April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Strengthen Families and Prevent Child Abuse

April 1, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Strengthen Families and Prevent Child Abuse

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This initiative is rooted in communities working  together to serve children and their families in meaningful, impactful ways that provide families with the support they need, especially during challenging times. 

According to the latest national data, an estimated 1,990 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States in 2022. Approximately 3.1 million children across the country received  either an investigation or an alternative response by child protective services, and 558,899 children were found to be victims of child maltreatment. 

Local nonprofit Center for Child Counseling supports thousands of children each year in preventing and healing the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma. In 2023, 80% of the Center’s clients reported having at least one ACE and 34% of clients had four or more ACEs. Adults with four or more ACEs: have a 1200% increased risk of suicide; are two times more likely to smoke, develop heart disease, or cancer; are seven times more likely to abuse alcohol. Early intervention is imperative because childhood trauma is not something a child simply outgrows; it must be addressed with positive factors such as buffering relationships, resiliency building experiences, and positive community environments.

This month and throughout the year, Center for Child Counseling encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Palm Beach County a better place for children and families. Positive childhood experiences (PCEs) can significantly mitigate the impact of ACEs and childhood trauma. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote the social and emotional well-being of children and youth and prevent child maltreatment within families and communities.  

Last year, 92% of the Center’s clients reported cultivating eight or more protective factors. Protective factors are the strengths and resources families draw on during difficult times to shield them from life’s stresses. Research shows that when parents possess protective factors, the risk for neglect and abuse diminish and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted. Major protective factors include knowledge of parenting, knowledge of child  development, parental resilience, social connections, and concrete supports.  

“Preventing child abuse necessitates reframing childhood adversity as a public issue, a preventable issue, and a solvable issue. It beckons us to recognize that we all have a stake in the well-being of our children–that their future is our collective responsibility. To make it a public issue is to underscore that child abuse knows no boundaries, affecting families from all walks of life. It demands that we advocate for policies that foster family well-being–policies that ensure access to good jobs, safe neighborhoods, consistent healthcare, and quality education for every family,” stated Renée Layman, CEO of Center for Child Counseling.

The Center provides a safe space for children and families to receive counseling and support for mental health concerns. The organization also has six clinical programs, developed to fill critical gaps in Palm Beach County’s system of care, and is recognized as South Florida’s premier organization tackling the impact of ACEs and childhood trauma. Using a public health framework, the Center mitigates mental health concerns through prevention and early intervention–including providing education around the state, nation, and world about ACEs.

For more information about child abuse prevention programs and resources, visit centerforchildcounseling.org.

Interview availability:
Renée Layman, LMHC, Chief Executive Officer of Center for Child Counseling

Resources:

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

### 

Mix & Mingle Drives Change for Kids

March 26, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Mix & Mingle Drives Change for Kids
Community members gather to learn how Center for Child Counseling is using data to drive action for kids’ mental health and safety.

Founding members of Center for Child Counseling (CFCC)’s Circle of Giving, Jeff and Jodie Petrone, hosted a mix and mingle event at their Jupiter home on Thursday, March 14, 2024. 

Around 40 attendees, community members and founding members of the Circle of Giving, gathered to hear about the innovative ways CFCC is meeting the needs of children’s mental health and safety in Palm Beach County.

Mr. Petrone, treasurer and secretary of the board of directors and a founding member of the Circle, and Renée Layman, president and CEO of CFCC, spoke about the public health approach that the Palm Beach Gardens-nonprofit is taking to fighting adverse childhood experiences and explained the agency’s vision for the near future of how to better serve children.

Attendees heard about the change-making data dashboard that CFCC has recently built. Populated with data from the 7,000 children served every year by the agency, the system shows exactly where children are located within the county with the various issues they are facing. This geo mapping is driving their vision to: create a mobile unit–built with an education center and therapy center–to take directly to the areas in the community where children are most affected by trauma and need services; and develop an emergency fund to ensure all children receive the help they need.

“If we can save people when they’re young, we can build resilience in their brains…It’s amazing to see how brains look who have been subjected to trauma versus those who have had resilience and positive influences in their life, and it literally changes the chemistry inside the brain. It’s phenomenal and that’s how we heal,” stated Petrone.

Layman explained that CFCC’s public health approach is a framework of prevention, early intervention, and treatment. Typically the mental health model is one of treatment which includes an assessment, diagnosis, and then treatment plan.

“But we know that you don’t have to diagnose a child with a mental health disorder before you do something,” Layman passionately stated. 

Thanks to the support of the founding members of the Circle of Giving, CFCC took their vision of the data dashboard to encompass their public health approach and tackle the issue. Through data mapping, they can now look at what the presenting issues are, look at where the need is, and can design services to target the need. 

“Being able to design services based on the need rather than guessing what the need may be is so powerful,” added Layman.

Prior to implementing this public health approach with the data dashboard, Center for Child Counseling had 865 kids on the waitlist. Within two weeks, the waitlist dropped dramatically to 350 kids. 

Using this data-to-action framework, they are looking at data in real time and immediately triaging kids to care based on what each child needs. Layman gave the example of being able to reach out to parents via email or text and say, “we see your six year old along with 35 other six year olds in your zip code are presenting this issue. We’ve designed this service for you. Are you interested in engaging in it?”

To ensure that every child has the opportunity to thrive, she also shared her vision for an emergency fund: “No funder will ever tell us ‘no’ and that because of these guidelines you can not treat a child. We want an emergency fund so that we are never told no.”

And with respect to the mobile unit, Layman added, “We want to be integrated in the communities we serve. When parents can’t come to us, we want to be able to go to them. We want to build communities’ capacity.” 

Jodie Petrone finished the presentation by sharing their personal story as adoptive and foster parents and how Center for Child Counseling and its services has carried their family through the challenges. She called on attendees to join her and her husband in making an impact in the lives of children by joining the Circle of Giving. 

CFCC launched its Circle of Giving, chaired by Melissa Haley, in November 2023 to drive action and change. The goal is to make lasting change in the lives of children, families, and communities impacted by adverse childhood experiences and trauma.  It aims to take action and drive advocacy toward a brighter future by forming a circle of love, protection, and healing around our community’s children. 

The founding members of the Circle of Giving include: The Abby and Matt Baker Family, Laura Bessinger-Morse, Nancy Feiwel, Melissa Haley, Bailey Hughes, Sharika Kellogg, Lisa LaFrance, Sam and Karry Meshberg, Ann Polya, Jeff and Jodie Petrone, Vicki Price, Lisa Russo, Jacquie Stephens, Karen Young.

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

###

Jibby Ciric Appointed as Senior Director, Strategic Impact of Center for Child Counseling

March 25, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

Jibby Ciric Appointed as Senior Director, Strategic Impact of Center for Child Counseling

Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) announces Ljubica “Jibby” Ciric, PsyD. joins as senior director, strategic impact to play a pivotal role in shaping and executing the strategic direction of the Palm Beach County-based nonprofit, including a focus on organizational and program development, expansion, and funding. 

“We are thrilled to have Jibby join our dynamic staff as a member of our senior leadership team. Jibby is a visionary thinker who will be instrumental in helping us identify, plan, and oversee key initiatives that drive growth, innovation, and long-term success. She will help further our important work in supporting children and families with the prevention and healing of adverse childhood experiences and trauma,” stated Renée Layman, chief executive officer of Center for Child Counseling. 

In her new role, Ciric oversees internal and external initiatives to achieve the goal of increasing CFCC’s sphere of influence and impact in the communities served, including enhancing the public health approach and trauma-informed equity lens.

“With CFCC’s long-standing reputation and passion for the community, I feel fortunate to be part of the mission and vision of such an amazing group of individuals. Working alongside professionals I admire and aspire to be, along with my own experience and skill set, I believe that together we can make a significant impact on children and families in our community,” commented Ciric. 

Ciric’s work and educational background reflect her passion to bring healing to others and promote both individual health and community welfare. Ciric most recently served as vice president of Child and Family Mental Health Services where she oversaw Community Partners of South Florida clinical programs. Previously, she was a mental health professional at a correctional facility and an intervention therapist for victims of natural disasters. Ciric also educated and trained mental health professionals entering the field and created and managed innovative programs related to inclusion of the most at-risk communities in Palm Beach County. Ciric has completed her bachelors in public health, masters in mental health counseling, and doctorate in psychology. 

Her work extends beyond the local community and country. Ciric spent time in Europe working on after-war relief in former Yugoslavia. She also held seminars in Europe, including education on the effects of trauma on socio-emotional, neurological, and physical development. 

“I believe that my past experience combined with my education in public health and mental health, along with my passion for community stability, will allow me to contribute to what has already admirably been created by CFCC’s leadership. I look forward to leaving a meaningful footprint by supporting our community through education, prevention, intervention, and increased partnerships,” added Ciric.

Jessica Cecere Joins Center for Child Counseling’s Board of Directors

March 19, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Jessica Cecere Joins Center for Child Counseling’s Board of Directors

The Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) Board of Directors recently voted in Jessica Cecere as a returning member to contribute her expertise in continuing to move the mission of the non-profit agency forward.

Cecere is the former chief executive officer of Nonprofits First, Inc. and has more than 35 years of nonprofit leadership experience. Cecere has also been a small business shareholder, a consultant, and an active community volunteer. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and is a BoardSource certified governance trainer and a certified True Colors facilitator. Cecere also served as the regional president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a certified consumer credit counselor and a certified counselor for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

Renée Layman, chief executive officer of CFCC, stated, “I am incredibly grateful to have Jessica return as a member of our board of directors. Her expertise in board governance, nonprofit management, leadership facilitation, and finance will help our agency continue to move forward as we innovate and take the right risks with the goal of serving any and every child in Palm Beach County.”  

Cecere has been involved with CFCC for more than a decade as a previous board member and constant supporter. She has a long history of community involvement with many community service and nonprofit organizations. She is a graduate and active alumnus of Leadership Florida and Leadership Palm Beach County and serves as a volunteer on numerous committees. Cecere has served on 12 plus nonprofit boards and advisory councils from 1992 – 2024. She also currently serves as a board member for the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Florida and the Caribbean and Leadership Palm Beach County.

With respect to this new board role, Cecere expressed, “I’m looking forward to creating awareness, particularly with our funding and nonprofit community and the amazing work that Center for Child Counseling has done, and the very forward thinking and progressive response to mental health for children.”

The other members of CFCC’s Board of Directors include: Eugenia Millender, Ph.D., chair; Eddie Stephens, vice chair; Jeffrey Petrone, treasurer and secretary; Bill Lynch, past chair; Madeline Morris, director and audit committee chairwoman; Jennifer Hume Rodriguez, director; Patsy Mintmire, director; Bailey Hughes, director; Melissa Haley, director; and Renée Layman, president and chief executive officer.

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

PHOTO ID:

001: Jessica Cecere

###

Keep Kids Safe from Abuse at Camp this Summer

NEWS RELEASE

March 6, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Keep Kids Safe from Abuse at Camp this Summer
Center for Child Counseling’s CampSafe® Training is designed to protect campers and staff from child sexual abuse.

With summer on the horizon, caregivers are beginning to plan how to fill nearly three months of no school. Every year, about 26 million children attend roughly 15,000 day and overnight summer camps across the country, but how do parents ensure camps are properly vetted for safety when every nine minutes a child is a victim of sexual abuse and assault (rainn.org) and 90% are abused by someone they know and trust? Florida-based nonprofit Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) wants to ensure every camper in the United States is protected and safe from abuse with CampSafe®–an online training designed to provide camp leadership and staff with the awareness and knowledge needed to prevent child sexual abuse. 

The goal is for all staff–including counselors, administrators, supervisors, dining and health personnel, volunteers, and board members–to arrive at camp with the same strong foundational knowledge of child sexual abuse prevention and awareness. For summer 2023, more than 8,000 camp staff across 74 camps participated in the CampSafe® training program. More than 14,000 campers were kept safe.

“Empowering every caregiver in every camp setting with knowledge of this topic provides a confidence level that best protects all staff and campers. Focused training for staff and volunteers both breaks the cycle of child sexual abuse and highlights a topic too often avoided out of fear and/or discomfort,” said Cherie Benjoseph CFCC director of national outreach and education and creator of the CampSafe® curriculum.

The program was created with young adults, ages 18-26, in mind to take the topic seriously but not instill fear. The training promotes compassion toward campers as staff become fluent in the language of safety while providing comfort, aide, and access to supervisory staff for guidance.

According to Justin Levy, assistant director of engagement and recruitment for Camp Coleman in Georgia, when they used CampSafe for the first time, “We were skeptical but those fears quickly went away. Having the ability to train every adult who enters our camp on such important information was so easy and so important. We had a better and safer camp because of CampSafe and that is priceless.”

From setting healthy boundaries to ensuring the entire camp team has a consistent safety protocol, CampSafe® training provides animated scenarios, interactive learning, and clear safety language for staff. Director training modules include: interviewing and background check protocol; child protection policy and procedures; supervising around the issues of child sexual abuse prevention; in-person follow-up training to provide during pre-camp week; links to state resources; establishing healthy boundaries; ice breakers for counselors and campers; sexual harassment; letters to parents and staff; and post-testing for certification. 

“Training focused squarely on sexual abuse prevention sends a message that your camp has ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse. This powerful message helps deter staff applicants who may have undesirable motives,” added Benjoseph. 

The CampSafe® program was developed by professionals with expertise in sexual abuse prevention and training. The Center for Child Counseling team partnered with experts in learning and development, using the most up-to-date online method. The training is designed to build confidence and knowledge for all camp personnel, gently but thoroughly, before camp begins.

“What I like about CampSafe Training in particular is that every counselor comes to camp with a strong knowledge base on the topic. So when we meet to review it during staff training, it isn’t the first time they’ve heard this information and they actually absorb it,” stated Carrie Muhlstein, director at Camp Wayne for Boys in Pennsylvania.  

According to data collected from the Center, staff’s ability to identify a camper who is at risk for child sexual abuse went from 49% confidence to 97% after the training. More than 75% of participants reported feeling safer that their camp is taking action to protect the staff and campers.

CampSafe® has the educational endorsement from the American Camp Association and is an Approved Youth Protection Training for the state of Texas. The training can be provided to all camp staff for a nominal fee, ranging from $275-$850 depending on the number of staff members being trained. 

CampSafe® is part of Center for Child Counseling’s be KidSafe initiative of providing prevention education for all adults who work with children.

Renée Layman, CEO of the Center, believes “all children deserve the same protection from abuse at summer camps as that which we advocate for and provide training for within schools and child care centers during the school year. Our goal is make it easy for all adults to become trauma-aware and recognize and stop childhood trauma and abuse in its tracks.”

For camp associations, camp directors, parks and recreation departments, and school districts interested in learning more about how to be proactive in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse at your day or overnight camp, visit bekidsafe.org/camps or email bekidsafe@centerforchildcounseling.org. 

Photo ID:

001: Camp Coleman camper; Cherie Benjoseph, director of national outreach and education for Center for Child Counseling ; Justin Levy, assistant director of engagement and recruitment for Camp Coleman in Georgia

Interview availability:
Cherie Benjoseph, LCSW, CFCC director of national outreach and education and creator of the CampSafe® curriculum.

CampSafe® Resources:

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

About Cherie Benjoseph, CFCC director of national outreach and education and creator of the CampSafe® curriculum:

Cherie is an expert in the field of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention. She has practiced social work since 1989. After receiving her MSW at Boston University, she worked as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in multiple school and non-profit settings in the Northeast and the state of Florida. In 2009 she founded KidSafe Foundation, a non-profit focused on child sexual abuse primary prevention. Cherie grounds her work in Child Sexual Abuse Prevention using a public health model. She is convinced that educating children and those who live or work with children about child sexual abuse and trauma prevention will strengthen families and protect kids, breaking the cycle of abuse. Presently, as Director of National Outreach and Education for the Center for Child Counseling, Cherie works with national and local leaders to define and improve the ever-changing issues around protecting children from harm. For more than a decade, she has presented nationally at conferences and symposiums. She loves to have conversations about how to talk with kids about personal safety, and she believes a safe society—free from child sexual abuse and exploitation—is attainable. Through Cherie’s leadership, several state-of-the-art programs have been created including Stay KidSafe!™, a personal safety curriculum for children, and CampSafe®, an online training program for camp staff, now programs of Center for Child Counseling. Cherie serves on the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation. She is a mom of two (grown and flown). She enjoys qigong, working with clay, travel, and time with her family when she’s not out advocating for the safety of all children.

###

 

Gratitude Gathering Honors Individuals Profoundly Impacting Children in Palm Beach County

December 6, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

Gratitude Gathering Honors Individuals Profoundly Impacting Children in Palm Beach County
Center for Child Counseling celebrates local individuals mitigating ACEs and trauma.

Center for Child Counseling hosted its Gratitude Gathering 2023 on Thursday, November 30 at the Mollie Wilmot Center in West Palm Beach. The event was an opportunity to honor distinguished individuals who are making a profound impact on the lives of children through their passion and tireless dedication to advancing understanding and action to mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma.

At this year’s Gratitude Gathering, the Center celebrated with the community its shared commitment of fostering resilience in children. Three local Palm Beach County individuals were recognized: Kathy Leone with the Jane Robinson Child Advocacy Award, Murray Levin with the Child Protector Award, and Judge Kathleen Kroll with The Judge Ron Alvarez Resiliency Award.

The Jane Robinson Child Advocacy award is named after the founder of Center for Child Counseling who passionately dedicated her professional career to promoting infant and early childhood mental health. The award recognizes a passionate advocate who works to promote child resilience, safety, and mental health. Leone was honored for her significant contribution to fighting ACEs in Palm Beach County. She has been a passionate advocate for children in the foster system for many years. 

“Through her work with the Center, other nonprofits, and business leaders in Palm Beach County, Kathy is making a meaningful difference for the most vulnerable children in our community,” said Renée Layman, CEO of Center for Child Counseling.

The Child Protector Award recognizes an individual or business that has been a significant champion for children’s safety and mental health. Since 2008, the Saul and Theresa Esman Foundation has been supporting the community of South Florida. Levin, president and chair of the foundation, received the award for his visionary support of keeping kids safe, including providing support to launch KidSafe Español.

Levin shared why he is driven to help children: “They deserve care, they deserve love, and they should get all they need as our most important human beings.”

The Judge Ron Alvarez Resiliency Award is named in honor of the pioneering legal mind who worked for children’s rights long before the impact of ACEs on society was fully understood. The award recognizes a trailblazing person in the legal profession who advocates for a fuller understanding of the science of adversity in the context of the law. The recipient works tirelessly to promote a trauma-informed approach to legal practice–making our legal system more compassionate and equitable for vulnerable children and families. In 2019, the award was given to Judge Alvarez to honor his trauma-informed and compassionate approach within the juvenile court system. Judge Alvarez, a beloved member of the Palm Beach County community, died earlier this year. With his wife Elaine’s permission, this award will continue his legacy. At the gathering, Elaine reflected on their fifty-four years of marriage, sharing personal stories of their time together.

Eddie Stephens, the Center’s board vice chair and partner at Stephens & Stevens, presented the Judge Ron Alvarez Resiliency Award to Judge Kathleen Kroll for her work from the bench to create a trauma-informed child welfare system in Palm Beach County. Judge Kroll has served as a Judge in Palm Beach County for more than 30 years and sits on the board of the Children’s Services Council, chairs the delinquency re-entry subcommittee of the Criminal Justice Commission, and leads the dually involved youth work group of the Supreme Court Committee on Families and Children. 

Kelsee, a former drug court participant who struggled with addiction for ten years starting at age 13, shared her sentiments of the impact Judge Kroll has had on her life: “Without her, I wouldn’t be an active role model and parent in my children’s lives today. I wouldn’t be sober experiencing how beautiful life truly is…[Judge Kroll] wrapped her hands around me and pushed me. She always let me know that I wasn’t alone–that she had faith in me. She never gave up on me although many times I have disappointed her. She fought for me when I couldn’t even fight for myself–she made me want to be better.” 

Layman also spoke of Judge Kroll’s compassion, dedication, and profound impact on the children in Palm Beach County: “We are deeply grateful to have Judge Kroll in our community. Her positive influence fosters a sense of trust in the legal system and promotes a belief that the Court can be a  system that improves the lives of the families that come before it. Like Judge Alvarez, her impact will truly be felt for generations to come.”

The inspiring evening of recognizing individuals making a lasting impact on children and families was made possible thanks to the support of Stephens & Stevens.

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

###

 

Circle of Giving Forms Love, Protection, Healing for Children

December 14, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

Circle of Giving Forms Love, Protection, Healing for Children
Center for Child Counseling celebrates local individuals mitigating ACEs and trauma.

Child advocate Melissa Haley recently hosted a gathering on November 16, 2023, in Boynton Beach to kickoff the Center for Child Counseling’s Circle of Giving

Haley’s vision, aligned with the Center’s work, is to make lasting change in the lives of children, families, and communities impacted by adverse childhood experiences and trauma. Her aim is simple–to take action and drive advocacy toward a brighter future. As Board Director and Chair of the Circle of Giving, Haley is helping the nonprofit form a circle of love, protection, and healing around our community’s children. 

40 community members, including 15 new members of the Circle of Giving, attended the gathering to learn more about how to lead community engagement to advance children’s mental health and safety in the following critical categories: training to create ACEs-aware and trauma-informed communities; investing in early childhood development from a public health approach; engaging philanthropy to increase mission impact; and empowering awareness into action with policy. 

The founding members of the Circle of Giving include: The Abby and Matt Baker Family, Melissa Haley, Karry and Sam Meshberg, Jodie and Jeff Petrone, Lisa Russo, Karen Young. Additional members who joined at the kickoff gathering include: Nancy Feiwel, Bailey Hughes, Sharika Kellogg, Laura Morse, Lisa LaFrance, Ann Polya, and Jacqueline Stephens. 

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

###

Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine Appointed as Medical Director

November 6, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine Appointed as Medical Director of Center for Child Counseling

 

Center for Child Counseling announces the appointment of  Shannon Fox-Levine, M.D., as Medical Director. Dr. Fox-Levine joins the Palm Beach County-based nonprofit at a critical time as our nation’s youth face a mental health crisis and there is a shortage of professionals who can support their overall well-being. 

The current snapshot of Palm Beach County’s youth mental health is alarming. In 2021, 41.5% of Palm Beach County high school students reported that they felt hopeless, and 20.7% of total high school students seriously contemplated suicide (PBC Youth Behavioral Health Survey). Today, one in four children suffer a mental health or behavioral concern. 

In 2022, the entire state of Florida had a total of 493 children and adolescent psychiatrists with 43 practicing in Palm Beach County–one psychiatrist per 6,553 children under the age of 18 in the county (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry). 

According to Renée Layman, CEO of the Center, “We are thrilled to enhance our collaboration with Dr. Fox-Levine and further tackle system issues, advocate for children, and create action to improve the mental health and access to quality care for the children in our community.” 

The creation of the Medical Director position is a continuation of the partnership the Center has been building with Dr. Fox-Levine and her pediatric office, Palm Beach Pediatrics, for more than a decade. In addition to Center for Child Counseling integrating its services within Palm Beach Pediatrics to deliver an array of prevention, early intervention, and mental health services within the primary care setting, Dr. Fox-Levine will now expand early intervention and prevention methods within the community and advocate for change within the systems.

“One of my long-term goals has been to bridge the gap in the continuity of care of children with mental health issues between therapists and the county’s pediatricians. With this new role, I am excited to turn this dream into a reality and improve the mental health care for all children in Palm Beach County,” stated Dr. Fox-Levine.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Pediatric clinicians are on the front lines of caring for children and adolescents and, thus, have the greatest potential for early identification of and response to childhood trauma. Data indicate that, although pediatric providers intuitively understand the negative effects of trauma, they report a lack of knowledge, time, and resources as major barriers to providing trauma-informed care. Yet, experts believe that the complete assessment of child and adolescent behavioral, developmental, emotional, and physical health requires consideration of trauma as part of the differential diagnosis to improve diagnostic accuracy and appropriateness of care.

As Medical Director, Dr. Fox-Levine’s scope of services will include: developing a collaborative model of care between primary pediatrics and mental health in the community; developing and presenting trainings and workshops on psychopharmacology, pediatric medical conditions, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma, and other topics to enhance professional knowledge; mental health diagnoses consultation and follow-up care coordination; and providing oversight of medical students to develop a formal internship experience within the Center. 

Layman and Dr. Fox-Levine agree there is no lack of resources available to children and families in Palm Beach County; the lack of communication about the resources is where the barrier exists.

“When conversations happen in the community, pediatricians are often overlooked when they are the ones who have been seeing kids and their families since the day they were born. There’s a gap between what pediatricians do and what community organizations and schools do. So, we are thrilled to have Dr. Fox-Levine to help further our work within our community by advocating for the continuity of care. She will be the voice on behalf of pediatricians and connect pediatric offices to the community resources available to their patients and families,” said Layman.

About Shannon Fox-Levine, M.D.: Dr. Fox-Levine is a pediatrician and the sole owner of Palm Beach Pediatrics, where she has worked for 20 years. She completed medical school at University of Maryland at Baltimore and trained in pediatrics at Bellevue/NYU Hospital. Her goal as a pediatrician is to give the best comprehensive medical care to children while also being an advocate for them in the community. Integrating mental health care for children into primary care is her special interest. She has worked with Center for Child Counseling for ten years promoting trauma-informed care and developed educational tools for other primary care doctors to evaluate, manage, and treat common mental health disorders in children and adolescents. She is on a school-based committee to address the increase in Baker Acts during the pandemic. She also has an interest in the business of medicine and enjoys managing the practice. She has been an advocate for pediatricians to improve payment for services in Florida as the past chair of the Florida Pediatric council, most notably negotiating a grant from a major health plan to subsidize consultation hours for Patient Centered Medical Home recognition for independently owned pediatric practices.  She currently serves on the AAP Payer Advocacy and Advisory Committee to improve payment to pediatricians to decrease the financial barrier to access to high quality care for all children. She was the President of the Palm Beach Pediatric Society for ten years, organizing CME for peers in the community. One of her most proud achievements is advocating for child safety by being one of six named pediatricians in the “Docs vs. Glocks” lawsuit against the State of Florida which found in the doctors’ favor in Federal Appellate Court.  With COVID-19, she was an active participant in the state chapter and local school board discussions about returning children to school safely.  She has been married for 22 years with two sons, 21 and 18.  In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and exercising. 

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

###

Texas Approves Training to Protect Campers and Staff from Child Sexual Abuse

NEWS RELEASE

October 17, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Texas Approves Training to Protect Campers and Staff from Child Sexual Abuse
Center for Child Counseling’s CampSafe® training approved by Texas Department of State Health Services

Every year, about 26 million children attend roughly 15,000 day and overnight summer camps across the United States. In the past 25 years, more than 575 cases of child sexual abuse have been reported at camps in North America. Unfortunately, given 86% of abused victims never disclose sexual assault at all, that number is likely much higher. Earlier this month, the Texas Department of State Health Services approved Center for Child Counseling’s CampSafe® training which is designed to provide camp leadership and staff with the awareness and knowledge needed to prevent child sexual abuse. 

Every nine minutes, a child is a victim of sexual abuse and assault (rainn.org). Of those children who are sexually abused, 90% are abused by someone they know and trust. Center for Child Counseling (CFCC), a Florida-based nonprofit, wants to ensure every child, including all who attend day and overnight camps, is protected and safe from abuse. 

“We applaud the State of Texas for mandating instruction within schools and camps on child sexual abuse awareness and prevention and now for putting its stamp of approval on our CampSafe® training in order to provide more options of protection for children with increased prevention and awareness in the summer months,” said CEO of CFCC Renée Layman.

For summer 2023, more than 7,000 camp staff–across 75 camps in 27 states and Canada– participated in the CampSafe® training program, protecting more than 37,000 campers from child sexual abuse. The goal is for all staff–including counselors, administrators, supervisors, dining and health personnel– volunteers, and board members to arrive at camp with the same strong foundational knowledge of child sexual abuse prevention and awarenss. 

“Our philosophy is to empower caregivers in all settings with a level of confidence around this topic, therefore better protecting all staff and campers. Training staff and volunteers helps break the cycle of child sexual abuse and shines an important light on this often-taboo topic,” said Cherie Benjoseph, LCSW, director of national outreach and education for CFCC and creator of the CampSafe® training.

The program was created with both young adults, ages 18-26, and more seasoned staff in mind to take the topic seriously but not instill fear and reinforce the message of how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. The training promotes compassion toward campers as staff become fluent in the language of safety while providing comfort, aide, and access to supervisory staff for guidance.

According to Nathaniel Miller, a director with New Life Camp, North Carolina, “CampSafe provided an easy yet effective resource to train our summer and seasonal staff in the important understanding of protecting children placed in our care. It handles the serious matter of child abuse in a way that doesn’t sugarcoat the problem but also makes it digestible for high school and college-aged staff. The online course also provided great discussion points when we did our in-person training.” 

From setting healthy boundaries to ensuring the entire camp team has a consistent safety protocol, CampSafe® training provides scenarios, interactive learning, and clear safety language for staff. Director training modules include: interviewing and background check protocol; child protection policy and procedures; supervising around the issues of child sexual abuse prevention; in-person followup training to provide during pre-camp week; links to state resources; establishing healthy boundaries ice breakers for counselors and campers; sexual harassment; letters to parents and staff; and post-testing for certification. 

“Training before staff arrive at camp, focused squarely on sexual abuse prevention, sends a message that your camp has ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse. This helps weed out potential staff who may have other motives,” added Benjoseph. 

The CampSafe® program was developed by professionals with expertise in sexual abuse prevention and training. The Center for Child Counseling team partnered with experts in learning and development, using the most up-to-date elearn method. The training is designed to empower all camp personnel, gently but thoroughly, before camp begins.

In addition to the State of Texas approving CampSafe® for both Youth Camp and Campus Programs for Minors, the American Camp Association also endorses the program. CampSafe® can be provided to all camp staff for a nominal fee, ranging from $250-$650 depending on the number of staff members being trained. 

For camp associations, camp directors, parks and recreation departments, and school districts interested in learning more about how to be proactive in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse at your day or overnight camp, visit centerforchildcounseling.org/campsafe or email bekidsafe@centerforchildcounseling.org.

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

###

 

Center for Child Counseling Receives ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award

October 2, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

Center for Child Counseling Receives ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award

Center for Child Counseling is honored to announce its prestigious selection as the ATHENA Organization Leadership Award recipient for 2023. The Center received this recognition at the 32nd Annual ATHENA Awards Luncheon, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches on September 28. 

An ATHENA Organizational Award nominee is a business or organization that creates an organizational culture that encourages women employees to achieve their full leadership potential and gives back to the larger community of women and girls by providing and/or supporting leadership development opportunities and initiatives. 

Brimming with pride and gratitude, CEO Renée Layman stated in her acceptance speech, “Thank you to the Chamber for awarding us with this prestigious honor. It’s such a privilege to be honored for something we love to do. I stand here as CEO representing a whole team of women…In 1999, Jane Robinson had this idea for supporting women and young children in Palm Beach County when nobody was doing it. And I came on in 2013 as CEO to continue her vision of supporting some of the most vulnerable children in the county. Our mission would remain but a dream without the incredible women who surround me…It has been a community effort to make a better Palm Beach County for women, children, families. We’re deeply grateful. We will take this and continue to fight for kids, continue to fight for the mental health of our children at a time when we are in crisis. Our need to act has never been greater. We will take this to spread awareness about what we need to do and we will continue to engage incredible women to support our mission.” 

Martha Mayhood Mertz founded ATHENA International in 1982 to honor women leaders and bring balance to leadership voices worldwide, a community of current and future leaders who have the power to change the world. Its vision of developing diverse, transformative leaders worldwide is rooted in celebrating the change-makers and trailblazers who open doors of leadership and opportunity and for women in communities across the globe.

Since its inception, Center for Child Counseling has been a woman-led and woman-driven organization. Since 2013, Layman has expanded the organization’s impact and sustainability, growing from four staff to 80–79 of them women–in just 10 years. From the top down, the women (and one man!) support each other: nurturing a culture that promotes learning constantly, living authentically, building relationships, and advocating fiercely for mental health and safety of girls and women. The Center embodies and embraces the very tenets that make up ATHENA International.

The Center was nominated by GL Homes Vice President of Community Relations Sarah Alsofrom for the ATHENA award and then selected as a 2023 Organizational Leadership finalist, along with Junior League of The Palm Beaches and Wellington Regional Medical Center. Other ATHENA award recipients included: Young Professional Award–Sarah Criser Elwell, CEO of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches; Leadership Award–Dorritt MIller, Assistant County Administrator for Palm Beach County.

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

PHOTO IDs:
Center for Child Counseling staff and board members present at the 32nd Annual ATHENA Awards luncheon.

Click here to view the news release.

###

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial