The Adirondack Explorer/Adirondack Almanack is partnering with Adirondack Foundation to shine a light on unmet needs in the region as well as highlight promising efforts to address them. This special series was inspired by the Foundation’s 2019 report “Meeting the Needs of Adirondack Communities.” To learn more, visit adirondackfoundation.org/
In our previous post, we gave an overview of some of the struggles working families face — finding child care and access to fresh, healthy food options. look at organizations that are working to address the problems that working families face.
Here, we’ll highlight some new ways organizations are addressing the needs of working families.
For example, Saranac Lake has had success in providing before- and after-school child care through a partnership with the Plattsburgh/Malone YMCA. Part of the community schools’ model, it is a “Y” without walls, meaning that the school provides the physical space and the Y offers a variety of services including child care and other programming. Saranac Lake also now has a community school liaison who is helping to bridge some of the gaps between families in the district’s very large geographical area and available services.
The YMCA and wellness center in Chestertown are another example of a community-based approach designed to help working families access services and overcome some of the stigmas associated with counseling and treatment. Grants supporting programs like the Child Care Pilot Project, though relatively modest, can make a big difference in the lives of area residents. It’s about creating the support networks necessary for families and communities to thrive.
Here are a few other examples that are working to address child care and food insecurity/food access:
Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance
Established by Adirondack Foundation in 2014 the Birth to Three Alliance is a network of public and private institutions working to enhance family health and wellbeing across the region. Through collaboration and cooperation, the alliance has had a number of successes, including helping to secure a $1 million government grant to expand home-visiting services, creating new Early Head Start slots, and distributing new parent kits.
Adirondack Wellness Connections, 211, and NY Connects (awareness, referrals, and resources)
These online and telephone referral services help to connect Adirondack families with the help and support they need.
Clinton and Franklin County Child Care pilot project
This was a one-time, non renewable $25,000 grant providing child care tuition payments for 10 families, 8 in Clinton County and 2 in Franklin. $18,000 was earmarked for child care tuition payments—$1,800 per family—and $7,000 for the cost of running the program. According to Jamie Basiliere, Executive Director of the Child Care Coordinating Council, response rates were high and additional funding would allow more working families to access child care.
Community School Model
Saranac Lake School District is currently the only district in the region officially experimenting with the community school model.
Using schools as hubs, community schools bring educators, families, and community partners together to offer a range of opportunities, supports, and services to children, youth as well as their families and communities. Community schools:
- Provide expanded learning opportunities that are motivating and engaging during the school day, after school, and in the summer; and
- Offer essential health and social supports and services;
- Engage families and communities as assets in the lives of their children and youth.
Saranac Lake has a community liaison and began offering enrichment programming for students and families. Hamilton County is also in the process of establishing partnerships between local school districts and social service agencies, suggesting that with enough support the model can be replicated across the region. The goal is to have a trained provider in each of the county’s four school districts.
AdkAction’s farm store, food packages
In 2017 AdkAction, in collaboration with the owner of the Keeseville Pharmacy, opened a farm store/coop called the Farmacy that offers fresh foods and bulk items. This has helped to fill a void in a community that lost its only grocery store about five years ago. Last year, AdkAction opened a second farm store in Port Henry and is developing a “tool kit” for other communities looking to start their own endeavors.
When the COVID pandemic first hit the region in March, AdkAction moved quickly to offer emergency food packages to people in need. Crowdfunding and a $225,000 grant allowed the program to continue beyond its initial projections.
Well Fed Essex County Collaborative
Also in collaboration with the Adirondack Health Institute, Well Fed Essex is an ambitious new project seeking to improve access to healthy local food. Efforts include stocking food pantries and even convenience stores with more locally grown produce and encouraging small grocery stores to accept WIC benefits.
Mobile Farmers Markets
The Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties and the North Country Healthy Heart Network work together on a mobile farmers market that provides access to healthy local food in underserved communities. With a grant from Adirondack Health Institute, the program is expanding and will add two new greenhouses for food production. JCEO also distributes food to over 20 food pantries in the region.
What would you add to the list? Leave a comment below!
Over the next few weeks we’ll be diving into the following topics:
- Support for Working Families
- Developing Support Networks for an Aging Population
- Expanding Affordable Housing and Rental Options
- Increasing Opportunities for Professional Skills Development and Workforce Training
- Creating Pathways to Post Secondary Education
- Providing Options for Drug Addiction Treatment, Recovery, and Prevention
- Improving Transportation Networks