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Children's needs given forum

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
Escambia County leaders are brought together as members of the county's Children Policy Council to determine the needs of children in the area and identify ways to meet those needs.
Jordan sees the council as a way to bring together everyone in the county who does something for the welfare of children and work together to identify problems and seek grants.
Each county in the state has a Children Policy Council and the juvenile court judge in each county serves as chairman.
Escambia County's Children Policy Council meets quarterly, and representatives from all of the county groups come together for a conference in Birmingham in every February.
On July 1 of each year, the council must submit an annual needs assessment to the Alabama Department of Children's Affairs.
Committees are formed to represent each area of child welfare, and each committee voices its top three concerns.
Then the council votes to choose the top two in each category.
The needs assessment reads like a wishlist for child welfare advocates.
On the subject of children's health, priorities set by the council for the 2003-2004 needs assessment are to increase funding for children's services in the county and reduce the infant mortality rate.
The council's child safety interests are identifying at-risk children and juvenile violence and crime.
For education, the council would like to see increased family involvement and better school readiness for the county's children.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) controls grant money in the state, Jordan said.
Jordan would like to get input back from the Department of Children's Affairs in response to the needs assessment submitted by the county, such as suggestions and grant opportunities.
Escambia County's Children Policy Council is made up by Jordan, Candace Goodson, Gwen Weed, Shannon Sims, Lynn Smith, Charlie Watterson, Pat Lindsey, Carolyn White, Turner Sims, Hugh Stinson, Buck Powell, Fred Lancaster, Michael Godwin, F.P. "Skippy" White, Vicki Fussell, Kimberly Pettis, Marsha Raulerson, John Garrard, Robert Hardy, April Sells, Emilie Mims, Ruth Harrell, Georgia Raniee, Riley Elliot, Larry White and Tim Hawsey.