Services offered by the SUN Community Schools program will be scrutinized by a task force organized by Multnomah County Chair-elect Ted Wheeler.
SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) Community Schools are a key element of the county's network of health and human services delivered to children and families and offered at 55 area schools. The county also has formed partnerships with other government agencies, local nonprofit agencies and the business community to offer programs.
The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners last spring reduced funding for SUN Community Schools and theit services. The board also called for the creation of a task force to address what services could be provided for school-aged youth and how families can receive them.
Wheeler, who will become the county chair in January, is asking the task force he is organizing to report to county board in February.
Current county Chair Diane Linn said the success of the SUN Community Schools program was due to the "passion and dedication" of those who run the program and its volunteers. She said the task force's review would be "of great benefit to our community."
Noting that the SUN program enjoys community support, Wheeler said the task force would "take an honest look at all aspects of the program to make sure that it is delivering its full potential."
"This effort will identify specific ways that the SUN program can live up to its promise of being a cost-effective and integrated model for delivering county and other services to the community," Wheeler added.
Task force representatives include those who provide services to schools, and representatives from education, business, nonprofits organizations, social services, advocacy groups and local governments. The group will meet once a month through January.
The task force will review the services provided by SUN Community Schools in relation to services offered by other agencies for school-age youth; determine the county's role in providing those services; recommend which services should be maintained and how the county can work with other organizations; and identify possible funding sources.
A Web site, currently under development, will share information about the task force and serve to gather public feedback about the programs under review.
"I look forward to the work and results of this task force," said Multnomah County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey. "As we continue to make difficult budget decisions for the county, this effort will help ensure we're making the right choices for our children and the community."