With 29 years of serving Olympic Peninsula communities, LCS Northwest was on the verge of shutting the doors to our Port Angeles office in autumn 2016. Thanks to an infusion of local support, the office has grown.
“We asked local leaders what the impact would be if the agency closed its Port Angeles program. Would the community care?” Program Manager Lisa Lyon recalled. “The response was a resounding yes!”
Clallam County increased its support for the agency’s Child Check screening contract in 2017, making it possible to add a second full-time position. The contract called for serving 200 kids, and we exceeded that goal by screening 250 youngsters.
Child Check is a universal and free screening program that focuses on the social, emotional and behavioral development for kids 18 months to kindergarten. The program provides parenting support and resource referrals, and works with parents to understand child development and how to implement effective parenting practices.
In addition to Child Check, LCS Northwest operates a Healthy Families Project for families experiencing crisis and hardship. It focuses on three primary areas: family health, financial health and physical health. Services range from basic needs and crisis assistance, parent coaching, information and referral, to classes on budget management, health and nutrition. Community engagement is key, with two large community building events; KIDSFEST and Back to School fair hosted each year.
The Port Angeles center is located in a low-income HUD housing complex owned by the Peninsula Housing Authority (PHA), and many of the center’s clients live in the neighborhood.
“Our relationship with PHA is a win-win,” Lyon explained. “Office space is provided as an in-kind donation and our location makes us conveniently accessible to some of the neediest members of the community.”
This model has worked out so well that PHA and LCS Northwest are actively pursuing a similar service arrangement for formerly homeless families housed in subsidized public housing in Forks. Clallam County has fully funded Child Check and Healthy Families for 2018, making this possible.
“Thanks to the county’s support and PHA’s offer of space, we can begin expanding services to Forks this year,” Lyon said. “We’ll seek additional funds to add a part-time staff person who will be based there.”
The Port Angeles office is managed by our North Puget Sound district.