Barnstable County, Massachusetts

The Barnstable County is a four time 100 Best winner. The Barnstable County Council for Children, Youth, and Families (BCCCYF) is a unified network of more than 150 members that promotes the health and well-being of children, youth, and families on Cape Cod. Among the 12 -­member steering committee, there are over 50 different regional and statewide groups represented. The Council is able to bring diverse voices to the table to ensure true collaboration. Many innovative partnerships exist because of BCCCYF connections.

The Cape and Islands Youth Congress is a diverse group of high school students who work together to promote positive change, and better prepare themselves and their peers for the challenges they face as young people. Cape Youth Force, an initiative of Youth Congress, is a grant-making process that enables youth participants to issue guidelines, review proposals, and make recommendations to help fund organizations and programs offering youth-focused and/or youth-led initiatives for young people. Cape and Islands Gay-Straight Youth Alliance, a recipient of a three- year Compassion Capitol capacity-building grant, has established a youth-led group which now networks with other youth-led groups throughout Cape Cod.

The BCCCYF has existed in its current form since 2003. Over 150 members, including youth service providers, child care professionals, school administrators, funders, parents, government officials, and representatives from faith-based groups, are led by an equally diverse 12-member steering committee. Successes of the BCCCYF in recent years include: sponsorship of legislative events on topics such as foster care/aging out, child care, and behavioral health; seven regional Children, Youth, and Family Summits; re-launch of the The Cape and Islands Youth Congress; creation of the Cape Cod Justice for Youth Collaborative; participation on the statewide team to create an action plan for Massachusetts Youth; and multiple examples of grants obtained and funds leveraged because of member partnerships.

An innovative solution to providing caring adults is the Falmouth Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) program. VIPS was initiated in 1982 as a way to increase interaction between public schools and the community of Falmouth. Since then, VIPS has grown from eight volunteers to over 1,100 in all seven town schools. Volunteers log approximately 40,000 hours each year. Services include: volunteering in classrooms; driving for field trips; tutoring; working in libraries and computer labs; providing clerical assistance; and setting up lab and shop equipment.

The Open Wide Preschool Project is an innovative prevention project focused on reducing dental disease in preschool children. Three trainings, two in English and one in Portuguese, were offered during the winter and spring of 2010, and included information on recognizing and understanding the implications of dental disease, identifying and addressing risk factors, making appropriate referrals and using age-appropriate brushing techniques.