Friday, February 20, 2015

Community Partnership’s Circle of Hope: Optimism for the Children of Dane County

Did you know that according to a report by the Office of Children’s Mental Health, Wisconsin youths have a higher suicide rate, more psychiatric hospitalizations and less access to mental-health care in school than children in many other states? I didn’t. Or that many Wisconsin counties have few, if any, psychiatrists who treat children? A small poll of health-care providers in December found that when children are covered by Medicaid-funded health insurance such as BadgerCare — the primary funder of children’s mental-health care in Wisconsin — 81 percent had trouble locating a psychiatrist to treat them.

Schools across the state have a fraction of the recommended number of care providers. This is where the organization Community Partnerships comes in. Recently I had the privilege to sit down with the Executive Director of Community Partnerships, Scott Strong, to find out about this amazing organization and the services that they provide for children and families within our community. An hour conversation isn’t long
enough to begin to learn all about the different programs and services this organization offers. It was obvious that Strong is very passionate about his work. Strong became involved within the human services field over 30 years ago, and was brought on to Community Partnerships in 1999 when the organization took over the Children Come First program (CCF). The primary mission of CCF is to stabilize a child’s emotional and behavioral health in order to prevent or reduce the length of placement in a psychiatric hospital, residential care center or juvenile correction. Serving children from birth to 19 years old, CCF offers comprehensive case management, family advocacy and wraparound services, and operates a provider network of traditional and nontraditional mental health service providers supporting children in the community.

The success of this program comes from a great model of strength-based, flexible care that works to create an individualized plan for the children by working with their schools, families, and communities. This creates a network of support and stability around the child empowering both them and their families to be active in their support. By keeping the children out of institutions, the state is not only saving money but also keeping the children in school and within their family and community settings leading to higher success. By focusing on the children’s strengths and engaging them in positive ways CCF saves the state millions of dollars by keeping them in the community and active in society.

CCF is only one of many programs offered by Community Partnerships that use the strength-based model to connect with the community. They have the Early Childhood Initiative Program: a voluntary home visiting program for pregnant women and families with children aged 0-3, ArtSpeak: a one-of-a-kind expressive art program designed for youth who struggle with mental illness and behavioral challenges, and Transition to Independence: a program designed to recognize that between the ages of 18-30 young adults who live with a mental health diagnose have unique needs and provides specialized services to them. These are only three of nine programs currently running, with many more opportunities being presented continuously.

Since 2012, budget cuts within the organization have forced the group to reorganize their programs and have them looking for innovative ways to match the growing need within the community for their services. In order to keep up with demand, the Circle of Hope event was organized. What started as a small wine and cheese fundraiser where children could show off their artwork, this event has grown into a remarkable evening that raises funds to help support all of the incredible programs that Community Partnerships provide to the community. This year is going to be the most exciting yet. Join FIRE Light Group on Friday, May 8th at UW-Madison's Union South for "Vintage Vegas", an event that embodies an era of crooners and class where the Rat Pack reigned supreme. Help us work to promote Community Partnerships and all the valuable programs they provide... and have a great time too!

- Ashley

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Craziest Hotel Room Thefts

Yahoo posted a blog yesterday listing the craziest things taken from hotels. Some of them ARE surprising! For example, how did someone get away with an original Warhol? Was there no security on a $300k piece of art? Crazy!

Are you guilty of small hotels thefts too? Be careful, some hotels are tracking things like linens these days. You could wind up with a pretty hefty bill for a "free" robe.

- Anjee