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Family & Youth Subcommittee (Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee)

 Family and Youth Subcommittee (Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee)

Lineage and Purpose

The La Crosse Community Collaboration

The Family and Youth Subcommittee (Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee) is a subcommittee of the La Crosse Community Collaboration, which is a partnership between three local governmental entities:  (1) The School District of La Crosse, (2) the City of La Crosse and (3) La Crosse County.  The Collaboration, which began in 2005, has a meeting once per quarter which is chaired jointly by the School District of La Crosse Superintendent, the Mayor of the City of La Crosse, and the La Crosse County Administrator.  Participants include Department Heads / Managers from those three organizations in the functional areas listed below.  All members of this larger group are part of subcommittees which align to the functional areas.

  • Planning
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
  • Buildings and Ground
  • Family and Youth Services
  • Purchasing

The stated mission of the Community Collaboration is, “To strengthen collaboration and improve communication between our organizations.”  The subcommittees are charged with carrying out this within each functional area.

At each quarterly meeting, all subcommittees provider a verbal report on their activities over the last quarter and any forthcoming subcommittee activities of note.

The Family and Youth Services Subcommittee

In 2011, the Family and Youth Subcommittee adopted a conceptual framework outlined in Howard S. Adelman and Linda Taylor’s book, “Rebuilding for Learning,” to advance the mission of strengthening collaboration and improving communication within the family and youth services area.  In adopting this framework, the subcommittee began to refer to itself as the “Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee.”  The descriptive term “Rebuilding for Learning Initiative” now refers to the subcommittee’s activities.

Under the new framework, the RBL Steering Committee adopted the goal of ensuring all children have the opportunity to succeed by addressing barriers students face that prevent them from coming into the classroom “ready to learn.”  Examples of these barriers, stemming from challenges faced by either the child or the child’s parents, include:  (a) a mental health issue; (b) a substance abuse issue; (c) and abusive or neglectful parent; (d) a lack of basic needs; (e) behaviors which disrupt the classroom and put the child at risk of entering the criminal justice system either as a youth or later as an adult.

To address these barriers, the RBL Steering Committee adopted Adelman and Taylor’s strategy of working towards creating more integrated and seamless systems across three levels of intervention:  (1) prevention, (2) early intervention, and (3) emergency intervention.

One of the first objectives of renamed “RBL Steering Committee” was to plan a summit bringing together School, City, County and community providers of services to children and youth.  This first summit in August of 2011 focused heavily on examining local systems of intervention to identify gaps and overlaps.  From this first summit came the objectives of creating and maintaining a website and addressing perceived communication barriers that were created by the need to keep certain child and youth information confidential.

Recent summits (both in 2015 and 2016) have focused on increasing trauma-informed practices throughout our three agencies as well as community service agencies.  They have also sought to increase awareness of RBL activities as well as available community services and promising initiatives (i.e., neighborhood revitalization, community policing, local mental health services).  Attendance at the summits has grown each year, with over 1,000 individuals attending the 2016 summit.

Since 2011, the RBL Steering Committee as served as an important collaboration point for several projects and initiatives that have advanced the strategy of creating more integrated and seamless intervention systems.  These have included:

  • Developing a Memorandum of Understanding that led to better and more streamlined communications between the School District and La Crosse County about the status and needs of specific children and youth.
  • Launching a collaborative effort (La Crosse Area Family Collaborative, LAFC) that includes new Neighborhood Social Workers who are integrated with local schools and serve as an early intervention resource to stabilize families (with the County, City and School District all contributing funding and/or in-kind resources).
  • Developing a comprehensive “system of care” to address behaviors that put youth at risk of entering the juvenile justice system and which more closely aligns policies and practices of the school, county and community youth service providers.
  • Creating a jointly funded administrator position to manage the new “system of care,” help administer the LAFC, assist with coordination RBL activities and facilitate development of a 501(c)3 organization.
  • Begun developing a 501(c)3 organization.

Below are videos from our Rebuilding for Learning Summits held in 2016 and 2015.



Mission, Goals, Strategy, Objectives, Focus…

Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee


Strengthen collaboration and improve communication between the City, School District and County in the area of family and youth services (as charged by our “parent” group”)


Ensure all children have the opportunity to succeed by addressing barriers students face that prevent them from coming into the classroom ready to learn.  (Addressing barriers faced by children or their parents related to mental health, substance abuse, lack of basic needs or disruptive and pre-criminal behavior.)


Create more integrated (“seamless”) systems across our agencies and within the following levels of intervention: prevention, early intervention and treatment.


  1. Maintain good communication and working relationships among system leaders.
  2. Plan an annual ”summit” that advances our integration strategy.
  3. Maintain a website that provides information on the Rebuilding for Learning Initiative.
  4. Identify either new or existing efforts that the RBL Steering Committee could support which advance the strategy of system integration.

Efforts Supported to Date

  • Better coordination of information sharing
  • Filling the gap of early intervention services for children at risk of abuse or neglect
  • Filling gap of early intervention for youth whose behavior disrupts the classroom and puts them at risk of entering the juvenile justice system

Possible Future Focus Areas

  • Trauma-informed care (coordinate Gundersen)
  • More countywide expansion of RBL (engaging other school districts as both planning and resource partners)
  • Early intervention for children facing mental health challenges (coordination with the behavioral health project)
  • Work on increasing knowledge of and engaging in RBL efforts within our agencies.

Meeting Focus:

Used as a monthly “face to face” communication forum to check in on existing projects and identify additional areas to advance goal of system integration.  “Heavy lifting” on specific projects or efforts done by subcommittees or related groups content arena groups

Steering Committee

“To successfully address complex issues, we must build on the positive momentum that’s started. Creating meaningful cross-sector partnerships, with an open mind, is the only path forward to ensuring that families, no matter their income, can move to this beautiful city to find better opportunities and upward social mobility.”

~Caroline (Neilsen) Gregerson, City of La Crosse Community Development Administrator

Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee

As we discussed at our last RfL meeting, to reach intended outcomes, it is vital that our direction as a steering committee be defined by a thoughtfully engineered charge statement for both the Steering Committee and the Annual RfL Summit Planning Committee. Our written statements will simultaneously provide context and clearly communicate to committee members the parameters within which each group will function.

A communitywide effort from the heart

The City of La Crosse, La Crosse County and School District of La Crosse have led a community-wide collaboration to develop an innovative initiative to help ensure all students have an equal opportunity to succeed at school with a strong start toward a positive future.

Mission (Purpose/Objective)…

The mission of Rebuilding for Learning is to create a systemic approach where the City of La Crosse, La Crosse County, School District of La Crosse, and other youth and human service agencies can come together to identify barriers and work systematically to mitigate these barriers to best meet the needs of children and families.


We believe that by working together we can create a comprehensive learning supports system for prevention, early intervention, and systems of care. We believe that by working collaboratively with more resources concentrated on prevention, the need for intensive systems of care will be reduced over time.

Level of Authority

Report to Mayor of La Crosse, La Crosse County Administrator, and the Superintendent of the School District of La Crosse.

Communication Linkages

  • Regularly scheduled City/County/School District collaboration meetings.
  • Rebuilding for Learning website
  • Various community organizations and committees.


Create connected systems for prevention, early intervention, and systems of care.

Systemic collaboration is essential to establish inter-program connections to ensure seamless intervention within each system and among systems for promoting healthy development and preventing problems, systems of early intervention, and systems of care. Such collaboration involves horizontal and vertical restructuring of programs and services:
(a) within jurisdictions, school districts, and community agencies (e.g., among departments, divisions, units, schools, clusters of schools); (b) between jurisdictions, school and community.[1]


Steering Committee convene 1st Friday of each month (7:30 am – 9:00 am).


Represented organizations dig deep in the sofa cushions to collect as much loose change as possible.

Current Membership:

Jennifer Rombalski [email protected]
Catherine Kolkmeier [email protected]
Karl Green [email protected]
Dawn Reinhart [email protected]
Bridget Todd-Robbins [email protected]
Jason Witt [email protected]
Regina Siegel [email protected]
Troy Harcey [email protected]

“We’re poised to continue to make significant strides in our journey, and it’s exciting to think that we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible.  Together we can – and will – ensure every child in La Crosse has the opportunity to succeed!”

~ Jason Witt, La Crosse County Human Services Director

[1] Howard S. Adelman and Linda Taylor, Rebuilding for Learning, pg. 40

City County Distict Logos

Charge Statement

The charge of the R4L Steering Committee will be to work collaboratively to assure a system in which all children and families can thrive within their school and community; this will allow for maximum development of all necessary intellectual, social, adn emotional skills.

Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee

Charge: To serve as a big-picture point of communication among all City, County, School District, and community-level collaborative efforts that are each working to reduce the social and economic barriers to learning among La Crosse students.


Each member agency is responsible for reporting regularly on relevant developments among the programs within their purview that affect the whole. The intent of these reports is to make appropriate connections among the efforts that will advance their individual and collective missions.  In Collective Impact terms, the Steering Committee will act as the backbone organization and will ensure continuous communication among the agencies and programs that have committed to a common agenda through mutually reinforcing activities.  The Steering Committee will identify shared measurements for gauging the success of these activities and will leverage common networks such as the Family Policy Board to share developments and ideas with the professional community.


Common Agenda. Recommend that the Steering Committee select a common agenda for each year to focus communication around a topic, but one that is broad enough to impact all of the partners.


Steering Committee membership is fluid depending on the involvement of both partner agencies and the individuals representing them.  (Is there a path from each organization to the community/project/program/institution that needs to be connected? If not, find a rep.)


Consists of the following agencies and the programs they are best connected with (but do not necessarily represent their views):


School District

  • Administration
  • Principals/buildings
  • Teachers/Support Staff
  • Students


County, representing:

  • Human Services
    • La Crosse Family Collaborative
    • System of Care
    • Family Policy Board
    • Juvenile Justice
    • SQUAD
  • Health
    • Education program
    • Community Health Improvement Plan/Community Needs Assessment
    • Community Pathways Hub
    • Heroin Task Force



  • Planning
    • Housing
    • Urban/community development
  • Law enforcement
  • Mayor’s office
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Library
  • Other City offices



UW Extension (community development)

  • La Crosse Promise (specific to Karl)
  • Housing Studies (Karl)
  • Others?


Health Science Consortium

  • Alcohol coalition (until funding ends)
  • Behavioral health grant
  • Medical Centers (not representative but can make contacts)
  • Higher Education Institutions (ditto)
  • Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Coordinated Community Response (CCR)


What representation is missing, or are they represented currently?

  • Mental Health Coalition
  • Disability community
  • Cultural groups
  • Couleecap/Homelessness coalition




Together From the Start

The collaboration effort began back in July of 2005 at the recommendation of then School District of La Crosse Superintendent Gerald Kember. He had heard about a collaboration effort at the State School Board Convention with the City of Whitefish Bay and the Janesville School District and how that they have worked collaboratively with local government. At the recommendation of Superintendent Kember and County Administrator Steve O’Malley and Mayor Mark Johnsrud, the collaboration was formed. The purpose of the collaboration is to improve services to residents and save money for tax payers.

The first meeting was a working session to create a listing of existing/on-going collaborations and a list of “possibilities for new collaborations.” The existing collaborative efforts and possible collaborations were grouped into six areas and a subgroup was formed around these groupings.

The six sub-groups in the collaboration include: publicity/administration, joint purchasing, human resources, buildings and grounds, client services, and information services. Over these past five years, the various subgroups have collaborated on items such as joint purchasing of paper, fuel, bringing in national speakers on diversity and government efficiency, discussions on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), high speed data collaborations, joint Earth Day activities, etc. The members of the collaboration include the Mayor Mathias Harter, School District of La Crosse Superintendent Randy Nelson and County Administrator Steve O’Malley. The sub-groups consist of the department heads and the administrators of the three La Crosse governmental entities.

The Client Services sub-group name morphed into Children and Family Services as it became clear that the real focus of the sub-group was on improving services and outcomes for children and families in the community and at school.

Below are videos from our Rebuilding for Learning Summits held in 2011 and 2012.




A Collaborative Resource for Our Community

The City of La Crosse, La Crosse County, and the School District of La Crosse are leading a community-wide initiative to help ensure all students have an equal opportunity to succeed at school. A strong start goes a long way toward a positive future. As part of this collaborative effort, this site is a tool designed to serve as a comprehensive resource for you, a valued member of our community.


The mission of Rebuilding for Learning is to create a systemic approach where City of La Crosse, La Crosse County, School District of La Crosse, and other youth and human service agencies can come together to identify barriers and work systematically to mitigate barriers to best meet the needs of children and families.


We believe that by working together we can create a comprehensive learning supports system for prevention, early intervention and systems of care.  We believe that by working collaboratively with more resources concentrated on prevention, the need for intensive systems of care will be reduced over time.


Rebuilding for Learning is an innovative initiative to bring education and community experts, information and resources together in one place for professionals, community members, parents and students.


2016 Rebuilding for Learning Summit VI

To register for the 2016 Rebuilding for Learning Summit, please sign up or log in by clicking on this link:

Community Outreach for Involvement & Collaborative Support

Mrs. Sue Peterson

Mrs. Sue Peterson

We are blessed to live in a community that cares about kids.  A community that is resource rich in service offerings and activities for children and families, a community where donors will open their pocketbooks time and time again to provide outstanding opportunities to less fortunate children.  I am continually amazed at the generosity we see in the Coulee Region.  From food pantries to clothes closets, camp send-a-kid to scholarship banquets, new playgrounds or theaters, this community is generous beyond belief.

With the acceptance of donors’ generosity comes great responsibility.  A responsibility to be a good steward of program and organization funds, a responsibility to provide meaningful and beneficial programs and services, and a responsibility to hire staff that are committed to making a difference and hold true to your organization’s mission.  One of the greatest opportunities to effectively and efficiently use donors’ funds is through collaboration.  In La Crosse, we “do collaboration” well.

Over the past year the Community Outreach for Involvement and Collaborative Support Subcommittee has focused a great deal on collaboration.  What can we learn from one another?  How can we work together more efficiently?  While these questions answer what we do, they also address the more important underlying questions.  Where are the gaps in services for our kids? How will students benefit? What is in the best interest of families?

While many of the organizations participating in this subcommittee offer similar services (i.e. after school programming, tutoring, recreation, youth sports), we agree that there are more than enough youth to go around.  We also agree that there are barriers to participation that must be addressed including transportation, shortage of volunteers, parental/guardian awareness of programs.  We know that to best meet the needs of La Crosse’s youth we must work together to address these issues.

Research tells us that students’ life experiences and opportunities impact student achievement.  Vacations, exposure to various cultures, and interaction with different professionals provides important background information, builds vocabulary, and provides important context for students.  Students living in poverty, nearly half of the students in La Crosse schools, lack these opportunities and therefore are often at a deficit when compared to their classmates.  Organizations like the YMCA, Ho-Chunk Nation, Boys and Girls Club, the School District of La Crosse’s After School Programs, and Hmong Cultural Center work hard to “even the playing field” by providing opportunities and experiences for students.  We know that a student can read that the oceans are filled with salt water, but one mouthful of salty water and the fact will never be forgotten or they can read about the Hoover Dam, but seeing its impressive magnitude makes it and the understanding of water irrigation unforgettable.

One of the goals of the School District of La Crosse is to graduate students who are career and college ready.  The experiences and opportunities youth and family serving organizations provide to students are critical to the school district reaching that goal.  Perhaps Albert Einstein said it best, “The only source of knowledge is experience.”  We are thankful for the partner organizations that build students’ knowledge through enriching experiences, experiences we know will impact their future.