Initiatives for a Stronger Community is the Poloncarz Administration’s health and human services action plan for Erie County government based on the idea that it is unacceptable for a newly revitalized Western New York to leave behind significant portions of our community when we can effect positive change in their lives. As such, the plan outlines specific measures that Erie County government will undertake to improve the quality of life for residents in need. Initiatives for a Stronger Communityis grounded in compassion and premised on two fundamental principles:
- County government represents everyone
- Government is an essential partner, and where appropriate, it can and should lead
The plan is divided into four sections that correspond with what County government can do to help build a stronger community and enable residents to thrive. The four sections are:
- Employment & Financial Security
- Strong Families, Strong Schools, Strong Children
- Lifelong Health
- Help Where and When it is Needed
Section two, Strong Families, Strong Schools, Strong Children, is based on the premise that a strong community sustains itself by investing in its families, schools and children. Many children in our community face challenging circumstances which, as numerous statistics indicate, threaten their opportunity for future success. However, a strong community refuses to stand idly by and watch this potential lost. Rather, it uses its strengths to help every child grow into a happy, productive adult. Our community is strengthened every time a child reaches adulthood ready to succeed. The Office of Public Advocacy is the lead department for Initiative 2.11 Develop and Deliver an Educational Curriculum to Teach Children and their Families How to Have “Healthy Families and Healthy Relationships”
Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence. Specifically, dating violence can have a negative effect on health throughout life. Youth who are victims are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, or exhibit antisocial behaviors and think about suicide. Youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.
The Erie County Office of Public Advocacy will utilize an educational curriculum to teach middle school students in grades 6 through 8 about healthy relationships. The ultimate goal is to stop dating violence before it starts. During the preteen and teen years, young people are learning skills they need to form positive relationships with others. This is an ideal time to promote healthy relationships and prevent patterns of dating violence that can last into adulthood.