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Cross takes new position with county

LynAnne Vucovich • Jan 26, 2020 at 6:00 PM

NORWALK — Niki Cross will be leaving Norwalk’s parks and recreation department to serve the community with Family and Children First Council (FCF) of Huron County.

FCF coordinates public services for families and youths with multiple needs. The council consists of department heads or representatives and child-serving public organizations and other services in the county.

Cross will begin her first day as the FCF director Feb. 3.

The council previously was under the direction of a coordinator, but it recently created the director position. It will oversee the council and help with prevention efforts in Huron County.

“With the council itself, we have representatives from all over the county that work with families to provide services,” Cross said.

“Then everyone comes together and there’s a decreased chance of duplicating services because we’re able to all sit at one table and discuss some of the needs of families and how we can work together collaboratively to bring the most good to the most families in Huron County.”

Cross said the agencies represented in the council are the Huron County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Fisher-Titus Medical Center, Help Me Grow, Board of Developmental Disabilities, Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services, Huron County children and department of jobs and family (JFS) services. There are also parent advocates that serve on the council.

Cross plans to still collaborate with the parks and recreation department with projects for families.

“There’s been so many opportunities to do great things with the department,” she said. “Park and rec is such a big part of most people’s lives and I think that is (going to be the) part that is hard — to leave is the families and the kids that I’ve worked with over the years.”

Cross spent 19 years with the parks department and started multiple programs for the community. She created an after-school program and built up Friday Fun Nights, which has reached more than 200 children.

During Family First Night this year, the park’s New Year’s Eve event, 550-plus people attended.

“We absolutely love the programs where we’re reaching out to families,” Cross said.

FCF is housed at JFS, its administrative agency, as required by the state.

Part of Cross’s responsibilities at FCF will be centered around prevention.

“The idea is to be able to connect all resources in the county to come up with a plan for prevention efforts,” she said. “My goal is to bring organizations together to be able to combat the issues in the area and to create programs together.”

She also will try to build up the coalition through the council and “identify where the greatest needs are in the community.” Cross said she will create programs and services that provide the greatest good for the families in the county.

“We have an amazing county that has so many services that are provided but a lot of people don’t know about it,” she added. “There’s a lot of ideas that I have to create a website so that people have a resource they can go to.”

Cross said she hopes to continue working with the same organizations she did before, just in a different setting.

“We are all still serving the same families and have the same mission,” Cross said. “I’m thankful that I’m staying in the area and can still reach out to those organizations and individuals that were such a big part with my time at park and rec.”

She said she has been “completely overwhelmed” with support from the community and wanted to thank all the organizations who helped her over the years.

“I can’t get over how amazing this community has been,” Cross said.

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