Children with health or developmental issues often require the expertise of multiple agencies, organizations, and care providers to thrive. But without effective cooperation among these entities, benefits can be lost, and opportunities missed.

To address this need, Help Me Grow SC launched the Greenville County Care Coordination Collaborative (GCCCC), with the help of a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greenville’s Margaret Linder Southern Endowment (MLSE) in January of 2015.

The collaborative has already borne fruit, and this year will take a major step forward to create an initiative of its own, according to Loretta Crowley, manager of Community Pediatrics in the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health and Advocacy, and GCCCC co-facilitator.

Collaborative members represent diverse organizations serving children and families, including educational organizations, health-care providers, mental and behavioral health programs, home-visiting programs, state agencies, community-based providers, and legal and advocacy organizations.

“We handpicked professionals from a variety of sectors and brought them together to determine how to better meet the needs of children in the community,” Crowley said. “Despite being experts in related fields, they didn’t know very much about each other’s work. So we developed a landscape survey with the Riley Institute at Furman to find out what resourcesare available in our community, and what barriers are preventing children from getting them.”

The survey indicated that Greenville is a resource-rich community, but more could be done to facilitate linking children and services.

Dr. Desmond Kelly, medical director for Help Me Grow SC, said as members learned more about theactivities of other agencies, they saw duplication of some services and gaps in others, then focused on the areas of need.

“They recognized the value of collaborative impact to address common issues affecting vulnerable children,” Kelly said. “Their continued engagement indicates how valuable the participants believe it is.”

One gap the group identified was in support for parents dealing with children’s challenging behavior. Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics consulted with the Greenville County School District to create parent-education programs addressing behavioral challenges.

The collaborative’s expertise and shared vision give it the potential to provide a unified, nonpartisan voice in the area of child well-being, according to Jamie Moon, president of the Institute for Child Success, also a co-facilitator.

“In addition to its original goal to align services, the collaborative could also be a powerful advocacy mechanism moving forward. When you have dozens of organizations speaking with a sharedvoice, it serves to amplify the message that we need smart local, state, and national-level policies taking into account the well-being of children and families.”

Now the GCCCC, which has about 80 members, is ready to build on its foundation to identify needs andaddress them. A presentation on housing insecurity at their fall meeting provided an issue they could unite around.

“People were shocked at how much homelessness impacts us as a community,” Crowley said. “We’re excited to use this platform to reach children and families to promote optimal health and development.”

The collaborative received a 2018 MLSE grant of $34,323 to support a part-time position for one year to launch aplace-based project tackling child homelessness in Greenville.

Bob Morris, president of the Community Foundation, said the GCCCC’s work fits well with the philanthropy goals of Margaret Linder Southern, who asked that half the proceeds of her endowment support children.

“Since its inception, the collaborative has made it easier for providers to get to know each other, work together, and make informed referrals for children with medical and developmental issues,” Morris said. “Their new project will build on those relationships to provide outreach to homeless families.”

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