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Ventura County Perspective

City Shows It's All in the Family

September 28, 1997

Even before a nationwide survey recently spotlighted Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley as two of America's best places to raise children, that fact was no secret. Programs and facilities for young people and support networks for parents abound in those areas.

But that doesn't mean all needs are met.

Thus Thousand Oaks City Manager Grant Brimhall suggested a forum of all the agencies in his city that deal with families in one way or another. Mayor Judy Lazar and Supervisor Frank Schillo took the hint and brought together about 40 people for an evening of brainstorming and networking.

By the end of the session, better ways to communicate and coordinate had been envisioned and steps toward implementing them had actually begun.

"It was testimony to the very caring nature and the extraordinary resources we have in our community. There's a lot of love there," said Brimhall, a proud father and grandfather himself. "We spend an enormous amount of time organizing our businesses, our service clubs and all of our other activities and far too little time organizing our families to make them more successful, and I think that's sad."

Most communities in Ventura County have numerous agencies working in various ways to help parents be better parents, kids be better kids, spouses be better spouses and families be better families. Too often, poor communication and a lack of networking keep those important support systems from functioning as efficiently as they could.

The family forum in Thousand Oaks didn't cost much, but it reinforced those support systems by strengthening their human connections. Other communities should give it a try.

Solid, supportive families are the foundation for all our institutions. There is no better way for any community to improve its schools, its crime rate, its citizenship and its overall quality of life than to help families do the best they can.

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