The National Association of Counties (NACo) has awarded 2014 Achievement Awards to First Things First, the early childhood initiative led by Summit County Executive Russ Pry, for “Summit Kids Month” and to Summit County Public Health for “Care Coordination: A Community Response Model.” Annually, NACo reviews hundreds of entries from counties around the United States looking for the most innovative programs in 21 categories, including children and youth, and health.
Summit Kids Month is an initiative to bring awareness to the importance of early childhood education, screening, and health and wellness. The creation of this month long Public Awareness Campaign was designed by First Things First (www.summitcountyfirstthingsfirst.com), an early childhood initiative that encompasses more than 47 early childhood organizations.
Each week during the month August 2013, important issues facing the families and children of Summit County were highlighted. The first week focused on kindergarten readiness, the second week was devoted to health and wellness, the third week featured the Summit for Kids expo and the Summit for Kids Professional Symposium, and the fourth week focused on infant mortality.
"The programs and events developed by the public awareness committee of First Things First for Summit Kids Month cover a wide range of meaningful topics for families and children in our community,” said Summit County Executive Russ Pry. “Summit County is fortunate to have so many early childhood professionals and I congratulate them on this national award.”
First Things First will continue to build on the success of this program with this coming August being designated Summit Kids Month. The first week in August will focus on kindergarten readiness information. This week will include activities throughout Summit County including events at the Downtown Akron and Barberton libraries preparing children and parents for kindergarten. During week two, the focus will shift to child wellness including mental health, physical health, lead screenings, diet, exercise and oral health. The third week will be family week geared toward family engagement such as father involvement, healthy life course model, family planning and community services. As our children begin to return to school, the fourth week will highlight child safety by encouraging the uses of the Safe Routes to School program and sharing information from Safe Kids Summit County on the proper use of car seats and bike helmets.
The month’s featured event will be The 5th Annual Summit for Kids (www.summitforkids.net/), which will be held at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron on Saturday, August 2nd from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Featured activities include, immunizations, dental services, physicals, free sport bags filled with school supplies, crafts, demonstrations, entertainment and educational sessions for parents. Children will also be able to meet-n-greet Spider-Man & Captain America from Marvel Entertainment and Brobee & Foofa from Yo Gabba Gabba. Admission and parking are free.
Summit County Public Health (www.scphoh.org) was recognized by the NACo for “Care Coordination: A Community Response Model.” The program was created to assure access to all services addressing health disparities that exist as a result of resources and access, particularly for vulnerable populations.
Through Care Coordination, four independent though linked projects, have been developed and successfully implemented to address needs of different vulnerable populations within the community. These programs are Adult Protective Services, Access to Care, Certified Application Counseling, and the Million Hearts Campaign. The concept is as a new need is identified, Care Coordinators can respond quickly to meet that need.
The Access to Care (ATC) program is a volunteer network of 300 primary and specialty care physicians that provide care at no cost to participants. Care Coordinators assess eligibility for this program and serve as a patient advocates and link clients to free or reduced cost care.
Adult Protective Services (APS) is collaboration with the Summit County Department of Job and Family Services and puts services in place for adults age 60 and older who are at risk for abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation. Care Coordinators, Public Health Nurses, Adult Protective Service workers and Registered Sanitarians address the needs of this population via an interdisciplinary team approach.
Certified Application Counseling is a new venture for Care Coordination as it was implemented mid 2013 to address the need for healthcare access recently granted through the Affordable Care Act. Care Coordinators help consumers with eligibility, facilitate enrollment, and provide information in the best interest of the consumer.
The Million Hearts Initiative aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Care Coordination assists with this effort by working with 12 Family Practice Providers in the County to educate provider staff on resources available through SCPH and the Care Coordination Program, to establish referral protocols for providers to connect patients to SCPH, and to provide additional information and resources that may help providers improve their systems of care for hypertension patients.
“On behalf of Summit County Public Health I am pleased with this recognition of achievement by NACo. Care coordination programming represents a transformational change strategy by our local public health system to best assist those most at risk in a rapidly changing health care environment,” said Gene Nixon, Health Commissioner
The National Association of Counties (www.naco.org) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. NACo assists America’s 3,069 counties in pursuing excellence in public service to produce healthy, vibrant, safe and resilient counties. NACo promotes sound public policies, fosters county solutions and innovation, promotes intergovernmental and public-private collaboration and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.