Community and University Define Priorities for Children and Families in Tampa Bay
More than 100 individuals representing USF researchers, community leaders, non-profit executives and concerned citizens and youth attended the Summit.
More than 100 individuals representing USF researchers, community leaders, non-profit executives and concerned citizens and youth attended a Community-University Summit on Priorities (CUSP) February 6th to identify the top vital issues influencing the well-being of children and families in the Tampa Bay community, and set 24 priorities for research addressing their top issues. Hosted by the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and the USF Collaborative for Children, Families and Communities, CUSP brought together university and community perspectives regarding what's most important for research and action.
"We felt it important to begin on-going dialogue to create focused efforts," said Dr. Junius Gonzales, Chair of the USF Collaborative's Steering Committee & Board of Directors and Dean of the Louis de la Parte Mental Health Institute. "The community can drive demand and can provide supply for the things it demands." (Dr. Gonzales also referenced work from the United Kingdom and recommended reading The True Costs of Public Participation: A Framework.)
Opening remarks by Luanne Panacek, Children's Board Chief Executive Officer, set the tone for a very active and productive afternoon. "Giving voice to significant issues is very important," said Panacek. "This is a day about imagining the possibilities."
During registration, participants were asked to indicate their areas of interest from a selection of topics provided. From that information, eight different areas of focus were selected for the summit:
|Positive Youth Development and Young Children
Positive Youth Development and Adolescents
Positive Youth Development and Community
|Housing and Neighborhood Development
Violence and Prevention
Health and Positive Youth Development
Depression and Mental Health
"This was planned as a highly participatory meeting to seek community input on research priorities and identify questions that matter," said Judi Jetson, director of the USF Collaborative. "Nearly everyone registering selected positive youth development as their top area of interest, so we had to create more groups in this area."
Buddy Davis from the Children's Board facilitates group on Health and Positive Development.
While each group focused on a particular topic, all groups were asked to answer these questions:
• What knowledge would help us make Tampa Bay the best place in the country to raise kids?
• What policies, programs and practices might we put in place if only we had the research?
• What key facts and data do funders and policymakers need in order to determine the value of what we’re currently doing?
Discussions heard throughout the room included the impact of economic hardship on child abuse and single parenting; how to recruit more non-athlete male role models representing a variety of cultures and professions, suggested by one younger participant who said because of his size, he was always pushed to be an athlete, and was never exposed to other possibilities; the need to create a 'sense of community' for young people, who may be new to an area and don't feel a sense of ownership. Another youth advocate discussed her concern that high school graduates leave school unprepared for the job market, and provided details of a bill she helped promote as a high school student - High School to Business Career Enhancement Act - and discussed how that bill is now policy, and more awareness must be generated. Many other discussions were on support for the homeless, environmental factors, and violence prevention.
Judi Jetson, Director of the USF Collaborative for Children, Families and Communities speaks at CUSP.
At the end of CUSP, each group provided 3 top priorities for their areas of interest. Those priorities will be used by the USF Collaborative in their request for proposals for the 2008 USF Faculty Grant Program. Co-sponsored by the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, the Faculty Grant Program is a core activity of the USF Collaborative for Children, Families and Communities. Recipients receive up to $15,000 for projects that involve collaboration between two or more university disciplines as well as a partnership with a community organization.