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Someone watching over them

Some cynics may discard the adage that “children are our future” as an overly optimistic platitude. Island County is not in that group.

The Board of Health’s ordinance establishing the first-ever Children’s Commission was intended to demonstrate that Island County young people are not only valued for the part they will play in the new millennium, but that their development is closely monitored, helping make the present as bright as the future.

The result of three years of planning by a sub-group of the Community Health Advisory Board, the step was welcome news to child advocates countywide. The commission fills the need for an organization dedicated specifically to the health and welfare of children.

Boiled down, the lofty charge of the Children’s Commission is to assess and identify the needs of all children in Island County, and to advocate and work collaboratively to address those needs.

Effective communication between the commission, local officials and the community-at-large is tantamount to accountability and, ultimately, to success.

A key responsibility of the Children’s Commission is to report on a regular basis to local officials, and to the community, to determine the state of children and youth in Island County and ensure appropriate decisions can be made on behalf of the young citizens.

Dan Bond, staff to the Children’s Commission, said the group was a long time in coming but its existence now serves as a tangible reminder of the county’s commitment to young people. The Board of Island County Commissioners last year earmarked $40,000 from the general fund to be spread over two years in support of the commission’s establishment.

“There has never been an organization with the responsibility, or the capacity, to monitor the well-being of all children in Island County, and to take the lead in collaborative work to address priority needs,” Bond said. “Formation of this commission demonstrates recognition on the part of county government that this work is important. The Island County Board of Health, which includes the Island County Commissioners, should be heralded for their vision and commitment to children.”

Comprised of 20 individuals from South Whidbey to Camano Island appointed by the Board of Health to two-year terms, the commission began meeting in November. The group jumped in headfirst, assessing all available data and establishing their operating infrastructure.

The commission’s first public meeting was held Feb. 7 in Coupeville. Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month in Coupeville from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the commissioners hearing room, located in the basement of the county annex building.

For more information, contact Bond at 678-7884 or danb@co.island.wa.us.

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