The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department accomplishes its work in public health through a variety of mechanisms, not the least of which is community collaboration.
One of the department’s best collaborators is the Butte 4-C’s, a non-profit regional resource whose focus centers on young children and their families.
Because the Health Department also houses several programs focused on young children and families, the two agencies collaborate frequently as we work to carry out our missions. It’s been a very good marriage.
The 4-C’s is renowned locally, but also regionally and statewide for its collaboration and leadership. A Bozeman professional recently in Butte to assist the Health Department in a strategic planning process commented that Butte is acknowledged statewide for its leadership on early childhood issues.
The Butte 4-C’s and its executive director, Brenda Hergott, are a big reason why.
One of the agency’s guiding principles is particularly telling: “When judgment calls are required,” states the principle, “Butte 4-C’s advocates for the child.”
Founded in June 1974, the 4-C’s — the C’s stand for Community Coordinated Child Care — certainly works within the realm of child care. But under Hergott’s leadership, the agency has grown from that original focus to feature almost 30 programs.
Hergott recently presented on her agency to the Butte Community Action Team. Following her presentation, CAT members, including Butte School District No. 1 Curriculum Director Jim O’Neill, were awed by the agency’s expanse and impact. “I had no idea,” O’Neill said, as he brainstormed on how to get Hergott before School District staff whose students could benefit from her services.
The 4-C’s mission of child care remains core to its operations. Those establishing a child care business can look to the 4-C’s for technical assistance and on-site support, along with professional development and continuing education. The 4-C’s facilitates the Stars to Quality program, a system that rates early childhood programs based on quality, and provides incentives for good outcomes. The 4-C’s also facilitates the Child & Adult Care Food Program, which provides reimbursement and training to child care providers for serving nutritious meals to children.
Those looking for quality child care can also consult with the 4-C’s. The agency provides information on how to choose quality child care, and makes quality-assured referrals. Those needing assistance to pay for child care can apply for the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship, funded by the state and administered by the 4-C’s.
The 4-C’s also facilitates support groups, including the Circle of Parents, comprised of parents of children with disabilities and/or mental health needs. Also facilitated is the self-explanatory support group, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
In partnership with United Way of Butte and Anaconda, the 4-C’s also features a six-week parenting class. Because of a United Way grant, the class is free to participants.
For families with custody issues, or whose children were removed from the home by court order, or for families with established safety concerns, the 4-C’s s provides professional supervised visitation. The supervised visits can be customized to meet each family’s needs. The program serves families with children of any age, and the visits take place in a safe and family-friendly environment. Intake appointments are $25 per parent; supervised visits are $35 an hour.
The 4-C’s is also an integral part of the local Healthy Families Network, which features three evidence-based home visiting programs in Butte. These include the Nurse Family Partnership at the Health Department, the Parents As Teachers program at the Health Department and AWARE, Inc., and the SafeCare program at the 4-C’s and AWARE. These programs send highly trained people into homes to, among other things, assist first-time moms, help with school readiness, or ensure that a home is safe.
The 4-C’s also facilitates the Butte Community Council, which is the city’s state-sanctioned early childhood coalition. The BCC works to meet the social, emotional and mental health needs of young children and families through high-quality early childhood programs, and easy access to primary care and health insurance. The BCC’s projects have included the Continue Your Story suicide prevention campaign (https://projectsemicolon.com/); the facilitation of the city’s Children’s Mental Health Committee; screenings of incoming kindergarten students; and provision of backpacks filled with information for families of newborns.
And in a partnership with Montana’s Headwaters Foundation, the BCC recently received a Zero to Five Initiative grant (https://www.zerotofive.org/) that will allow the committee and the 4-C’s to focus on parenting initiatives in the coming years.
Oh, and the 4-C’s provides notary and fingerprinting services.
The Butte 4-C’s is one of those agencies that never seeks the recognition they deserve. They just work quietly, day in, day out, to make communities better, especially for our children.
That meets my definition of heroism. What good people.