Jenkins County is a small, rural county within the state of Georgia. Many people from other parts of Georgia have a hard time conceiving of what it's like living in a community with only about 8,500 people. We usually describe it as "Mayberry" with all of the social problems.


Although there are many disadvantages to living in a small town, for some of its citizens, it is hard to imagine living anywhere else. There is a lot to be said for living in a community where people still wave when you meet them in the street and where people still maintain a feeling of security in a world full of much insecurity.


Our community is small but is beginning to show a "big heart". During the past three years, we have received much support for our efforts among the leaders of the community and many years things were "depressed" in out town and people talked of how "things never change". Since the formation of the Jenkins County Family Enrichment Center, things have begun to change and people are excited about what might happen in the future. Change is indeed good, and we have found it to be a positive motivator to enable our community to learn to help itself with assistance from our state partners such as Family Connection, Communities in Schools of Georgia, and the Georgia Council on Child Abuse.


There is still much work to be done, however, it is encouraging to look back on the progress that has been made and realize that this has only been possible because we are working together as a team to build something worthwhile for the children and families of Jenkins County. The Jenkins County Family Enrichment Center is an umbrella community collaborative. It is legal 501(c) (3) and is recognized as the authority on child and family issues in Jenkins County. The task of this Center is to coordinate the collaboration or all the agencies, schools, care providers, churches, businesses, local governments, parents and private citizens whose purpose is to improve the quality of life for all children, youth and families of Jenkins County. Much work has been accomplished since Jenkins County first began to hear the work, "collaboration". The process of learning to share, exchange, and communicate has not always been an easy one. It has, however, been a worthwhile one for our community. We have learned that things sometimes move slowly, but that taking those baby steps will eventually lead to long journeys if we continue to look forward with each new step.


We are looking forward to adopting the Community Partnership for Protecting Children concept of a community taking care of its own. It is exciting to see the possibility of families receiving services before children are abused and families participating in their own action plans before reports are made to DFCS. We believe we have a great infrastructure and foundation to begin this project in our community. Adopting the CPPC concept in our community will mean new and expanded resources for families in our community. This is especially important in a community such as Jenkins where we are small, poor, and very rural.


The Jenkins County Family Enrichment Center first developed a five-year comprehensive plan for the Millen/Jenkins County community in 1997. This plan was revised during the past five years, but our focus remained on two main goals: Prevention of child abuse and neglect and increasing high school graduation rates. The original five-year comprehensive plan is a culmination of the work of this collaborative over the past five years. We have met, planned, organized, implemented, publicized, begged, presented, supervised, scavenged, met again, planned again, organized again, and so on.


The one thing we have learned above all other things is that this will never be a process where we can finally say, "We have arrived". There will always be the challenge of having to improve, revamp, fund, or just start over. We believe that this newly developed five-year plan is sound because we are working to refine, expand and strengthen what we have already begun to plan and implement. Many programs tend to "follow the funding" instead of looking for funding that fits their overall plan. It is our intent to build a collaborative infrastructure that will not be required to "chase after dollars". We have often compared our community collaborative to being much like a jig saw puzzle that require thought, patience, and vision of what the whole thing will look like when all the pieces are put in place.