A growing city of 50,000 in Southeastern Idaho, Pocatello is a working class, rural community. Pocatello maintains a 17% high school dropout rate, which many attribute to its low tax base and many young peoples’ lack of interest in education.
As a result of these problems, Pocatello has as many human service agencies as a city much larger in size. With so many helping organizations duplicating services and competing for volunteers and dollars, it made sense to coalesce youth interests into one umbrella agency. Thus, in May 1997, after a two-day community workshop, the Children's Advocacy Network (CAN) was born. Its mission is "to unite the community and families to enhance the well-being of children and adolescents." More than 100 agency and community members pledged their support to improve the lives of children and young people.
To date the successes are numerous, including a live call-in show where the community sought viable solutions, the construction of a skateboard facility for youth, the establishment of a family resource center, publishing an education page in the Idaho State Journal, conducting literacy campaigns, planting and maintaining a community garden dedicated to peace and creating a comprehensive youth violence survey as guide to reducing violence in troubled communities.
In addition, as a follow-up to the 1997 Presidents’ Summit, CAN held the Southeast Idaho Youth Summit in late 1998. The Pocatello Youth Forum, a group of community-minded high schoolers, planned and ran this successful event under the direction of the chair of the CAN "Valuing Children" committee. More than 150 high school students attended this fun and informative day which focused on skills building and community service. Promises were obtained by forum members from more than 70 local businesses, organizations and individuals.