OCPC received its 501(c)3 tax exempt status in June 1999, primarily to administer funding from Smart Start, a statewide effort to leverage community dollars to better serve young children and their families. Over time, OCPC has significantly diversified its portfolio, becoming a magnet for community efforts related to children and families, and a voice for quality of life issues related to the County as a whole. For example, in 2001, OCPC launched the “State of the Child” Breakfast to bring together elected officials, military officials, business leaders and community members to renew a commitment to and sense of accountability for ensuring the healthy development of all children in the County. The Breakfast continues to be an important event on the community calendar.
In 2002, OCPC convened more than 30 community agencies/organizations to facilitate the first community wide strategic plan for children and families of Onslow County. As a result of the plan, a quarterly training is now held for all newly hired human service professionals in the county to orient them to community resources for families.
In recognition of our community’s large population of military families, in 2003, OCPC participated in the development and implementation of Project Community Action Readiness Effort (CARE) in response to Operation Iraqi Freedom and the deployment of many Onslow County residents.
A watershed moment for OCPC was the convening, in 2005, of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to establish a Child Advocacy Center to serve Onslow County and surrounding areas. Child advocacy centers bring together all services for children who have suffered physical or sexual abuse together, eliminating travel and time burdens for families, human service and law enforcement personnel, and creating opportunities for efficient and timely prosecution of perpetrators. Our state-of-the-art program has been recognized for its work, and we receive frequent testimonials from law enforcement and other professionals about the positive impact of CAC on the community.
During the same year, OCPC developed and activated the Emergency Child Care Plan for Essential Personnel in response to Hurricane Ophelia. The plan, the first of its kind in the country, provided specialized training to qualified licensed child care providers and connected essential personnel to providers who committed to remaining open during the preparation and recovery phases of natural disasters for which evacuation is not necessary.
More recently, OCPC was invited to testify before the Administration of Children and Families in Washington, DC, and was acknowledged as an “Early Learning Community,” its highest designation. OCPC was also awarded a substantial grant through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC to serve as one of four regional “hubs” in a project targeted at the prevention of childhood obesity. The Partnership recently received another large grant through the state’s Division for Public Health to serve pregnant and parenting teens and women, ages 13-24.
OCPC continues to develop and implement projects that address pressing community needs. With a strong infrastructure in place, and a finger on the pulse of the community, OCPC can respond quickly and competently to the challenges facing Onslow County.