Northwest Colorado Council for Children and Families changes name to Connections 4 Kids |

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Northwest Colorado Council for Children and Families changes name to Connections 4 Kids

The organization formerly known as Northwest Colorado Council for Children and Families rolled out a new name and logo during its Tuesday board meeting.

The group is now called Connections 4 Kids.

Coordinator Barb West said the reason for the name change is simple.

"'Connections 4 Kids' kind of says what we do," West said. "'Northwest Colorado Council for Children and Families' really didn't.

"We're trying to brand and market so people can identify what we do."

The group's mission is to strengthen resources and services for children ages 8 and younger, and their families.

"All children and families in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties (should) have quality early childhood services and nurturing environments in which to thrive," according to the group's mission statement.

Board member Corrie Ponikvar said Connections 4 Kids receives operational funding from the Colorado Department of Education. The organization's board is comprised of representatives from area health clinics, schools and social services.

Together, the board members identify gaps in services within Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, Ponikvar said. Once gaps are identified, Connections 4 Kids works with existing entities to improve those services.

The group's four areas of focus are education, family support, mental health and health, Ponikvar said.

To fund improvements, West said Connections 4 Kids applies for grants from foundations like the Colorado Health Foundation.

West said so far the 2-year-old group has focused mainly on "building the council."

However, the group's first big project will soon come to fruition.

"We are in the process of launching 'Cavity-Free at 3,'" West said. "We're hoping to launch that in January, we're waiting on funding. That will bring teeth varnishing to children (ages) zero to 3."

Teeth varnishing is a procedure in which teeth are coated to prevent decay.

In addition to securing funding for the project, Ponikvar said Connections 4 Kids plans to teach area healthcare providers how to perform the procedure.

"We'll educate the providers," Ponikvar said. "Instead of looking past the teeth toward the tonsils, providers will perform an assessment on the teeth."

West said the teeth varnishing can also provide opportunities for health providers to discuss dental hygiene with parents.

"It's more about parent education than it is about the varnish, but it's the varnish that brings them," West said.

Board member Marie Peer, of the Moffat County Department of Social Services, said childcare may be an area of focus in the group's future.

"Some of the gaps I see are infant childcare," Peer said. "I think night and evening childcare is a gap."

West said members of the group avoid the term "daycare."

"'Daycare' implies care for the day," she said. "'Childcare' implies care for the child."