Marion County, Oregon: Creating a Safe Environment for Kids


Marion County leaders needed to stem the plague of youth issues caused by drugs and parents who cycle through the criminal justice system, leaving hundreds of children without proper parental attention. CFM met this significant challenge by helping to create, brand and, ultimately, secure millions of dollars for Marion County’s “Kids First” initiative, a comprehensive network of local programs that serve children in high-risk families affected by methamphetamine addiction.


Marion County has unique child welfare challenges not shared by other Oregon counties or across the nation. As home to five of the state’s 14 correctional institutions, Marion County faced a significant problem with intergenerational issues of drug abuse, criminal history, child abuse and poor parental attention and care. The county had a serious drug problem, particularly with methamphetamine abuse. For more than eight years, Marion County had been designated by the federal government as a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.”


CFM worked with community leaders to highlight the innovative, evidence-based approaches Marion County developed to break the cycle of intergenerational drug abuse, crime and family violence affecting local children. Kids First represented a partnership of more than six local agencies and programs. Leveraging this partnership, CFM worked to brand and market the project to Congress as one comprehensive initiative, with the ability to achieve results.


CFM achieved name recognition for the Kids First project among the delegation and was successful in securing funding for the project four years in a row. Total federal funding for Marion County’s Kids First initiative now tops more than $2 million.