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Community Report

Whole Child Manatee

The Whole Child Project was established in 2000 as a pilot in Manatee County through a partnership with The Lawton Chiles Foundation and the community. Thousands of volunteer hours were logged working in partnership with Electronic Training Solutions to develop a ground-breaking web based tool to link families directly to services, providing a virtual one-stop shop for resources, while also providing critical data around children and services. This work providing the backbone to the system is now known as the “Whole Child Connection.” Initial financial support from The Lawton Chiles Foundation has been replaced with funding from Manatee County through the Community Children Services Board. With advisors located throughout the county, including in the county headquarters, Whole Child Manatee focuses on the Whole Child Connection to refer families to providers, and to help build partnerships to strengthen services in the community. Two major focus areas are in infant health and economic self-sufficiency.

Manatee Key Contact: Pat Johnson

Strengths Challenges

Created strengths in mental health by chairing the Infant Mental Health Chapter of the National Infant Mental Health Assoc.

Capable presence at community events to provide outreach to families.

Strong and capable staff since inception.

Established collaborations among diverse community groups

Lacks buy-in by some providers in the community, and needs assistance with statewide agencies.

No marketing budget to increase visibility.

Absence of a community champion with influence in the community to increase business involvement.

Whole Child Leon

Whole Child Leon was launched in 2004 and has been successful in building strong partnerships across the community. Its focus has been on changing community attitudes about children’s well-being and ensuring greater cohesiveness among the work of the service providers whose programs target young children and their families. The Whole Child staff consists of an Executive Director and a Whole Child Advisor who is responsible for management of the Whole Child Connection funded primarily by United Way of the Big Bend, with additional support from annual grants from the City of Tallahassee and Leon County. United Way provides additional staff support. Governance includes a Steering Committee chaired by Loranne Ausley, Leadership Council of business and community leaders, as well as Professional Network of advocates and providers.

Leon Key Contact: Courtney Atkins

Strengths Challenges

Strong Professional Network

Readiness of Business Community to be engaged and help.

Action Teams engage community volunteers and have made significant progress on goals.

Building on the Whole Child Connection and increasing profiles of families.

Significant engagement of the Business community to make significant change has not occurred.

Driven by volunteers, the action teams are inconsistent in their focus and energy.


Whole Child Martin

Also launched in 2004, the Whole Child project in Martin County was piloted by the Children’s Services Council of Martin County (CSCMC) to improve access and increase utilization of services for children 0-18 years old and their families. It’s focus has been on strengthening the community’s awareness of Whole Child and ensuring families get connected to service they may need. In doing so, the Whole Child Connection of Martin County formed its own 501(c)3 organization and separated from its parent group, the CSCMC. The organization has continued to grow while serving Martin County children and their families.

Martin Key Contact: Nicole King

Strengths Challenges

Staff creativity to tackle issues and challenges; structure and functions.

Breaking from parent organization enables Whole Child Connection of Martin County to raise its own funding and be more autonomous in its programming.

Marketing has been key to increase community awareness and buy-in.

Board leadership could be stronger to demonstrate advocacy for the organization and provide more focus on root causes.

Funding is one of the biggest challenges to continue its work.

Marketing is expensive and competes with other operating expenses necessary.

Whole Child Tri-County: Jefferson, Madison and Taylor Counties

The Whole Child project in the three-county area was launched in early 2008. The project has been championed by the Healthy Start Coalition, which serves the three counties, and is staffed by a part-time employee whose role is to coordinate the meetings of the committee and follow-up on initial tasks. Whole Child JMT launched the “Whole Child Connection” in early 2009.

JMT Key Contacts: Donna Hagan

Strengths Challenges

Champion is the Healthy Start Coalition, which sees the Whole Child work as a natural fit.

Alignment of Healthy Start Coalition work with the Whole Child model of family outreach and holistic service delivery.

Start-up energy is still strong and the steering committee is enthusiastic.

Business community is engaged.

The three rural counties lack some capacity that is needed to build a stronger Whole Child project; particularly at the community leadership level.

Funding only allows a part-time coordinator, and as the project demand increases more staff time may be necessary.

Reliance on one champion at the Healthy Start Coalition may cause funder burn-out and put project at risk.

Need to increase leadership for project


Whole Child Gadsden

Gadsden’s Whole Child project is championed by the local Early Head Start office and is working towards a soft launch of the Whole Child Connection.

Gadsden Key Contact: Joy Anderson

Strengths Challenges

Early Head Start as the champion organization is beneficial in reaching needy families.

Learning from peer communities and willingness to collaborate with other Whole Child cities.

Support from the Department of Children and Families to launch this project has given it credibility and legitimacy.

As a rural county, Gadsden lacks resources and it will be necessary for the Whole Child infrastructure to rely on other organizations outside the champion group for support.

Need to begin engaging broader community.