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Chautauqua County is doing all right in some human-service areas but needs work in others.

That is the general assessment in the first Communitywide Report Card drafted by Research and Planning for Human Services, an umbrella agency for human-service programs and community-needs assessment.

"The real purpose of this (report card) is to establish baseline data, so we know if we are making progress on quality-of-life issues," said Tom Faber, director of the agency.

"What gets measured gets done, and if we want things to change, we need to know how to measure that change," Faber said.

The first in what will become annual report cards is not graded, but rather notes "opportunities" in four areas that need special attention: alcohol and substance abuse, economic opportunity, population and teen pregnancy.

Faber said: "Our economy is a mixed blessing. We are up in terms of actual numbers of jobs, but down in terms of manufacturing or higher-paying jobs. The jobs available are in service industries which don't pay as well."

The numbers of alcohol-related accidents and arrests for driving while intoxicated are down, but Faber said that "there is a concern that more adults are involved in alcohol or drug use while the number of teen-age users is dropping."

In addition, the number of teen-age pregnancies, which had been declining dramatically since 1990, has risen again.

On a positive note, Faber said, the county is holding its own in quality of education, and the official dropout rate is lower than for other areas in the state.

Research and Planning has already assigned itself some homework for 1998 -- developing better health indicators.

After the recent HIV crisis in Chautauqua County, Faber said, the key now is to make human service programs work better.

"We hope to use the collaborative community-planning process that we've used to develop the report card in order to develop some programs to address the issues of alcohol and drug use and teen pregnancy," he said.

"As it turns out, many of what we call at-risk behaviors by young people are related, and by concentrating on comprehensive programs, we will be farther ahead than trying to deal with them individually. We want to re-engineer the whole process, and that is a challenge, but we are looking forward to it."

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