Success by 6 aims at ensuring children aren't doomed to failure because of malnourishment, violence, poor mental or physical health and other social problems. Backers hope to help everybody in the family in the target area.
Overseen by United Way of the Great Salt Lake Area, it is supposed to bring together volunteers and government agencies to help prepare preschoolers in sometimes-troubled neighborhoods.
The project is starting within the boundaries of the Lincoln Elementary School District, 500 South to 1300 South, and 500 East to 600 West. Next year it is expected to expand to the Jackson and Mountain View elementary school areas.
In one form or another, Success by 6 has served more than 90 cities since it began in Minneapolis almost two decades ago. In Salt Lake City, backers hope to raise $2 million, which they believe they can multiply into $20 million with matching grants. Once it starts, among the first to be helped by the Salt Lake effort will be pregnant, low-income women and their families.
But so far, at least one health official hasn't seen much of it.
"They're not offering any services to families at this point," said Beverly Thornley, nursing program manager for the Salt Lake City-County Health Department's Families and Agencies Coming Together program. She supervises public health nurses in several schools, including Lincoln.
As far as she can tell, requests for proposals - which will define what services are offered - haven't gone out yet, either, she said.
In the meantime, Thornley said, she's concentrating on services that the department offers through its regular channels: holding health fairs at elementary schools, working with the Utah State University extension and nutrition program, checking records to see if there are pockets of low rates of childhood immunization.
Others talk of quiet work that has been going on behind the scenes to get Success by 6 going.
"The Success by 6 people had talked with the nurse that's here, Deborah Milan-Harris," said Lincoln's principal, Sherrianne Cotterell.
"They're just trying to get the program up and running. I think they talked to some other people." The program will need to hire and train workers and make connections with several agencies.
"I think, if I've understood everything, that we're looking at two to three months" before it begins, Cotterell said.
"I do have a feeling that things are moving along."
Colleen Kelley, communications director for United Way of the Great Salt Lake Area, said a Success by 6 committee is drafting requests for proposals to help residents of the district.
"Because it is a pilot, it's important that they're crafted very carefully and we don't rush in," she said.
"There are some things going on," Kelley said.
"If it seems like we're dragging our feet, it's just that we want to be sure that if we're going to be put-ting something out there, that it will pull people together and have meaningful results in the community."
According to Maria Farrington, director of Success by 6, some actions have already begun.
"Right now I'm doing home visits, just to make sure that we're visiting with families that basically have been identified by the school district as being in need of services," she said.
"We're also working with the City-County Health Department, because they are hopefully becoming a partner of ours. . . . We're looking at low birth weights in the 84111 ZIP code, which is in Lincoln School" district.
Success by 6 backers met with officials of Project Hope last week to help organize their joint effort. Project Hope is a similar program that is already operating at seven local schools, designed to help children who are thought to be at risk of failure.
This week Farrington intends to visit Lincoln, checking facilities that will be available to Success by 6 home visitors, such as parking places and desks.
Success by 6 workers are putting together job descriptions for its personnel and are trying to hire a director for the project, she said.
"Probably one of the best things that we are learning is the role of the public health nurse in Success by 6," Farrington said.
The evaluation program, which will show how well Success by 6 functions, is being set up now, she said.