Outreach and Child Support Projects Highlighted at Foundation Dinner

Debra Johnson, project manager for the Outreach Program,
Sheryl Maines, project manager for the Child Support Project,
with Katie Milo, Journalism, director of the projects. (photo KM)
Katie Milo, chair of the Journalism Department, and two projects that she directs, the Child Support Project and the Outreach Project, were highlighted at the University Foundation's dinner to honor grant writers and recipients on January 22. The projects provide professional communication expertise to the California Department of Social Services and to individual counties.

Milo said of the projects, "The strategic planing and communication design work allows me to bring real-life examples to my teaching that stimulate productive student discussions. With this kind of professional activity, there's certainly great opportunity for me to remain current in my discipline."

Debra Johnson, a Chico graduate and project manager for the Outreach Project, has been with the program since it began in 1996. The Outreach Project is part of CalWORK's Family Planning Information Project, whose mission is "to ensure that everyone on cash aid in the state of California is aware of the availability of free family planning services and knows how to access those services," said Johnson.

From its start with informational brochures distributed by welfare workers and a $400,000 budget, the project has expanded to the planning, design, production, and distribution of family planning services, information, and a million dollar budget.

Two current projects are county-specific listings of family planning information resources and a series of video vignettes on family planning options. The local-resource brochure lists available free services such as birth control and breast cancer screening and service locations. All information is verified and will be updated twice a year.

Sheryl Maines, another Chico graduate and the project manager of the Child Support Project, has been with the project since 1994. It began in 1993 as a small six-month project to develop curriculum on parental respon-sibility and has expanded to a $195,000 project for the CDSS Office of Child Support. The project provides outreach materials and services for the family support divisions in all California counties.

The curriculum project includes written materials, activities, and a video. What Kind of Parent Will You Be? Think About It explores the fiscal and emotional responsibilities of parent-ing and is currently used by the California Youth Authority, many California schools, and has been requested and used by other states. The overwhelmingly positive response creates a continuing stack of orders awaiting Maines's attention.

The Child Support Project provides three different newsletters for child support workers: the CSE Network Newsletter for family support staff and child advocates; the FSD Outreach Connection for county Outreach coordinators; and POP Perspectives for organizations involved in the Paternity Opportunity Program.

The project focus is parental responsibility. Maines emphasizes how important it is for parents, especially dads who do not live with their children, to be involved emotionally and financially. In the last couple of years the project has teamed up with the Oakland Raiders in the responsible-fatherhood media campaign emphasizing "fatherhood is a responsibility every dad can tackle."

Johnson and Maines are assisted by Stephanie Chin and Claudine Payne. All four women are Chico graduates who share an enthusiasm for and commitment to providing information services that make a difference in people's lives. "The social service nature of these projects is a strong motivator for our project staff—we know we're providing valuable information to the public," said Milo.

Check out the Child Support Project's Web page (http://www.childsup.cahwnet.gov) for more child support news and information.


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