The Department of Social Services and Utah's 33 Rotary Clubs have formed a partnership to meet the needs of children in crisis throughout the state.
"The Rotary Club spends money all over the world taking care of kids' problems," said Ron Stevens, chairman of the club's Protect Our Future Committee and superintendent of the Murray School District. "We decided that, for those who want to get involved, there's work to be done in Utah. And we might as well start here."Norm Angus, director of Social Services, has assigned a liaison from the Office of Community Operations district offices to work with each club to establish ways members can meet the needs of children in crisis situations. OCO is the "action arm" of the department and provides service directly to the community.
The program was the brainchild of Utah's Rotary governor, Dr. Ralph Montgomery, a Murray dentist.
"He was very concerned about the problems some of the children face," Stevens said, "and this is what evolved.
"We've identified big areas we'd like to work on: child abuse, day care, the latchkey-type child. We asked ourselves, what can the Rotary do to support the schools so that, as a problem youngster is identified in the early grades, we can help out there?"
The committee has developed a "menu" of activities that Stevens said "runs the gamut."
"If a Rotarian wants to get directly involved, great. Say we identify a family with a handicapped child. A Rotary member and spouse might go babysit twice a month to give the family a break," he said. "Or a Rotarian might serve as a Big Brother or Big Sister to a child.
"Some don't want to be so intimately involved. In that case, we might have them work with a school on programs. We're involved with AT&T right now to see what can be done to improve day care in Utah."
"It's a unique program, I think," Angus said. "But it could make a big difference in young lives."
The program began with the fiscal year, July 1.