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Upcoming merger won’t slow JCCE services

Jasper, Marion, and Poweshiek will merge their empowerment teams

Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 12:06 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 12:35 p.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

They say that change is good.

Only time will tell if all the upcoming changes for Jasper County Community Empowerment will be good.

The organization exists to help families with kids from birth through age 5. Nicole Brua-Behrens is the director of JCCE and talks about the good they do both now and hope to achieve in the future.

“Something kind of interesting to note is that Jasper County, Marion County and Poweshiek County are merging into one empowerment area,” she said. “We have been working on that for maybe a year and a half, and that merge will take place July 1, 2013.”

She further explained why the merger is taking place:

“It’s sort of a mandate from the state that smaller empowerment areas merge,” Brua-Behrens said. “It’s really a positive thing. It’s going to be a positive thing for all three counties involved. There is a new board that has been put in place and they have been meeting since December. The new board is made up of representatives from members of the current empowerment boards in those counties. It’s really been a fun process.”

Nicole Law is the current chair of the board for JCCE, and will serve as vice chair on the newly-merged board. She has worked with the program for the last five years and was apprehensive about the merger at first, but is now on board.

“I’m a lifelong resident of Jasper County,” Law said. “When I first heard about it, I wasn’t excited about it because right now each county gets $30,000 regardless, and then everything else on top of that from the state is determined by population and whatnot. By merging, we are going to lose $60,000 right off the bat.”

“But as I’ve gone through the merger process,” Law said. “I think it’s going to be more consistent across the state and community empowerment will mean the same thing. And I am excited about that. And having Nicole as a central person doing things, it will be a lot more uniform. What 30 plus people used to do, 12 people can take care of now. It’s involving less people, but we are trying to keep them involved in other areas. We are trying to get to help by not going to a board meeting, but by having them go out and helping in the community.”

Brua-Behrens, who will also retain her position after the merger, insists that the merger will not make the program deviate from their goals.

“The goal of the empowerment program is to provide funding for families with kids ages zero to five,” Brua-Behrens said. “So I think one of the goals is to get funding out there for programming that helps families. Make life easier for families and children. That is kind of the over arching goal.”

Some of the groups and programs that receive funding through them currently are:

Parents as Teachers which is through Jasper County Child Abuse and Prevention

Baby Building Blocks which is a collaboration through Skiff Medical Center and Jasper County Public Health

Get Started Pre-School which is at the Newton YMCA

The provide pre-school scholarships all over Jasper County

They help fund a kids dental program with the I-Smile program of Jasper County

They provide pre-school dental screenings

They also fund professional development days for pre-school teachers and offer a reimbursement program for teachers that need to attend a conference or need special equipment.

They provide a lactation consultant for new moms in a collaboration with Jasper County Public Health

They also do child care nursing consultants through Visiting Nurse Service of Iowa

Staff Writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121 ext. 426 or trushing@newtondailynews.com

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