Codington County Community Coalition and Facilitating Team
In 2021, the Director East-Central Court Appointed Special Advocate (Terri Mielitz), alongside Watertown School District Social Worker (Andrea Schultz), Lutheran Social Services Kinship Locator (Maria Turbak), and Watertown Area United Way Executive Director (Laura Hoiten), recognized the need for bringing the Resilient Communities: South Dakota framework to Codington County. The Codington County Welfare Office Director (Sara Foust), a Human Service Agency Prevention Specialist (Kelli Rumpza, CPS), and Lake Area Technical College Counselor (Jessi Whetsel, LPC) joined the effort because of their direct involvement with youth and families of Codington County experiencing childhood maltreatment. Multiple team members were already key leaders in other community coalitions sch as Watertown Healthy Youth (WHY), the Interagency group, Suicide Awareness for Everyone (SAFE), and BISCO, a group who publishes the annual Family Resource Directory.
Coalitions are the cornerstones in communities to make wide-spread change around complex issues. By mobilizing key stakeholders, advocating for available resources, and even increasing accessibility to these resources, coalitions can make sustainable change around the issues they address. These groups also often have a long term mindset to identify effective prevention efforts, such as Resilient Communities, to create community-wide support and action. A collective approach by the entire community across sectors can lead to generational change—the true solution to many issues communities face. Every effort made by a coalition or the community to help one target audience or can have a domino effect and impact audiences in the community struggling with very different issues. (IDHS, CPRD Research Brief).
The Resilient Community – Codington County facilitating team is prepared to lead a shared inquiry process to identify underlying complex issues related to childhood maltreatment and help community members across sectors understand the role they can play. Once community stakeholders are aware and engaged, the community as a whole can create a share action plan to prevent further child maltreatment. Through advocacy and training, Codington County will become better equipped to respond to childhood maltreatment and can increase their shared capacity to work together to increase prevention efforts and continually advocate for our community’s youth and families.
Resilient Communities: South Dakota is an extension of the SD ACES & Resiliency Program, a partnership between The Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment (CPCM) and the SD Children’s Home Society (CHS). Facilitated by a local team and supported by a CPCM Navigator, Resilient Communities is a process that help all community sectors collaboratively identify local strengths and opportunities to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences. Please reach out to one of the Codington County facilitating team members if you or your organization would like to be involved in this community capacity-building process.