In 1999, Rick Williams, at that time Magisterial District Judge, and Karen Goss, at that time Director of Mifflin County Children & Youth, were instrumental in spearheading the effort to form a Communities That Care in Mifflin County. These leaders began by forming a “Key Leaders” group, and the Key Leaders wrote the initial implementation grant proposal.
This implementation grant was awarded in 2000 to the Mifflin County Children and Youth by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. This grant funded work to put together a community-wide prevention plan that used the “Communities That Care” (CTC) process. The goal was to determine our community’s readiness to form a coalition, to identify the risk and protective factors in Mifflin County, to inventory existing prevention programs, and to identify prevention gaps in the community. With prevention as the focus (rather than intervention), representation from all facets of the community was sought, and community members were invited to become stakeholders in the healthy development of our youth.
The purpose of the initial implementation grant was to give Mifflin County the resources to put together a well-developed prevention plan that would allow CTC to seek additional dollars over the next three years (2001-2004) to put our plan into action.
The prevention plan was approved and Mifflin County Communities That Care continues moving forward to build and support programs that address the identified risk factors and prevention gaps in Mifflin County. These identified risk factors and prevention gaps are provided through the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS), a survey of school students conducted every two years to learn about behavior, attitudes, and knowledge regarding alcohol, tobacco, alternative drugs, and violence. Prior to 2017, the PAYS provided data on 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students enrolled in Mifflin County School District. In coming years, the PAYS will continue to provide data on 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students enrolled in Mifflin County School District and Belleville Mennonite School.
Mifflin County Communities That Care has encouraged youth involvement to provide information on what behavior and attitudes they are observing first hand. Since the increase in youth involvement in 2018, Mifflin County Communities That Care has gained additional insight on the youth’s perceptions of the identified risk factors provided by the PAYS. The involvement of youth has guided and helped pinpoint what preventative initiatives and programs need to be supported to help minimize the identified risk factors in our youth. It is the hope of Mifflin County Communities That Care that youth continue to engage and be a part of identifying the risk factors being detected in our community. After all it is Mifflin County Communities That Care’s vision that “because of community-wide collaboration, Mifflin County will have safe, caring and drug-free neighborhoods for all children.”