The local collaborative in Union County was formed in the latter half of 1998. The collaborative process was facilitated by the employment of a county coordinator in August of that year. The original coordinator remains employed to this date. During the first year of existence the collaborative sought to become a quasi-governmental agency through the passage of local legislation. The Union County Family Connection Commission was created and approved by the governor during the 1999 legislative session. Union County was the first and only county to date to become a legislated authority during their first year of existence. The Commission submitted a five-year strategic plan in the spring of 1999, then a three-year strategic plan in 2004. The Family Connection Partnership requires counties to submit a strategic plan based on a three-year cycle.
The Union County Family Connection Collaborative is made up of a broad base of community members with representatives from all needed sectors. The collaborative coordinator maintains a mailing list of approximately 100 members. The general collaborative meets once or twice a year with an attendance of 45 – 60 members each meeting. The general meetings are used as a vehicle to inform the community of any new developments or changes to the current strategic plan and to provide information about the success or failure of existing strategies (collaborative report card). The more frequent decision-making process is handled through an executive committee of 25 members. Various committees exist to carry out financial related matters, strategy progress, etc.
The Union County Board of Education accepted the designation of fiscal agent in 1998 and remains in this capacity to date. The board is a strong primary partner to the collaborative resulting in many effective initiatives benefiting children and families. Through this partnership the collaborative and the board employs a coordinator, an adventure based counseling leader, a mentor coordinator and two family advocates. This is made possible by state Family Connection dollars attracting local “match” dollars. The personnel are under the day to day supervision of the collaborative coordinator and are employed under the umbrella of the board. This enables the collaborative and the board to attract and keep qualified employees.