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  Free To Grow
  Mailman School
  of Public Health
  Columbia University
  722 West 168th Street,
  8th Floor
  New York, NY 10032

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NOTE: as of April 17, 2007, the Free to Grow program has closed.
Grantee Profiles

Marathon County Child Development Agency

Organization Name Marathon County Child Development Agency Free To Grow
State Wisconsin
Program Profile

Marathon County Child Development Agency (MCCDA) is a single purpose, non-profit agency that exists solely to administer the Head Start program and its funds in the Greater Wausau area.  In its 36-year history, it has established close ties with the community and other social service organizations in Marathon County. 

MCCDA's partners in Free To Grow include the Marathon County Health Department, Wausau School District, Wausau Police Department, Marathon County Birth to Three Programs, The City of Wausau, Premier Recovery Services, the Start Right Program of the Children's Service Society, the Marathon County Department of Social Services, the Judd S. Alexander Foundation, Dudley Foundation, Wausau Health Foundation, and the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin.  Free To Grow will work closely with the Marathon County Health Department and the Children's Services Society, in particular, to avoid duplication of services.  A single caseworker will be assigned to each family no matter how many different County service programs they participate in.

The target community for this Free To Grow program is a sixteen square mile area within the Wausau School District in Marathon County.  Wausau School District has four elementary schools within this target area Grant, Lincoln, Franklin, and Hawthorn Hills that serve the majority of the County's Head Start families.  The schools and communities surround the small city of Wausau and include low and middle-income neighborhoods populated mostly by Caucasian and Asian families.  The most at-risk families reside within the target community. This area has a high concentration of Head Start families living in low-income rental properties, a large number of liquor stores, and the highest crime rate in Wausau. 

Although alcoholism is the biggest substance abuse issue in Marathon County, drug abuse is on the rise.  Because Wausau is centrally located between the Twin Cities and Green Bay on a four-lane highway, residents have easy access to drugs.  Recently, the city has experienced significant growth.  Just six years ago, the four-lane highway was only a two-lane road.  With the advent of the four-lane highway, Wausau's previously rural character is disappearing and its shelter from bigger-city problems is eroding as well.

For more information, contact Catherine Howe at (715) 845-2947 or via email at

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copyright 2008 Free To Grow
Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.