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By Erin Smith

The Young Families Connect grant will be ending in October, according to Bladen County Coordinator and Health Educator Carol Strickland. The program has received funding for the past six and one half years and has been deemed to be very successful. The announcement was made during the Healthy Bladen Collaborative meeting on Tuesday morning.

“We were notified on June 20th we would not be funded like we thought we would,” said Strickland. She added the Health Department has received notification recently the grant will be extended until October 2017.

She said the staff are now in the process of notifying the participants in Young Families Connect and referring them to agencies who may provide the participates with services similar to those they are already receiving with the grant program. Strickland said the next step is to create a Sustainability Plan. She said the grant focuses on such things as helping participants to become self sufficient, assists them in learning parenting skills and there is a health and wellness component.

Strickland explained there is a partnership with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) office which assists the Young Families Connect participants to find employment and the program also assists them with issues such as tuition assistance.

A grant is expected to debut next year which will focus on parenting education. The Health Department is anticipated to apply for funding from that grant.

Strickland said the final meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Young Families Connect grant will be conducted on September 13th, 2017 at the Bladen County Cooperative Extension Office.

Strickland also announced she will retire effective November 1, 2017 after 31 years of working at the Health Department.

In other business, Berkleigh Pridgen updated the board regarding adaptive swing seats which will be installed at Tory Hole Park. She said the seats are expected to be installed once the renovations to the park are completed.

*Marianne Valentiner gave the Chairman’s Report. She said the Online Fruit and Vegetable Outlet Inventory was due on July 31st, 2017. The inventory is a list of locations throughout Bladen County where fruits and vegetables can be purchased. “It is up to the individual if they wish to be on the list,” said Valentiner. She added to participate, you must be selling produce, not giving it away.

*Allison Priest discussed the Health Department’s Family Planning Program. She explained they perform physicals for males and females along with other services. Priest said the program staff are preparing for a review. She explained the review is performed every three years to ensure the program is meeting the requirements for Title 10 and 340B.

*Kelsey Edwards, Bladen County Public Library Director, told the Collaborative the Goodwill Foundation will be on site on September 7th to pass out school supplies at the main library in Elizabethtown. Last year 200 students were able to receive school supplies.

The library is also gearing up for the 1,000 Books for Kids incentive program. Edwards said the purpose is to get children’s parents reading to them. She said the parents will receive a log and when they bring the log with them to the library, they will receive a prize. When a parent reaches 1,000 books they have read to their child, they will earn a free book.

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