Reimagine Addison County, an initiative coordinated by UWAC, interviewed individuals from businesses, nonprofits, and more to learn about the strategies, adaptations, and creative and resourceful work being developed that is leading the way and enhancing the well-being and future of Addison County. Here we feature our discussion with Donna Bailey, Director of the Addison County Parent Child Center (ACPCC). ACPCC works with families, adolescents, and children and offers therapeutic childcare, pregnancy prevention programs, home visiting and outreach, transitional housing services, job readiness training, and more. The goals of ACPCC include helping young families achieve self-sufficiency, guiding adolescents in making responsible decisions about family life, and working cooperatively with other agencies to strengthen the community for everyone.
The Gifts we get Every Day
Donna talked with us about the many strengths of ACPCC and the families they serve, calling their participants “the gifts we get every day.” She praised the staff as thoughtful, empathetic, and well-trained professionals who successfully build relationships and community with young children and their parents, grandparents, and foster parents.
Donna said one of the biggest challenges at the height of the pandemic was pivoting from an exclusive focus on the needs of participants to also intensively focusing on the health and well-being of her staff. She suddenly needed to consider everyone’s safety and security and give energy to that. As she told us,
“All the things we’ve worked on for years with the families we help—life and death and sickness—we still had to do that of course, but all the sudden those issues were real for our staff, too. The angst, fear, and uncertainty about what’s coming next with the pandemic and how it would impact us was tough. We realized that we really had to take care of each other at least as much as we take care of the families we work with.”
- Donna Bailey, ACPCC
Donna and her staff made numerous adjustments during the past two years; they moved many services to a tent outside for their therapeutic childcare services. They made the childcare ‘nature-based’ which meant they needed to get outdoor, cold-weather-ready gear for everyone—from staff to children and their families so they could provide services outside throughout the winter. ACPCC also put together and distributed food boxes to families, and Donna said she started to see skills in her staff that she hadn’t seen before. Their organizational and management abilities came through, and these positive, unintended consequences helped build relationships and fortify ACPCC.
For Donna and her staff, working at ACPCC is not just a box to check off on a resumé; they deeply care about other people day in and out:
“What is most empowering is that we keep bringing ourselves forward, even in our own fear, even in our need to be home with our own kids. We’ve done years of modeling behavior and we’re learning together. I think we dug into that at a level we weren’t even aware of until now. Feeling empowered in your own work and having a voice is important. How can you help families navigate systems unless you can navigate them yourself? We’ve been talking about that for years, but with the pandemic, we really lived it. It wasn’t easy, but as a staff and as an organization, we’re moving through it and moving forward.”
- Donna Bailey, ACPCC
Hear more from our conversation with Donna:
For More Information:
UWAC Policy Priority: Childcare
Addison County Parent Child Center