I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

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I often find, when I go into communities to share Georgia KIDS COUNT data and information about best practices, that you are overwhelmed by what appear to be insurmountable challenges in your work to improve the well-being of our children and families.

That’s why I hate—yes hate—dwelling on the problem. We need to spend the better part of our time exploring solutions—focusing the conversation on what works to address our challenges.

When I presented KIDS COUNT data at Sumter County’s Annual Community Celebration and Forum this week I saw people energized and excited about using the data to improve their community. The partners in the room at South Georgia Technical College couldn’t take notes fast enough to keep up with the information I shared, and eventually just asked me for a copy of the presentation. Visions for Sumter, the Sumter County Family Connection collaborative, is in its strategic planning process, so much of the excitement came through discussions about their new goals, new vision, and new work.

Watching communities take charge and make the decisions that drive their work is thrilling because our mission at GaFCP is to support the Family Connection work that is organic and driven at the local level. We at GaFCP respect that process, the leadership, and the people who know their communities best.

As state level organizations, we can’t dictate what communities should do to improve outcomes. You must hold yourselves accountable for the results, and the only way you can do that is if we provide you with the data and tools, so you can make informed decisions that will best benefit their children and families in your neighborhood.

Respect them, support them, and empower them to bring about the change they want to see. Ok, so I’ve been influenced by Ghandi, but anyone who has done community development work knows this is true.

Keven Gilbert of The Americus Recorder covered the event. I hope the story will continue to energize you as you plan your work to build a stronger county.