Weather Forecast


PACT for Families expands to McLeod Co. and gets new name

WILLMAR -- A fifth county is joining a local collaborative that has been helping children and families access services since 1993.

Based in Willmar, PACT 4 Families Collaborative has been a vital resource in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Ren-ville and Yellow Medicine counties.

Starting Jan. 1, McLeod County will become a member of the unique organization that will include social services, public health and corrections from each of the five counties, along with 19 school districts, three private schools, three charter schools, at least four mental health provider groups and numerous other nonprofit and for-profit child and family services organizations.

"In a time when collaboratives and services for those in need are shrinking or going away all together, this is a tremendous step forward for the counties involved," said Debb Sheehan, director of PACT for Families, in a news release issued Tuesday.

The five counties have been working together for the past year to iron out details of the partnership.

Earlier this month, the county boards of commissioners from the five counties approved the revised joint powers agreement, "embracing this larger regional entity," said Sheehan.

Because of the new addition, the name of the collaborative will be changed slightly.

Instead of PACT 4, which referred to the number of counties in the collaborative, it will be called PACT for Families. PACT stands for Putting All Communities Together.

Sheehan said the five counties will work to "change systems to be more prevention focused and family friendly."

By working hand in hand with parents and professionals, the collaborative will continue to fill gaps in services and reduce duplication of services, she said.

Since 1993, the collaborative has secured $27.3 million in state and federal grants to support initiatives for safe schools, healthy students, chemical prevention efforts, mental health services for very young children and after- school programs.

The collaborative has also received two large grants for changing the way mental health and related services are administered to children, families and youth in transition.

-- Carolyn Lange