First Things First

The mission of First Things First is to address system gaps and to identify improvements needed to ensure young children in Summit County have the greatest opportunity for positive physical and mental health, early learning, and developmental outcomes, and to ensure families have access to needed support services. 

What is First Things First?
First Things First (FTF) is Summit County’s comprehensive early childhood development project which strives to address system gaps and to identify improvements needed to promote the development and overall well-being of Summit County’s children. The goal of First Things First is to broaden the efforts that currently exist by expanding their scope and expanding their focus to be more comprehensive. The collaboration supports partnerships and communication with service providers, and focuses on broad recommendations that can be adapted to meet local needs.  There are over 50 public and private organizations involved in this collaborative locally.

What are specific components of FTF?
Locally, there are 6 committees that comprise FTF: Early Care and Education committee, Family Supports, Health, Special Needs and Early Intervention, Behavioral Health, and Summit County Maternal Depression Network.   These committees are chaired by local staff members from the partnering agencies.  Each committee has a focus area with goals to address components related to Early Childhood as well as indicators to measure the goals for each committee.

There are two major events organized in collaboration with FTF. Summit Kids Month is a month-long focus on the importance of early childhood education, screening, and health and wellness where there are corresponding activities sponsored throughout the county. Summit For Kids is an annual expo designed for families with children of school-age that fun and educational activities, free back-to-school supplies, and gain new information regarding the programs and services Summit County has to offer.

For more information about First Things First, please visit 

Help Me Grow/Early Intervention

Mission: The mission of Early Intervention is to build upon and provide supports and resources to assist family members and caregivers to enhance children’s learning and development through everyday learning opportunities.  

What is Early Intervention? Ohio’s Part C/Early Intervention system (EI) aims to identify and serve children under the age of three with developmental delays and disabilities, as provided for under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Locally, Help Me Grow programs communicate with parents, doctors, hospitals, child care providers and other community agencies to identify children with existing developmental delays, or those with medical diagnoses with a high probability of delay.  

Who is the target population? For children 0-3 years old that require intervention, individualized services are provided to the child and family through a Service Coordinator who guides the family through every aspect of the process, from program entry until the child transitions out by age three.  Locally, there are two agencies (Akron Children’s Hospital and Community Health Center) that are funded to provide service coordination for EI.  Summit County Public Health (SCPH) is the designated fiscal and administrative agent that provides oversight to the program and the subcontracting agencies.  SCPH works in partnership with Summit DD who provides a majority of the direct intervention services for these families in the county.  

How is it funded? Early Intervention is funded by federal dollars that are funneled through the Ohio Department of Health to local FCFCs.

Ohio Children's Trust Fund

Mission: The mission of the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund (OCTF) is to prevent child abuse and neglect through investing in strong communities, healthy families and safe children.

What is OCTF?

The Ohio Children's Trust Fund was created in Ohio law in 1984. OCTF funds primary and secondary prevention strategies that are conducted at the local level and activities and projects of a statewide significance designed to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. Locally, the OCTF in Summit County is comprised of 6 members who provide oversight to agencies that receive OCTF dollars to prevent child abuse and neglect.  In Summit County, the OCTF funding has been able to award 2-3 grants locally that provide primary and secondary prevention programming.  In addition, local OCTF dollars fund the evaluation of these programs to track outcomes of these projects. 

Who is funded locally?
Currently, OCTF has funded two agencies: Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) and Greenleaf Family Center’s Teenage Parent Program (TPP).  The total funding received from OCTF for Fiscal Year 2016 is  approximately $165,000.

For more information about OCTF, please visit

System of Care

Purpose: The purpose of System of Care (SOC) is to maintain children and youth in their own homes through the provision of non-clinical, community-based services.   

What is SOC? System of Care (SOC) is a Family Centered Services and Support (FCSS) initiative through the Ohio Family and Children’s First (OFCF) Cabinet Council. SOC model is an organizational philosophy and framework that involves collaboration across agencies, families and youth for the purpose of improving access and expanding the array of coordination, community-based, culturally and linguistically competent services and supports for children and youth with a serious emotional disturbance and their families.   Locally, families who have children with multiple systemic needs identified through the Summit County FCFC service coordination process are eligible for FCSS funded services and supports.  SOC focuses on maintaining children and youth in their homes and communities by providing non-clinical family-centered services and supports.

Who is the target population? The target population is youth ages birth-21 years with multi-systemic needs.  

How is SOC funded? Funding for SOC is funneled to local FCFCs from the State of Ohio FCFC.  The total amount of funding for Fiscal Year 2015 in Summit County is approximately $128,000.

Summit County Cluster for Youth

Purpose: The purpose of Summit Cluster for Youth (SCY) is to provide youth serving agencies in Summit County with a capacity to jointly resolve problems associated with the delivery of service to youth who exhibit more than one emotional, physical, or developmental difficulty and thus require the services of more than one system.

What is Summit Cluster for Youth? SCY was created by Executive Order of the Governor in 1984 and by state statue in 1987. Locally, Summit Cluster for Youth (SCY) is a standing committee of the Family and Children First Council of Summit County and is comprised of 14 child/family serving agencies in Summit County. Summit County has continued to embrace this model despite the removal of the mandate for this program and agree to maintain the program as a standing committee of FCFC. SCY ensures the delivery of appropriate and adequate services to children and families with multiple needs and are involved in multiple systems.

Who is the target population? The target population are children and youth 0-21 years of age with multiple needs and multi-system involvement.

How is Cluster Funded? SCY is funded by the public systems in Summit County who support a shared pool of funding. There are also state dollars that are funneled into FCFC to support the coordination of services as well as residential treatment for the youth.

ENGAGE: Engaging the New Generation to Achieve their Goals through Empowerment

Purpose: ENGAGE’s mission is to develop a statewide system of care framework that coordinates and adapts policy, fiscal, and administrative actions to support the transition of Ohio’s youth and young adults in transition.

What is ENGAGE? Summit County is one of 26 counties to develop a system of care for youth with serious emotional disturbances including co-occurring disorders and those with multi-system needs. Locally, there have been 16 individuals trained in Summit County to provide High fidelity wrap services, an evidenced based model to address this population. ENGAGE seeks to provide train the trainer sessions and technical assistance to local providers.

Who is the Target Population? The target population is youth 14-21 years of age with serious emotional disturbances or serious mental illness including co-occurring disorders and multi-system needs.

How is it funded? The program is funded by Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS) who received a federal grant from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA).

Youth Risk Behavior Survey

The YRBS provides data on health-risk behaviors for students in the United States, including behaviors that contribute to injuries and violence; alcohol or other drug use; tobacco use; sexual risk behaviors; unhealthy dietary behaviors; and physical inactivity. The YRBS also measured the prevalence of obesity and asthma among youth and young adults.

In addition to the identification of risk factors, the survey also measures protective factors, such as belonging to positive peer groups, participating in extracurricular activities and having adults in their life they can go to for help. These types of factors serve to protect or provide a buffer to moderate risk factors and can decrease the likelihood of negative outcomes including substance abuse, delinquency, violence, and school dropout. (Arthur, Hawkins, et al., 1994, Hawkins, Catalano, Miller, 1992).

The Summit County surveys took place between October 2013 and January 2014 and were administered to students in 7th through 12th grades. A total of 12,548 High School students (81.7%) and 6,790 (84.6%) Middle School students in Summit County public schools completed the survey.