While Southern Oregon is one of the emerging regions in the state, it has its challenges—particularly for children and youth. Young people in Jackson/Josephine counties do worse than others in the State measured by teen pregnancy, child abuse/neglect, depression and suicidal tendencies, substance abuse, connection to foster care, childhood poverty, food insecurity, Free & Reduced Lunch eligibility, and teen unemployment. Children are less likely to enroll in early education, students are more likely to be homeless or be referred to Juvenile Justice and less likely to graduate. Residents list mental health and drug abuse as the leading risk factors to a healthy community. The number of youth visiting an emergency room because of a mental health crisis has grown by more than 50% since 2008. Oregon Health Plan patients in Jackson/Josephine counties rank extremely high in asthma, chemical dependency, diabetes, obesity, and tobacco use.
Recognizing the overwhelming nature of these issues, regional leaders initiated Southern Oregon Success in 2012 to improve outcomes for young people in the region. They recognized that years of personal and family trauma touched multiple systems and called for collective action, realizing that no one entity could address these complex issues alone, and a collective impact framework was necessary to achieve meaningful outcomes.
Since 2012, Southern Oregon Success has built organizational participation by aligning with other regional efforts, including College and Career for All, Jefferson Regional Health Alliance, Rogue Workforce Partnership, Southern Oregon Early Learning Hub, and the Southern Oregon Regional Health Equity Coalition, who are represented on the Steering Committee. Steering Committee members represent literally dozens of linked regional collaborative efforts.
As this work continues, we are aware of the need to further develop our collective governance structure and build Trauma Informed Practices (Self-Healing Communities), equity, and community engagement principles as connective tissue across all we do.