December 24, 2012

Cass leaders outline next year’s goals

CCRN hopes to tap new members

by Caitlin Huston

— Community leaders are preparing for next year with goals outlined at a recent Cass County Resource Network meeting.

From expanding the number of childcare centers to making residents aware of classes for needed employment skills, the group’s five task forces outlined the issues they want to address coming into the year. Overall, Lita Rouser, project coordinator for the United Way, said the group would like to tap more leaders from organizations that haven’t been involved in the group before.  

Nikki Reed, outgoing Reader Railroad coordinator and head of the Childcare and Preschool taskforce, said her group would focus on improving the quality of care at local preschool and daycare centers.

Reed also said one of the issues they will be focusing on is expanding the number of childcare options, which she said currently have 7.5 spots available for every 100 children.

“We don’t have very many licensed centers in Cass County,” Reed said.

Finally, the task force will work to connect kindergarten and preschool teachers so that preschoolers will be prepared for the next step, Reed said.

Lauren Gaumer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cass County said the Family Stability task force would focus on making the public more aware of child safety and parenting classes in the area.

Gaumer said the group was also looking into starting classes at places in the community like the YMCA.

The Neighborhood task force, which currently has three neighborhood enhancement groups and four neighborhood watch groups in the county, is working to expand to other neighborhoods.

The task force will also be teaming up with the Food Security Task Force, which has been talking about planting community gardens in the area and involving neighbors and schoolchildren in the planting.

The Employment Task Force talked about making unemployed persons aware of the skills workers need to develop in order to find employment, including soft skills like communication, Rouser said.

She added that as an overall goal, the group is already talking to members from other organizations so that they can have more of the community represented at their meetings.