Vernon Community Plan
Collaboration proliferates in Vernon. The Vernon Community Network, a consortium of 40 public education, non-profit, faith-based and government organizations, completed a three-year community planning begun in 2008. The Vernon Community Plan results statement, “All Vernon children birth to eighteen are safe, healthy and productive” was rolled out to the broader community in June 2011 where over 150 community leaders, residents and change leaders were in attendance. Notably present were DCF Deputy Commissioner Janice Gruendel, Vice President of Programs at Hartford Foundation, Maria Mojica and Executive Director of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, David Nee. These change leaders joined the Mayor of Vernon, Superintendent of Schools and a host of dedicated policy makers, administrators, service providers and interested citizens in kicking off the community plan. As a result of this two-year planning process, Hartford Foundation and the Graustein Memorial Fund partnered in providing over $300,000 in multi-year grants to support plan implementation.
The plan is organized in three sections: Birth to Eight, Youth 9-18 and Community. The Vernon School Readiness Council (VSRC), the Local Early Childhood Council, excitedly signed on to navigate the birth to eight section of the plan and pledged to work on the following headline indicators: Non-Adequate Prenatal Care; Child Abuse/Neglect; High Quality Preschool Experience and 3rd Grade CMT Reading. The VSRC is also engaged in turning the curve on chronic absenteeism and summer learning loss as Vernon is one of the CT Grade Level Reading communities. There is tremendous energy and effort being exerted in Vernon. For example, a local business partner funded the Vernon Bookmobile that distributed 2,741 books to elementary aged youth in the summer of 2012; an increase of 400% from the year before. Partnership development continues at a steady pace as the full-time Implementation Coordinator outreaches to all sectors of the community.
Community Plan Work Groups
Vernon School Readiness Council (VSRC)
Mission: To ensure that every child in Vernon starts school ready to learn.
The Vernon School Readiness Council is a collaborative group of Community members, educators, and providers who are interested in the well-being of children. This Council oversees the work of the Birth-8 section of the Vernon Community plan. Go to www.VernonSchoolReadiness.org for more information about the VSRC. You can also like them on Facebook.
The Vernon School Readiness has sub committees focused on specific age groups within birth-8 and are guided by the Community Plan.
Prenatal, Infant, Toddler – Community of Practice
Mission: To Help parents and providers raise safe healthy and productive children by providing services, support and trainings
Providers and community members who work with children and families with in this age range are members of this group.
They organize a number of professional development opportunities for the community and are currently organizing infant mental health training which will take place in March.
This group also runs the annual “Ready Set Baby Fair” in September for families in our community who have or are soon expecting to have an infant or toddler. The fair is filled with information from Community providers about resources and programs for very young children.
Preschool – Community of Practice
Mission: To assist parents, guardians and providers in enhancing their children’s development and social-emotional well-being by aligning practices through a meaningful collaboration between school, community and family.
This group consists of members who work with preschool age children and their families.
They focus on identifying and aligning program practices which promote high quality environments as well as smooth transitions for children in to kindergarten.
School Age – Community of Practice
Mission: To assist parents, guardians, and providers in enhancing their children’s mental health, educational, and enrichment well-being by strengthening a comprehensive and meaningful collaboration between school, community and family.
This group includes providers who serve school age children and their families.
Two current areas of focus for this group include the prevention of summer learning loss and developing resources to help adults and caregivers outside of school support children’s homework success.
Youth – Ages 9-18
Vernon Youth Committee
The Vernon Youth Committee oversees the Youth 9-18 section of the Vernon Community Plan. Members include representatives from different community organizations including the school, Police, and private providers who work with children ages 9-18 and their families.
Mission: To promote the development of healthy, productive citizens through a collaborative system of partnerships between the school, family, and community.
The Youth Committee is focused on strategies to improve 2 headline indicators in the Youth section of the Community Plan;
- Student Attendance: % of children who are chronically absent
- Number of Youth who have been referred to the Court system
Since 2011, when Vernon Community Plan implementation began, there has been progress in both of these areas due to the development and work of collaborative systems between school, community, and families. The Juvenile Review Board, for example, a multi-disciplinary group of professionals who meet with youth first time offenders, offers an alternative response more focused on teaching or meeting unmet needs than punishment defers youth from entering the court system. The Youth Committee continues to monitor and maintain systems that have led to a positive change in these areas.
The committee members have decided to focus on the social and emotional health of Vernon children. The committee is interested in identifying a reliable indicator for social and emotional health and is currently looking to gather data that will guide is in supporting this critical aspect of children’s development.
Community Work Groups
Tri-Town Hunger Action Team
Mission: The Hunger Action Team (HAT) brings together local government, schools, faith groups, businesses, nonprofit service providers and concerned residents to eliminate the problem of hunger in our community.
The HAT collaborates to maximize available resources and work to identify any gaps in service and serve as the “Fair-broker” when called upon. The goal is to provide workable solutions to ensure that no Vernon resident goes hungry.
Recently the neighboring towns of Ellington & Tolland were invited to participate resulting in the new name, the Tri-Town Hunger Action Team.
The Tri-Town HAT seeks creative ways to engage community members in responding to the need of hunger in our community. Currently the Hunger Action team is overseeing the production of a video which will create awareness around scope of hunger in the Tri-Town communities. The intent of this video is to educate and inspire people to become involved.
The Neighborhood Advocate Program
A significant component of the Community Plan calls for a provision that enables neighborhood residents to be able to more effectively communicate with municipal social services and volunteer help organizations, and vice-versa. The Neighborhood Advocate Program (NAP), developed in partnership between the Rockville Community Alliance and the Vernon Community Network was developed with this goal in mind. Engaging community members to help one another eliminates some of the negative effects of poverty.
A Neighborhood Advocate is an individual who is known and trusted in the community and someone who people seek out for help. They are active in our community and aware of services available. The NAP program is part of a partnership between the Rockville Community Alliance (RCA), Vernon Community Network (VCN) & the Vernon Police Department – Community Policing Division.
Meetings are held on a bi-monthly basis. Neighborhood Advocates can be found at many Community events, such as the RCA’s – National Night Out in August and the Ready-Set-School Fair in March.
For more information about the Vernon Community Plan, contact:
President, Vernon Community Network