, Carson City district attorney. “The objective is to intervene and break that cycle even if only for a few families.”
The event was the idea of Buffy Jo Okuma, deputy district attorney, who organized it with Kristin Luis, assistant district attorney.
“I kept seeing gaps in knowledge and some overlaps and gaps in service,” said Okuma. “We are a small enough community, we should be able to get everyone in the room to talk about who we are, what we do and how we can ask for each other’s help more effectively.”
One issue is foster care. Currently, there are 42 Carson City children in foster care homes outside their own family. More than half those children stay in Carson City, but a significant number also end up in homes in Douglas, Lyon, and Churchill counties, and as far away as Humboldt County due to a shortage of homes here.
In December 2017, for example, 15 of 36 children in foster care homes of non-relatives were placed outside Carson City.
Other issues include family housing and mental health services for children.
“We know that if a child is homeless or bouncing from motel to motel it is hard for them to learn,” said Okuma.
The Youth and Family Services Symposium will take place Feb. 1-2 at the Legislative Building and the public is invited.
The first day will feature a full day of panels on topics in family and child services. A panel on child welfare, for example, will be led by State of Nevada Division of Family Services (DCFS) and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Carson City.
“DCFS is very unknown because everything they do is confidential. There is a misunderstanding about what they do,” said Okuma.
Carson City Department of Juvenile Services will do a panel on juvenile services while seven organizations, including Partnership Carson City and Ron Wood Family Resource Center, will conduct a panel on community resources.
“Youth is our greatest resource and ensuring we are all working together is an investment in the growth of our community,” said Joyce Buckingham, executive director, Ron Wood. “Ron Wood has some new programming that I am anxious to share with our community partners. And I am looking forward to learning from other partners.”
The six panels will also include ones on counseling, education, and law enforcement.
The second day will be a discussion on challenges and solutions, and developing a community strategic plan.
“We’ll take that information from day one and categorize what services are provided and what gaps we have and get some plans on the table on how we can best support, streamline, and free up resources to fill in those gaps,” said Okuma.
The event is the first of what the District Attorney’s office expects to be more symposiums and continuing collaboration.
“We are thrilled. The school district, the Sheriff’s Office, DCFS, juvenile services, they were all immediately on board,” said Woodbury. “We didn’t anticipate we’d have the scope we have in the first year. We thought we’d walk before we could run. This is, from my perspective, wildly successful.”