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Public forums look at service statistics
Cayuga County

Public forums look at service statistics

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AUBURN | Social programs and services in Cayuga County are a numbers game.

Community leaders and residents gathered Monday at the BOCES campus to discuss how to better coordinate programs and direct funding among Cayuga County's service organizations.

Small work groups formed by the attendees dove into statistical data complied in the six target areas of children and youth, economic factors, education factors, financial self sufficiency, health and safety and housing.

The data was collected last year by the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester as part of a survey organized by the United Way of Cayuga County.

The survey data showed trends in 70 indicators, including median income rates, high school dropout rates, access to public transportation, smoking rates, poverty and other society health measures in Cayuga and Seneca counties.

"When we're looking at this information, we need to ask 'What does this info tell us about ourselves and what can we use to better serve the community?'" Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce Director Andrew Fish asked the attendees."

The suggestions gathered during this week's public forums, along with others solicited from local organizations, will be used to better direct United Way's funding distribution committee.

After conferring with her group, Chamber of Commerce education and resource coordinator Ginny Kent, said it's clear that some of the problem areas identified by the survey are related.

"Not having transportation funding for early childhood programming could contribute to some of these other education factors," Kent said. "You could have a great program, but if you can't get the child to that program, it's going to be a big problem."

Others wanted data to learn which local programs are effective, instead of only highlighting the negative figures.

"Where's the good stuff?" Auburn Planning Department Executive Director Jennifer Haines asked. "There aren't any indicators to show the cool stuff, the stuff that we're doing right."

A second session on Wednesday will afford members of the public one more opportunity to voice their opinions before the organizations develop a programming and funding plan.

Staff writer Nathan Baker can be reached at 282-2238 or nathan.baker@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenBaker.

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