THRIVE — Zero to five in Freeborn County

Published 8:41 am Friday, August 8, 2008

Mores than 60 community members have joined together to become the THRIVE Action Team. What is the THRIVE Initiative? It is a statewide initiative promoting the healthy social emotional development of our youngest children. Freeborn County Family Services Collaborative is fortunate to have been chosen as one of only six sites in the state to host and be a pilot site for the THRIVE Initiative. The other sites throughout the state are Bemidji-Blackduck-Kelliher, Duluth-Hermantown-Proctor, Pope County, Greater St. Cloud Area, and McLeod County. Our site comes to us through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. This three year initiative began in January 2007. The overarching goal of THRIVE is to create a seamless system or network of local services that support the healthy social and emotional development of our youngest children. In order to do that you need to have many players at the table, which we are fortunate to have. Since the beginning of the initiative we have gathered information, mapped available services, and held community forums for learning and discussion. Since then we have been strategically planning to use what we have discovered to devise a unique network of services appropriate to Freeborn County.

Our mission statement is to promote healthy social and emotional development and mental health in children from prenatal to kindergarten entrance by providing family support and education through community-wide collaboration and networking.

We have four priority areas. Each priority area has a subcommittee/task force working to implement strategies focusing on their priority area:

Email newsletter signup

1) Increase the understanding, education and awareness of infant and early childhood mental health

2) Increase infant and early childhood mental health professional services

3) Increase access and remove barriers to infant and early childhood mental health services

4) Increase community commitment and funding for infant and early childhood mental health

Infant and early childhood mental health is synonymous with healthy social and emotional development. It is the capacity of the child from birth to age 5 to experience, regulate, and express emotions; to form close and secure interpersonal relationships; and to explore the environment and learn.

Our THRIVE Initiative has been given grant dollars from the Bush Foundation and others to accomplish our goals. Our Action Team is the leader in this process, and the Action Team decides how the grant dollars are used locally. So far, we have launched a media campaign including a billboard, radio interviews, Web site ( and now this our first in series of monthly newspaper columns. We have also voted to fund a part-time position focused on prevention, providing connections to local resources for education and promotion of healthy mental health as well as continue to facilitate the continuation of all projects after the grant period ends in December 2009.

Our county is fortunate to have many resources available for children ages 0 to 5 and for those who care for them.

We want to connect parents and caregivers to these resources and help them create an environment and relationships that provide an optimal situation to nurture healthy mental health. Throughout this monthly series of columns, we will keep you updated on our progress as we work with the other THRIVE sites across the state. We will also be providing tips and interesting information that you can use when interacting with the 0 to 5 little one in your world.

Alice Englin is the Action Team Manager for the Freeborn County Minnesota Thrive Initiative promoting the healthy social and emotional development of Freeborn County’s youngest children.