Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Warren focuses on strengthening families

United Way, Raga fuel 'Vision'

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Freshman state Rep. Tom Raga and the Warren County United Way are leading a countywide effort to strengthen families — an issue residents cited as their No. 1 concern in a 2000 survey.

        “Vision Warren County: Strengthening Our Families” kicked off with a gathering of 100 people from businesses, governments, churches and schools in late June, United Way Director James Pottebaum said Monday.

        “Some people get the mis perception that just because Warren County is affluent we don't have problems,” Mr. Pottebaum said.

        The United Way's 2000 needs assessment found county residents more concerned than in 1994 about many family-related issues, including parent-child communication; sexual, physical and emotional abuse of chil dren; family violencel and lack of foster care.

        Teen drug and alcohol problems also are a top concern for a majority of residents surveyed.

        A core “vision” group will spend the next two months reviewing input and creating a mission, goals, and a framework for measuring the effort's success. A lead ership group, including Mr. Raga, R-Deerfield Township, will then be responsible for the followthrough.

        Mr. Raga and Juvenile Court Judge Mike Powell said more money may not be the answer.

        “We need to look at ways that we can have more cost-effective, accessible services for our children and our families,” the judge said.

        At the same time Vision Warren County has taken shape, Warren County commissioners have rejected a total of $61,000 from the state for two programs to encourage fathers' involvement, and to support families who have taken in relatives' children.

        County commissioners said they are opposed to taking state money for “liberal” programs they say duplicate existing services. “I'm really not familiar with what the commissioners have decided to fund or not fund, but any kind of financial support that relates to strengthening families in Warren County is money well spent,” Mr. Pottebaum said.


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