Children's Policy Council of Jefferson County
In 1999, recognizing that state and county level agencies or organizations are often unaware of the activities of other agencies, the Alabama legislature revised a 1975 law that mandated local juvenile judges to form local Juvenile Justice Coordinating Councils. The revised law replaced the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Councils with local county Children’s Policy Councils. Each of the councils is also given fiscal and programmatic responsibilities for the local council. The law also specifies fifteen categories of mandated members of the councils while giving each council the responsibility for selecting an additional seven at-large members. By purposely bringing together agency, organization and community members, children’s services are more likely to be delivered as a collaborative effort rather than taking place in isolation, often resulting in duplication of efforts or missed opportunities to provide services. The same law created a state children’s policy council. The state council members include the head of every state agency that affects children, the state’s leading children’s advocates, and political figures.
Work of the Children's Policy Council
The county councils review the needs of children in their counties and how local agencies and departments can work together more efficiently and effectively to serve the children in their area. These local teams submit an annual report to the Department of Children's Affairs by July 1 of each year on local services provided to children, local needs of children, and recommendations of the county children's policy council based on data from the previous fiscal year ending September 30. These local resource guides shall be used by the State Children's Policy Council in compiling a state resource guide which is distributed to the general public and to agencies and organizations serving children.
Duties of the county Children's Policy Council include:
Reviewing the needs of children ages 0 to 19
Reviewing the responsibilities assigned each agency by law
Determining areas of responsibility and identifying area of duplication and/or conflict between agencies
Identifying local resources
Developing a local resource guide to services available to children which shall include procedural information concerning how to access such local services
Articulating and communicating to the local community the needs of children
Submitting an annual report and needs assessment
The Children's Policy Cooperative of Jefferson County: A (501c3) non-profit organization formed to support the work of the Children's Policy Council of Jefferson County
In November 2000 under the leadership of Judge Sandra Storm, Jefferson County Family Court hired Susan Cotten as the director for the CPC. Family Court also provided office space, match money and countless in-kind services for the Council. As an unincorporated association, the Jefferson County CPC began holding monthly meetings in February 2001.
The good news: Jefferson County's CPC was assembling an unprecedented gathering of local knowledge and experience pertaining to children’s issues. The not-so-good news: funding from the CPC’s major source of income (Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama - CTF) was in jeopardy. Family Court increased its support of the CPC by contributing the funding that CTF was no longer able to provide.
In 2003, the CPC established an Executive Committee, chaired by Al Rohling of the Alabama Child Caring Foundation, to provide steering and leadership. Chief among the Executive Committee's recommendations was that the CPC form a legal entity that could apply for recognition as a 501(c)(3) in order to receive funding needed to sustain its operation.
In 2004, the law firm Bradley Arant Rose and White, LLP provided pro-bono assistance that led to the incorporation of the Children's Policy Cooperative of Jefferson County (the Cooperative). In March 2005, the Cooperative received notice from the IRS of its provisional status as a non-profit organization exempt from Federal income tax. Caro Shanahan, who at the time served as Director of the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources, was elected President of the first Board of Directors.
The Children's Policy Cooperative remains dedicated to building partnerships among all those in Jefferson County who work for the well-being of children. We are dedicated to bringing people together to:
identify and assess the needs of children in Jefferson County
to provide accurate information about children's issues, resources, community services
to build the community's capacity to respond to identified needs of children and families
to convene community organizations and child-serving agencies re: improving health, education, safety and economic security for children
to build collaborations, coalitions and partnerships to launch sustainable child-serving projects and programs
When people become engaged with the Children's Policy Cooperative, they learn more about child-serving programs and available resources and emerging issues, as well as actions they can take to become involved in solutions benefiting children's health, education, welfare and security.
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