Officials discuss improving child, family services at Carson City meeting | NevadaAppeal.com

Officials discuss improving child, family services at Carson City meeting

A gathering of professionals working in child and family services in Carson City agreed on a strategic plan to help streamline existing services and come up with ways to fill in gaps.

The goals include creating task forces to look into bringing needed facilities to Carson City, including a drop-in center for homeless teens, a residential treatment center for kids with mental health problems, and transitional housing for children aging out of the foster care system.

Children now go to facilities in the area outside Carson City and sometimes as far away as Utah and Texas. Other teenagers end up in detention for weeks, even as long as a couple of months.

Another focus was on how to bring mental health services to elementary school age children and how to come together as a unified voice to advocate before the Nevada Legislature, the Board of Supervisors, and Medicaid.

“We’re not going to solve everything today. We have a lot of cross partnership, it’s just not complete. We want to earthquake-proof our bridges,” said Buffy Jo Okuma, Carson City deputy district attorney. “We’ll work on a strategic plan for the next two months, next six months and next year.”

The Youth and Family Services Symposium hosted by the Carson City District Attorney’s office brought together more than 100 representatives from Carson City School District, Sheriff’s Office, and Department of Juvenile Services, as well as the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) and local service providers such as Ron Wood Family Resource Center and Food For Thought.

The first day on Thursday featured a full-day of presentations from those agencies and groups on what they do. The event concluded Friday morning with a discussion of what’s missing and an agreement on about a dozen actions to take in the next 12 months.

The items include a commitment from each group to post events, meetings and organizational information on Partnership Carson City’s web site in order to create a single repository for information. Another was to develop a list of meetings and groups at which DCFS could give a presentation on foster homes to try to address a shortage of homes here.

The groups also agreed to launch a monthly meeting in which caseloads would be discussed in order to better organize services to individual children and families and make sure none fell through the cracks.

For younger school children, the group committed to working with the school district on bringing services such as those provided by Ron Wood on site at schools or on providing transportation for kids to get help off site.

The year-long goals include preparing to advocate as a community in the next legislative session and to plan for next year’s symposium.

At the end, District Attorney Jason Woodbury thanked everyone for participating and said the event’s ultimate success depends on everyone doing their part going forward.

“I think it did go well,” said Okuma. “I had confidence it would because people who work here for kids and families are so committed.”