Alachua County to create a Children Services Advisory Board

April Warren
Gainesville Sun

From 2015 to 2016, Alachua County saw an increase in low weight births from 8.8 percent to 9 percent, according to the 2016 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute County Health Rankings, which were released in mid-March. Overall, the county fell seven spots — from 18 in the state in 2015 to 25 in 2016 — among Florida counties for health outcomes. The measure looks at low weight births, early deaths for all residents and also looks at the answers residents give to questions about physical and mental health.

An assessment was commissioned and the results should be back in August, according to Claudia Tuck, director for county community support services.

Those results will be looked at by the advisory board, which is expected to receive some funding beginning this fall.
Of the nine board members, four will represent agencies or entities — the superintendent of schools, or his designee; a representative from the Department of Children and Family Services; a representative from the county Health Department; and a judge.

Other similar advisory boards that deal with youngsters up through teenagers often include a judge to shed insight on keeping children out of the criminal justice system. Pinkoson said he supported having one sit on the county’s children’s board because of the breadth of services.

These four board members will serve for as long as they are chosen by their entity or for as long as they hold that position.

The remaining five slots will be appointed by the County Commission. These members must reside somewhere within Alachua County and should have experience or expertise with development and early learning from pre-natal to age five. They will serve three-year terms.

“I’m so thrilled, so excited that we’ve come to this threshold now, where we can choose life of our children, where we can chose to not settle for generational poverty for the things that hold children back,” Tremaine said.

The advisory board will meet at least every quarter and all meetings will be open to the public. Advisory board members will not receive any compensation.

“I think this is an awesome thing we’re doing,” said Commissioner Robert Hutchinson.

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