Despite an air of affluence, a growing number of families in Orange County are struggling to get by.

Now, the Orange County Health Department is spearheading a county-wide effort to reach out to families in need.

“The Family Success Alliance is a new endeavor in Orange County modeled after the Harlem’s Children Zone and the East Durham Children’s Initiative,” says Health Director Dr. Colleen Bridger.

A coalition of government agencies along with education and health care advocates is working to build a support network for children living in poverty. Dr Michael Steiner of UNC Hospitals says that’s important because early childhood poverty can have lasting repercussions.

“Challenges in early childhood can result in lifelong impact, including how our brains get built, how ready we are to start school, how we do in school and then what happens to us later on in life as adults,” says Steiner. “So the Family Success Alliance hopes to build a pipeline that will take kids from a successful early childhood through a successful young adult life.”

The Health Department has identified six zones in Orange County with the highest number of residents who are struggling to meet basic needs such as food, housing and access to health care.

By the end of the year, Health Department officials will select two of the six to participate in the Family Success Alliance pilot project. Bridger says a series of community listening sessions will be held now through next week to help detail the needs and strengths of each community.

“The community forums are designed to help the communities come together and learn more about the project and help the zone champion put together an application,” says Bridger.

The identified zones are:
Zone 1 Efland-Cheeks (70 Corridor)
Zone 2 Downtown Hillsborough
Zone 3 85/40 Junction
Zone 4 East of 40
Zone 5 15-501 & 40 (Martin Luther King Corridor)
Zone 6 Chapel Hill/Carrboro (54 and Jones Ferry Road)

Listening session schedules for each zone:

Zone 4: Thursday, November 6, from 6-7pm at New Hope Elementary School, 1900 New Hope Church Rd, Chapel Hill.
Zone 6: Tuesday, November 11, from 6-7pm at Hargraves Community Center, 216 N. Roberson St, Chapel Hill.
Zone 3: Thursday, November 13, from 6-7pm at Grady Brown Elementary School, 1100 New Grady Brown School Rd, Hillsborough.
Zone 5: Thursday, November 13, from 6-7pm at the Chapel Hill Library, 100 Library Drive, Chapel Hill.