Tune in to Blue Ridge PBS on April 28 at 7:00 pm for episode 10 of BUZZ, featuring rural Giles County’s foster care crisis. Then join us afterward a...
Early in 2015, it was decided by Giles County Administration and the Board of Supervisors to take a detailed look at exactly where, and by whom, reactive services were being utilized within Giles. The goal is to create positive social norms change within the identified high use clusters through a more focused and efficient delivery of reactive services.
Twenty-two different data address points were collected. Incidents by address included; circuit and district court records/incarcerations, truancy, domestic calls, 911, police, fire and many others. These were assembled on GIS overlays and assigned to the physical locations where these individual incidents occurred. (Different categories were represented by different colors within the columns.)
It quickly became apparent that service expenditures were concentrated in distinct clusters within the county. For example; one-percent of physical locations (only 91 addresses) utilize 25% of all provided services. Five-percent of physical locations utilize 55% and 10% utilize 71% of the many millions of dollars of reactive services provided within the county. (This does not include expenses such as school department, public works, etc. It only includes reactive services.)
The process of a more efficient and accountable identification and referral system is being built by county staff and the stakeholders. It is clearly understood that the tools necessary to help individuals and families break out of the cycle of poverty and multi-generational dysfunction can be delivered more effectively with a focused approach. The establishment of relationships and trust within the FOCUS Communities is what will provide the necessary access in order to affect change.
In summary, programming focused on the health of Giles County is as a result of a firm belief in the efficacy of a systemic approach to improving our physical, social and economic conditions to the greatest extent possible. To achieve this improvement, we understand we must change our social norms; protective factors must be enhanced through prevention and intervention programming.
The foundational rationale behind Giles programming lies in the realization that there is no magic bullet, there is not one problem to address or one solution to fix it.
The initial impetus behind many of our programs came as a result of looking at the high economic cost of crime/incarceration, unemployment/underemployment, and educational deficits/lack of education.
This all directly relates to an individual’s potential and, ultimately, the potential of the county as a whole.
It is also important to note that we believe that long-range impacts are geometrically enhanced by coordination and collaboration between all complimentary programs and organizations.
Enhanced Pre-Kindergarten Education (Pre-K)
According the Center for Public Education: A large and growing body of research show that investing in high-quality pre-kindergarten education yields benefits for children, schools and communities.
The National Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort shows that in addition to Pre-K attendees scoring higher on reading and math tests than children receiving parental care, they also:
This year, Giles added 36 additional Pre-K slots.
Summer Youth Work Program (SYWP)
The SYWP is a youth focused “world of work” training program. Youth aged 16 through graduation are eligible to apply. SYWP youth fill out an application form, are interviewed and then placed in a real business that best compliments their interests and aptitudes. Youth not only benefit from their improved transition into adulthood and economic self-sufficiency, they also apply academic and occupation-specific skills. Additionally, they learn broader employment skills such as teamwork, time management and problem-solving.
Giles County Day Report Center (DRC)
Six year ago, Giles County established a DRC for non-violent and non-sexual offenders. They may be first-time or repeat offenders, but the intervention and treatment programming they receive, assists in breaking the cycle of recidivism.
DRC participants voluntarily agree to participate when and if the courts offer them this alternative sentencing option. They begin their DRC program with a comprehensive needs assessment evaluation. This consists of a Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory, a Level of Service/Case Management Inventory and the Psychiatric Diagnostic Screening Questionnaire.
These are scored by a counselor who prepares recommendations outlining the level and type of treatment that will lead to the clients best opportunity for success. They then serve the amount of court-ordered time in these prescribed programs at the DRC.
Six years of data has documented a very low recidivism rate of 18% for DRC graduates.
DRC is funded by the county and administered by county staff.
Giles County Community Service Program (CSP)
The CSP was established in August of 2014. It allowed another viable option to the courts for alternative sentencing. It, in turn, reduces the number of bed-day per diems at the regional jail, it provides a significant, supplemental labor pool to the county and, extremely important to the client, it provides them with a way to pay off their court costs.
CSP helps ex-offenders gain self-confidence and enhance their good work habits. It provides a positive working experience, improves their skills and establishes a job reference. Additionally, it has enhanced the management and supervisory skills of the Giles staff who work directly with these individuals.
CSP participants average in excess of 200 hours of work performed per week. A number of these participants have gone on to full-time employment within the private and public sectors.
CSP is funded by the county and administered by county staff.
Access to Community College Education (ACCE)
ACCE is a partnership between Giles County and New River Community College (NRCC). The program enables a Giles high school graduate to obtain an Associate Degree or Certificate at no-cost to them. The student is required to complete their FAFSA, maintain a minimum of a 2.5 GPA (grade point average), take an NRCC placement test, submit SAT or ACT documentation and participate in 80 hours of community service per year.
This is the first program year and we had 68 high school graduates apply, 21 received full scholarships and 33 accepted ACCE funding.
The benefits of a more educated population are extensive.
Public/Private Sector Collaboration
Giles County is fortunate to be the home of a highly supportive business community. These include, but are hardly limited to Celanese, Chemical Lime, AEP, Carilion Clinics and NanoSonic. It is NanoSonic that I will focus on here.
NanoSonic is recognized as a world leader in the nanotechnology industry. Their clients include NASA, US DOD and US DOT. These are also committed to exciting Giles students on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) topics.
In collaboration with the Giles County School System, NanoSonic and Leidos Corporation, a US Department of Transportation Grant was applied for and awarded.
The Phase I award was intended to develop lesson plans (STEM) related to transportation engineering issues-Intelligent Transportation. Ten lessons were developed for middle schoolers and ten for high schoolers. In Phase II, these are now about to be taught to the students.
This project is funded through US DOT.
Staffing is provided by the Giles School System Teachers and NanoSonic and Leidos Corporation Engineers.
Department of Social Services/Temporary Aid for Needy Families Program (TANF) Collaboration
TANF is administered through DSS. Individuals receiving public benefit through TANF, who are physically able to work are referred to our Giles Community Service Program. Each referral is interviewed to learn what their interests, aptitudes and aspirations may be. We in turn, provide the tools and guidance to help them achieve their goals; should they chose to use them. At the same time, we place them in a public work setting where they can satisfy their, up to (state mandated) 35 hours/week participation requirement. In return for the public assistance that they receive, they provide direct benefit to the public. If a participant demonstrates a willingness to work, the next step is to attempt to place them in a paid position. Additionally, if an individual has expressed an interest in furthering their education, they are referred to a battery of Interest Inventory and Aptitude Assessment Tests (at the Workforce Office) and then placed on a complimentary educational path. The CoMPETE Program (through Virginia Tech) has been able to provide temporary pay for several participants during an employment trial period.
No additional support is required beyond staff time of the collaborating organizations.
Community Mapping Project
This project is the overriding component to our entire philosophy!
The Health of Giles County: A Systemic Approach.
This project has just been completed whereby GIS Overlays were designed to geographically show where 23 different types of reactive services were utilized throughout the county. These reactive services included domestic calls, truancy, incarcerant locations, ems calls, etc.. This mapping demonstrated that 5% of county locations utilized 55% of all our reactive services. This data is currently being discussed with all our collective service provider network to better help them direct their efforts within these high impact areas. This will be done in a centrally coordinated, cross-agency, system wide and accountable fashion. Therefore, these at-risk/high-risk citizens will have their access to all applicable support services maximized.
Parenting Inside Out
This upcoming single component will be offered in the coming year to incarcerants at our regional jail. They will receive 90 hours of parenting skills instruction. This has been demonstrated to not only benefit the children of incarcerants, but to also reduce the recidivism rates of the parents.