City Livability Award Winners 1997:
Examples of Winning Applications

The following are examples of winning appliations from the 1997 City Livability Awards Program. They have been placed on the Internet as a guide for Cities assembling the 500 word application. We hope they are helpful!

Cities of Population Less Than 100,000

Cities of Population More Than 100,000

Cities of Population Less Than 100,000

First Place Winner: Canton, Ohio

CITY OF CANTON, OHIO
Richard D. Watkins, Mayor

 

The Canton Community Clinic

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

The Canton Community Clinic (the only free health care clinic of its kind in the state of Ohio) opened its doors to patients in September 1994. The need for a medical-dental clinic serving residents of Southeast Canton had been studied since 1969. There are only four primary care physicians and no specialists in the area. Only two of the four physicians accepted Medicaid patients. The Canton Community Clinic is located in the heart of the city's Southeast section which is comprised of 17,000 residents. In this area, 32% of the population live below the poverty level and 44% are minority. For the city of Canton, the percentages are 22% and 19% respectively. There had long been a need to provide medical services to those who are geographically isolated from primary care providers and/or lack the ability to pay for such services.

Who does the program affect? How?

During its first ten months of operation the clinic treated approximately 2,500 patients. One third of those were children. Sixty percent of these patients have no health insurance (public or private) and 55% are unemployed. Fifty-two percent of the patients are minority.

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

The mayor, with the assistance, generosity and cooperation of all sectors of the community, was able to secure a building and community development funding to remodel the building. Area doctors and hospitals donated all the equipment and supplies. While the clinic has three paid positions, area doctors, dentists, nurses and lay-people volunteer their services. Thousands of citizens now have access to primary medical care. In March of 1996, the clinic opened its dental wing providing dentistry to those who had no means of access, many receiving dental care and oral hygiene treatment for the first time in their lives. The Canton Community Clinic is an outstanding example of how a community pulling together can improve the quality of life for thousands.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (330) 489-3291

CITY OF FOLSOM, CALIFORNIA
Glenn Fait, Mayor

 

The Folsom City Library

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

In 1992, the residents of Folsom's library service was provided by a branch of the Sacramento Public Library. Historically, the city had expressed dissatisfaction with the level of service provided by the County Library System, and was further dismayed to learn that the branch was going to be closed due to a severe budget crisis, leaving a community of almost 40,000 with no library service.

Community residents rallied, looking to the mayor and City Council for leadership. The city established its own public library, the first established in the state of California in over ten years. With a great deal of support from community organizations and businesses, the city was able to open the Folsom Public Library.

Volunteers spent every Sunday morning for six months remodeling a city owned building from an office building with 28 offices to the current open floor plan suited to a library. The Lion's Club provided the $10,000 for supplies needed to do the remodeling. The Friends of the Library coordinated moving the shelving and books, with the help of inmates from a nearby prison. July 1993, the library was opened to the public.

Using the same amount of tax money historically collected for library service in the city of Folsom, the city has been able to expand library hours from 29 to 51 a week. The book and material budget has increased by 600%. Use is up 90% since 1993. Community involvement and support have continued to be high, with Intel donating money for Sunday hours, Kiwanis donating money yearly toward a building fund, and over 40 individuals volunteering every month.

Who does the program affect? How?

The program affects two distinct groups of people, with the most important being the residents of Folsom. Concentrating on four distinct roles, the library has focused on service to preschoolers, with story times and a large storybook collection, and reference service. Many computer-based reference services are available, with a special emphasis on health related information. Additionally, the city provides popular reading collections, including a book on tape collection that accounts for 10% of the monthly circulation, and support for formal education programs. The residents of Folsom are the intended beneficiaries of the programs, with circulation figures and results of a telephone survey showing that they benefit in increasing numbers.

In the realm of unintended consequences, the city opened this library in what was the beginning of the worst fiscal crisis in California libraries, when most jurisdictions were cutting back and many thinking of closing. For several years, Folsom Public Library was the most positive library story in the state of California. It was an early example of the depth of public support for libraries, which has since been shown across the state. The Director received several calls a month as communities grappled with how to provide library service in their community. While the circumstances in Folsom were unique, and could not be easily transferable as a model, it did show municipalities across the state that where there is a will, there is a way.

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

This was an early example of libraries being "saved" through public/private partnership. As the 90's wore on, it became obvious that the solution for library funding problems would take continuing community participation. The Folsom Public Library still works with companies such as Intel and Kikkoman, community organizations and the public to obtain funding for services and collections. These relationships are proving crucial to the formation of the Folsom Public Library Foundation which is being created to raise money to start the construction of a new library building.

The Folsom Public Library is an outstanding example of a community coming together to solve its own problem, and to ensure that residents are provided valued services.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (916) 355-7391

CITY OF KETTERING, OHIO
Richard P. Hartmann, Mayor

 

Access to Recreation

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

Long before ADA (American with Disabilities Act) became law, the city of Kettering recognized the need and right of people with disabilities to have access to recreation opportunities. "Access to Recreation" is a vast array of recreation programs designed not just to make accommodations for special populations, but to attract them to all recreation opportunities.

The program offers special events exclusive to those with disabilities and also encourages them, through accommodations, to enjoy and participate in programming with people who do not face such challenges. (Both residents and nonresidents can participate.) Although some of the programs are more than 10 years old, additional programming/events/facilities have been added on an ongoing basis.

Among the programs are a playground with special ramps and equipment that lets children with disabilities and children without disabilities play right alongside one another; a camp for people ages seven to twenty-one who have mental retardation or other developmental disabilities, to help them learn to live and play within their community; an adapted aquatics program with specialized one-on-one instruction; and a host of dances and outings including professional sports events, river boat rides, progressive Thanksgiving dinner and more.

Access to Recreation grew out of the fact that we found ourselves in an ever increasing leadership role in many programs and activities offered throughout the region. As our awareness of the limited access to recreational opportunities for persons with disabilities grew, so did our goal of ensuring that maximum inclusion and availability prevail in our community.

Who does the program affect? How?

Access to Recreation benefits people with mental retardation, and physical and emotional disabilities by providing special events for them to participate in, as well as assistance to help them participate in all recreation programming.

Our proactive approach has resulted in the creation of leisure assistance and leisure assistants provided to people with disabilities so that they can participate successfully in recreation programs. These programs are not just programs geared toward a specific population, but are inclusionary in method, meaning participants take part alongside so-called "able-bodied" participants. These programs also are supportive in effort, meaning that while we offer leisure assistants, who provide whatever help is necessary for the person's involvement, the goal is, over time, for the person to participate independently.

Our leisure assistants have made it possible for a man who is blind to take ice skating lessons, and a developmentally disabled 20-something-year-old woman, who has the abilities of a nine to twelve-year-old, to take line dance lessons.

Leisure time planning sessions also are offered, allowing recreation staff to explore, with a person who has a disability, all citywide recreational opportunities as well as to discover that person's interests and determine what accommodations will be necessary.

Because of Access to Recreation, people with disabilities have more/better opportunities for socialization; a chance to get out and enjoy life; improved health and fitness and a chance to be like everyone else.

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

Access to Recreation is a model program because of its proactive approach to serving special populations, partnerships with other agencies serving special populations, leisure assessments and leisure assistants.

The city of Kettering did not wait for a national mandate to realize the importance of providing recreation for all. For many years, our recreation division has taken a proactive approach to providing for the needs of special populations and is noted throughout the region for quality programming.

Over the years, we have worked with agencies serving special populations and two years ago actual partnerships were developed with three county board of mental retardation agencies to co-sponsor activities for people with disabilities. The new partnership has reached more than 500 people who participated in a Hawaiian Luau, Halloween party and Winter Wonderland dance.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (937) 296-2416

CITY OF SMITHSBURG, MARYLAND
Mildred "Mickey" Myers, Mayor

 

Smithsburg Beautification and Safety Program

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

Our Town's program was created in 1994, and was developed due to a long standing concern over our deteriorating sidewalks and streets in the older section of Town. Many years ago, these streets were lined with beautiful maple trees. But, time saw these trees decline, resulting in unsightly stumps, root upheaval to the sidewalks, and an expensive problem for most homeowners to correct. Safety was also a factor. This is when my plan to solve this matter started to materialize. Not wanting to make our citizens suffer needlessly to solve a situation that most homeowners did not create, a plan to instill pride and incentive in our citizens began. Taking small sections at a time, the town paid for new curbing to all properties encouraging them to replace/repair their sidewalks. Also, these same areas received new street overlay as well as storm drain improvements. The effort we hoped for materialized immediately. Citizens were so pleased to see the town doing something else for them, the pride took effect and they started to replace their sidewalks without having to enforce our ordinance. I also had a plan whereby any homeowner with very limited income could work out an agreement allowing the town to do the sidewalk repair and they could establish a pay-back rate that was affordable. The payment plan was graciously accepted by several homeowners. The program is still in progress and my goal is to continue it until all the older streets and sidewalks in town are once again safe and pleasurable to use. One big side effect from this program was the beautification of our square. While the town paid for the drainage improvements and street repair, the beautification part was done entirely by citizen donations-- a fact we are very proud of.

Who does the program affect? How?

This program affects nearly everyone physically in the older section of town, as most are seeing these improvements at their property. For the newer developments within our town limits, it is hoped that this new face in the older section of town will make them proud that they have chosen a place to live that cares about its citizens with pride.

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

The reason it is innovative is that the taxpayers are getting an appreciated gift using their tax dollars, and our citizens have shown that hometown pride is still very much in evidence. Sometimes enforcement is necessary, but working in a positive way produces better results.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (301) 824-7234

CITY OF WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA
Nancy Graham, Mayor

 

Clematis By Night

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

In 1993 downtown West Palm Beach resembled a ghost town. It had a reputation as nothing more than a dangerous, rundown buffer zone between the island paradise of Palm Beach and the surrounding suburban golf communities. So the City commissioned a progressive master plan in order to jump start development and provide predictability. Physical public space improvements were designed and built and in November, 1994, the Meyer Amphitheater and Centennial Square, with its dancing interactive fountain, were dedicated. Families began bringing their children downtown during the day to play in the fountain and picnic, but there was still no critical mass.

In early 1995, the Mayor initiated a downtown block party where people of all ages and backgrounds could gather around the fountain. The response was remarkable! "Clematis By Night" is a Thursday night event from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m., featuring live music, a "taste" of area restaurants, inexpensive refreshments and an outlet for local artists. Refreshments are organized by the City but sold by non-profits which split the profits. More than $130,000 has been distributed to the non-profits.

Building on this event's success, the City has created other festivals and events to bring people downtown. Each Saturday over 3,000 visit the Downtown Greenmarket. Free concerts and festivals draw thousands to the Meyer Amphitheater. Annual events such as the International Art and Antique Show, the Tropical Flower and Garden Show, the oat Show, the Spring Splash, Fourth on Flagler "Pops" concert and an entire month of Dance Through the Holiday festivities in December, bring hundreds of thousands downtown.

Who does the program affect? How?

"Clematis By Night" positively impacts the City residents, visitors and downtown businesses. It now draws up to 5,000 people a week who also patronize over 50 newly opened shops and restaurants. Millions of dollars have been invested in buying and rehabilitating old buildings, totally changing the character of five full blocks along Clematis. A live theater moved downtown. Apartments and live-work lofts were constructed and are already 100% occupied, with waiting lists. Office vacancies have decreased. The Thursday night success now brings thousands downtown on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Clematis is now the "place to go." The revitalization of the downtown is now generating a rebirth of its older surrounding neighborhoods. The financial rewards are tremendous!

Families, especially, have rediscovered downtown (the fountain has become so popular that a fountain guard was hired to watch the children). Families gather every day at the fountain to picnic and have birthday parties. As one parent put it, "It is the best and cheapest family entertainment there is." Finally, this event has been a catalyst for a renewed sense of community pride, which is critical to a livable city.

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

"Clematis By Night": 1) maximizes the use of great public spaces already in place; 2) has generated substantial private investment in buildings and businesses; 3) is a great moneymaker for area non-profits; 4) draws suburbanites back to downtown; 5) unites diverse factions in an informal, unforced, multi cultural atmosphere; 6) changes the negative perceptions of the downtown; 7) its success brings people back downtown at other times; and 8) EVERYONE HAS FUN!

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (561) 659-8024

Cities of Population More Than 100,000

First Place Winner: Denver, Colorado

CITY OF DENVER, COLORADO
Wellington E. Webb, Mayor

 

Club Denver

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

With a revived Downtown, superb new parks, libraries, and a world-class airport, Denver and Mayor Wellington E. Webb have turned their full attention to improving the City as a positive environment for our youth. As a key element of this effort, Mayor Webb has created six career exploration clubs for all 18 Denver Public Schools' middle schools. (The schools are governed by an independently elected board, and are not part of Denver City government.)

The $300,000 a year program, called Club Denver, offers career exploration, job skills and field trips in six areas of city enterprise: arts, aviation, firefighting, health care, river restoration and education. The South Platte River Clubs opened in September 1996. The other five clubs began enrolling students in January 1997.

The Clubs have attracted enormous student interest. Today, some 75 clubs are operating in 18 middle schools. While enrollment was targeted at a maximum of 30 per club, some clubs operate with more than 50 students because of student and parent enthusiasm for the concept.

Teachers receive a $1500 stipend to sponsor a club and are given $1000 for transportation, materials and activity fees. All funding is provided by Denver city government, which in turn has attracted substantial grant funding for this purpose. The City and teachers together develop a core of curriculum materials and opportunities by assembling resources from more than two dozen other community partners. These partners include the Red Cross, the Regional Transportation District, the Civil Air Patrol, many individual businesses and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. City venues, employees and materials are used in the curriculum. In the firefighting clubs, for example, firehouse crews team with individual schools to introduce young people to fire science, to the city fire cadet and scholarship program, and to the Fire Department entrance exam.

Club Denver brings a "school-to-career" emphasis, previously focused on high schools, to middle schoolers in the after-school hours. This helps students to develop personal goals and see the link between their dreams for the future and their school work today. The program adds to the after-school options for working families who have children too old for baby-sitting and too young to be left without supervision. It also introduces the pattern of participating in school extra-curricular activities. Finally, it also creates an opportunity for students and teachers to develop a more personal relationship based on a shared interest.

In summary, Club Denver makes Denver a more livable city by mobilizing community resources to support a high quality extended school day program, and providing positive experiences for our young people. It respects and rewards teachers for taking on extra work. Finally, Club Denver is an effective work force development strategy for many of the participating businesses and public agencies.

Who does the program affect? How?

The program dramatically benefits Denver middle school students, their families, their teachers, and their neighborhoods. For students, it offers an experience that fits the "resiliency model" used to predict school and life success for your teens: constructive peer friendships, long term goals, supervised after-school structure and support to make good choices during a critical period of life and at a critical time of day for juvenile crime and mischief.

Club Denver supports working families and helps ease parents' worry when the last school bell rings at 2:35 p.m. in the afternoon. The clubs form one important element in a good family plan for kids' risky after-school hours. They help neighborhoods by redirecting youthful energy during peak time for juvenile crime.

Club Denver is an important element of the City's effort to partner with the school district to improve kids' school performance. Through many partnerships, Club Denver pro-actively implements Mayor Webb's vision that "Education is everybody's business."

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

Club Denver is an outstanding, innovative program because it blends so many elements in a new way. It has reached hundreds of children quickly with minimal costs. It does this by focusing on improving educational outcomes for kids and strengthening community commitment to shared responsibility for student success.

Many communities, including Denver, have for years operated successful after-school recreation programs. These are important but do not link directly to school achievement as Club Denver does.

Many programs build mentor relationships, but do not provide a linkage with a teacher in the student's school who can help the young stay on track on a daily basis, as Club Denver does.

Many programs demand more of schools and teachers without compensating them for the greater load, as Club Denver does.

Many programs tap community resources without empowering those partners to achieve their own goals for outreach, education and service as Club Denver does.

Club Denver serves as a national model because it offers so much to everyone who takes part.

Mayor Webb strongly believes that this innovative program and the success it has already achieved represents a final element in creating one of the most livable cities in our nation.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (303) 640-4156

CITY OF ANCHORAGE, ALASKA
Rick Mystrom, Mayor

 

Parent Networks
"Keeping our kids safe"

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

In spite of a recent reduction in adult crime nationwide, juvenile crime continues to climb, eroding "Civil Livability" everywhere. The Parent Network is designed to address this disturbing trend.

The most important group to be mobilized to address juvenile crime is the parent community. Many parents want to help, but they don't know what to do. The Parent Network program helps parents reclaim a pro-active role in the lives of their children and gives them the tools to do the job.

Parents are encouraged to get to know their children's friends and their parents. Using a simple guide they establish networks with these adults and work out common rules and common-sense procedures to "keep our kids safe."

First initiated by Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom and his CAP Crime Task Force, the Parent Network program has evolved into a dynamic partnership that includes the Mayor's Office, the Volunteers of America, the Anchorage PTA Council and the Anchorage School District.

Who does the program affect? How?

Parent Networks were launched in August 1995. They impact 50,000 school-age children and their parents.

With the help of parent volunteers, 25,000 brochures/guides, entitled How To Create a Parent Network, were circulated through the Anchorage school system the first year. Sixty thousand more have been printed this year and are being distributed through schools, banks, and supermarkets. These guides, larger than normal size and printed on heavy cover stock, enable parents to create lists of their children's friends, their parents, and how to reach them.

A community-wide steering committee of 80 parents of many ethnic backgrounds dedicated themselves to spreading the concept. With their help, the guide was translated into Spanish, Tagalog, Korean and Japanese. Other translations are in progress, including Samoan and Laotian.

The Anchorage PTA Council adopted Parent Networks as its number one safety project. Workshops have been held to encourage 63 PTA presidents to initiate Parent Networks in their schools. The National PTA organization, impressed with the concept, wrote an article in their national publication, Our Children.

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

The idea is simple. Perhaps that is why it catches on so rapidly. Most importantly, it costs little and mobilizes an army of caring adults, accomplishing what government alone cannot achieve. In 1996, crime in Anchorage dropped dramatically, homicides down 16%, rape down 18%, robbery down 28%, burglary down 7%, assault down 5%, and stolen autos down 25%. This progress is the result of a many-faceted campaign, of which Parent Networks is one important element.

The idea is spreading. We have received over 50 calls and letters from Mayors, police chiefs and PTA presidents wanting to initiate Parent Networks in their communities.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (907) 343-4436

CITY OF BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
Thomas M. Menino, Mayor

 

Operation Cease Fire

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

Under the leadership of Mayor Tom Menino and Commissioner Paul Evans, Operation Cease Fire is Boston's comprehensive program of intervention and enforcement that has been the cutting edge of an overall strategy that has reduced 24-year old and younger persons' homicides by 71% between 1995 and 1996 (June-December). No juvenile has been killed by a firearm in Boston since July 1995.

Cease Fire is a targeted response to the problem of youth violence, brought about through an innovative and unprecedented partnership, among all public safety and criminal justice agencies operating in Boston. They developed the program in 1995 and implemented it in 1996.

Mayor Menino made youth violence one of the city's top policy priorities upon taking office four years ago. He wanted an effective, comprehensive strategy to control and prevent victimizations and crime. Commissioner Evans answered the call with the innovative, highly-collaborative Operation Cease Fire.

Commissioner Evans convened the Working Group in early 1995. Original research by the Kennedy School for the Group revealed the scope and nature of the problem. Between 1990 and 1994, 155 Boston youths (21 and under) were killed by guns or knives. Seventy five percent of these homicide victims had criminal histories, and at least 60% of these victims were involved in gang activity.

Who does the program affect? How?

The program has the most substantial impact on at-risk youth (24 and under), particularly those with prior criminal records, as it has likely saved many of their lives. Their families, friends, schools and neighborhoods are also significantly impacted, as the level of fear decreases with reduced victimizations and violent crime rates.

The Working Group took two facts as basic to its strategy:

  1. Most youths who committed firearms-related crimes, and most victims, had long prior records of lesser offenses, and many were already on probation, making it possible to reach them through intensive, directed law enforcement efforts.

  2. Police and probation officers knew both the offender and victim populations, and knew the pool of candidates from whom the next victims and offenders were likely to emerge. By focusing on this group of known offenders, Cease Fire developed a targeted response to curtail crime.

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

It reinterprets the enemy' in the traditional war on crime by recruiting those committing crime to become partners in suppressing violence; built upon the recognition that some youth want to stop the cycle of retaliatory violence and will change the dynamic when confronted with clear, credible information regarding consequences of continued violence.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (617) 343-4507

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
Honorable Edward G. Rendell, Mayor

 

Focus Philadelphia

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

Focus Philadelphia, an endeavor initiated in 1995 by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, is an opportunity for teens of diverse backgrounds to work together. The three-phase project is a springboard for community activism by increasing intergroup understanding among community members. The goal is to reconnect young people in these neighborhoods with adult leadership across cultures, and to engage all parties in a community development project identified through a video/research process.

Phase I involves outreach into neighborhoods that have a significant amount of intergroup tension, based on assessments by staff of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. The project coordinator, in collaboration with an adult facilitator and video trainer, recruits groups of five high-school-aged youth to form Focus Philadelphia Teams, which are diverse and representative of the community. The youth, guided by the facilitator, begin by setting guidelines for participation within the group, such as agendas and locations of meetings. In conjunction with a number of workshops that deal with the issues of conflict resolution, writing, interviewing, sensitivity, and group process, each team begins to talk about the important issues that face its community. They make a collaborative decision, while keeping their own experiences in mind, on issues they feel are defining for the neighborhood and focus the theme of their video on those issues. To date, the videos have covered topics such as teenage drinking, drugs and domestic violence, graffiti, fear, violence, and homophobia. This phase culminates in a celebratory screening of their films to community groups and businesses.

The goal of Phase II is to move from identification of the problem to action. Each team receives training to build the skills required for outreach and is encouraged to involve as many members of the community as possible, particularly across generational lines. Additional screenings of the video help build neighborhood support and generate ideas for feasible community projects, which specifically address an issue identified in the video. After writing a proposal and a budget, which are submitted to the governing body of Focus Philadelphia, the teams are awarded seed money to begin the community projects.

The third phase of Focus Philadelphia is to help the youth achieve the skills and make the contacts to help them raise funds to continue their efforts. Ideally, the community project will become a self-sustaining vehicle for change. The end result of Focus Philadelphia is a project which engages both young people and older residents of changing communities in ongoing community projects that benefit all who live there, by giving youth the ability and freedom to make decisions within their team and their communities.

Who does the program affect? How?

Focus Philadelphia targets communities facing social stresses as a result of racial and ethnic change. While its initial concentration is on youth, the second and third phases concentrate on the development and implementation of an action program that includes and involves all segments of the local community. The goal is to bring people together across racial, ethnic, and generational lines, working on mutually agreed upon solutions to problems they have identified in common.

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

The operating premise of Focus Philadelphia is that those individuals most directly affected by the problems have the right to identify their concerns through their own research, and arrive at solutions through inclusive processes. By combining the resources of three very different institutions, the Philadelphia Commission on Human relations, the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies and the Fielding Institute, a graduate school of public policy located in Santa Barbara, and the resources within local neighborhoods, Focus Philadelphia is a catalyst for community improvement that is the product of the work of members of the community. It has also joined young people across boundaries of race, geography, and sexual orientation, helping them develop a common understanding and vision of their relationships to the broader society based on the experiences of doing collaborative work.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (215) 686-4673

CITY OF ROCHESTER, NEW YORK
William A. Johnson, Jr., Mayor

 

Impact Team

Describe your city's program: What is it, when was it created, why was it needed?

The Impact Team was created in April 1996. It is a multi-disciplinary team of law enforcement personnel, child protective services, medical and educational professions, counseling specialists, and the District Attorney's Office. It is an integrated approach to the handling of child sexual and serious physical abuse. A major goal of this program is facilitation of team development and organization. The Impact Team initially conducts the investigations with a prompt response and effective interviews. The team works closely with schools, hospitals, and conducts interviews of victims in a separate house known as the Child Friendly House. We have support and expert counseling from the Rochester Police Department's own in-house FACIT Unit (Family & Crisis Intervention Team) and long term counseling with other contract agencies. An objective of the Impact Team is to improve city living with the team, not only to attack the crime, but also to work with the psychological damage, that may have been done to the victim, through immediate counseling. These FACIT work directly for the City of Rochester Police Department and respond immediately to calls for service over the police radio. The team seeks to provide a consistent methods of dealing with child abuse cases, to minimize trauma, to obtain better resolution of cases to maximize the investigative effort, to assure the safety and protection of children and to initiate therapeutic interventions for families and children. A good investigation comes to a successful conclusion. With this success, it proves to us that close coordination and cooperation result in more successful resolutions of child sexual and physical abuse cases. This approach also minimizes trauma to children and their families. The Impact Team provides a central mechanism to the community to ensure efficient coordination, minimize fragmentation of efforts and achieve successful resolutions of cases. It utilizes its approach as the standard for our community in order to minimize trauma to the children and their families while permitting the other aspects of the investigation and prosecution to roll forward. They follow a concept for a comprehensive, integrated protocol. The concept involves two related activities, those being what is required of the first responders involved with sexual and serious physical abuse, and the procedures for these cases once they have ben reported. This concept of the Impact Team is adopted as the appropriate performance standard for our community.

Who does the program affect? How?

The program affects the abused children and their families, as well as the supporting personnel involved in the case, through a better response and success in an investigation. The court system is affected through the sensitivity of many cases. The entire professional community is affected by the reporting and collaborative management of these cases in a legal and social aspect. There are many other role players in this program that are also affected. Law Enforcement desires a successful conclusion. Medical personnel desire minimal trauma, both emotional and physical, for the victim. School personnel are affected through managing certain behavior patterns of the affected children and their peers. Child Protective Services personnel are relied upon heavily for their expertise and support.

In what ways is it an innovative and outstanding example?

The group has operated with a great degree of coordinated effort and is best known in New York State. The successful conclusion to an investigation is a success in rescuing a traumatized child and bringing back the youth and a safe environment for that child. The team has provided the assurance of safety and protection to the family and eliminated needless stress for the children, eliminated delays in service, medical, physical and judicial, and has adequately responded to child abuse cases. The impact team is committed to establish our commitment to children to insure their safety and provide venues of protection for all children and families who have been victims.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (716) 428-7433

Home Search cswann@usmayors.org

The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352

Copyright © 1998, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.