Impact the Palm Beaches awards $100,000 to Prevent and Heal Child Sexual Abuse

NEWS RELEASE
May 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 Grant to Prevent and Heal Child Sexual Abuse
Impact the Palm Beaches awards $100,000

(Palm Beach Gardens, FL)–Impact the Palm Beaches recently awarded a $100,000 grant to Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) for keeping kids safe by preventing and healing child sexual abuse. 

Child sexual abuse is a leading health concern facing children today. About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18. Of those children who are sexually abused, 90% are abused by someone they know and trust. 

To tackle this crisis, in October of 2022, Center for Child Counseling officially merged with KidSafe Foundation–an organization with more than 13 years of expertise in education of sexual abuse. As a program now under the CFCC umbrella, KidSafe is expanding to provide more education to prevent child sexual abuse. 

With the support of the Impact grant, Center for Child Counseling will provide 14 Palm Beach County schools with Stay KidSafe©–an age-appropriate curriculum that simplifies the sensitive topic of child sexual abuse and trafficking prevention with a fun, interactive program that teaches children protective skills from a place of empowerment, not fear. The program will give children concrete tools and skills to stay safe. Children will  learn to recognize their feelings, go to their “safe adults,” and speak assertively when they feel uncomfortable. The training will extend to parents, guardians, and teachers–making them better vanguards of safety for children. Adults will learn how to: communicate safety awareness and provide skills to children; build their capacity to spot the signs of sexual abuse; and have open conversations about safety. This program implementation will impact over 7,000 children and over 4,000 adults in the county.

“Thanks to this Impact award, we are tackling the public health crisis of child sexual abuse in Palm Beach County with prevention and early intervention, because every child deserves to grow up feeling safe. We believe that every child must have the KidSafe program. Our dream is big but Impact the Palm Beaches is helping us take a major step to make it a reality,” stated Renée Layman, CEO of CFCC.

The KidSafe program is also available to the more than 7,500 children served annually through CFCC’s clinical programs. Furthermore, it will be integrated into CFCC’s Childcare and Community Social-Emotional Wellness Program–funded by Impact the Palm Beaches in 2019–which is provided onsite in 30 partner childcare centers and elementary schools. Through a collaborative agreement with the School District of Palm Beach County, the curriculum will be available to every elementary school in Palm Beach County at no charge. 

For more information on Center for Child Counseling’s KidSafe program, visit www.centerforchildcounseling.org/kidsafe.  

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. As of October 2022, KidSafe now operates under Center for Child Counseling as the two entities are now stronger together in their education and prevention of child sexual abuse and childhood trauma. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

PHOTO IDs:

Photo credit: Capehart Photography
142: Center for Child Counseling leadership team and members of the board of directors.
148: Impact President Lisa LaFrance, CFCC Chair of the Board of Directors Dr. Eugenia Millender, CFCC CEO Renée Layman, CFCC Treasurer and Secretary Jeffrey Petrone, Impact Immediate Past President, Lauren Sterlacci.

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Fritzi Horstman Discusses Childhood Trauma Related to the Prison Population

NEWS RELEASE
April  25, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com
561-632-6747 

Fritzi Horstman Discusses Childhood Trauma Related to the Prison Population: “See people for who they are, not for what they’ve done.” 

Center for Child Counseling series on fighting ACEs continues in conjunction with National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Second Chance Month.

Fritzi Horstman, founder and executive director of the Compassion Prison Project, stressed seeing people “for who they are, not for what they’ve done” in her presentation during Center for Child Counseling’s Part III of its 2023 Lead the Fight series on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. Emceed by Eugenia Millender, Ph.D., RN, chair of the Center’s Board of Directors, the event virtually gathered more than 200 community members and leaders from all over the world to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma in relation to the prison population.

The event took place in conjunction with both National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Second Chance Monthrecognizing the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect AND recognizing the need to build meaningful second chances for the millions of people returning to society from incarceration each year.

As a nurse scientist, Dr. Millender is co-founder and co-director for the Florida State University Center for Population Sciences for Health Equity and an associate professor at the FSU College of Nursing. She researches stress, trauma, and mental health disparities among underserved populations using principles of community-engaged and community-led research. In her opening remarks, Millender presented data related to the prison population’s impact on Palm Beach County in 2022. 44,782 arrests were made and 1,088 people were admitted to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC), ranking PBC seventh of 67 counties in the number of admissions to FDC. Approximately 1,100 individuals were released from FDC and returned to PBC. 

Palm Beach County is a microcosm of what’s occurring nationally. Horstman believes it is imperative that we address the chronic mental health issues in prison with common sense, compassion, and urgency. Compassion Prison Project is an organization dedicated to creating trauma-informed prisons and communities, bringing accountability and creative inspiration to all men and women living and working in prisons. 

In 2020, Horstman directed “Step Inside the Circle” at California State Prison, Los Angeles County with 235 incarcerated men. The video is a call to recognize the physical, emotional, and social impact ACEs have wrought upon society and stress the importance of care–not punishment–going forward in the prison system. 

ACEs without intervention predict various adverse health outcomes. For instance, an individual with four or more ACEs is seven times more likely to go to prison. According to trauma and addiction expert Dr. Gabor Maté who has worked with Horstman on many projects, “When you study prison populations, you see a preponderance of childhood trauma and mental illness. The two go together. So, what we have in prisons are the most traumatized people in our society.” 

Through the Compassion Prison Project, Horstman and her team are calling for change within the prison system and restoring the prisoners’ human dignity and healing their trauma with understanding, compassion, and love.

“If punishment worked, there would be no prisons, because most of the children that have ended up in prison were all punished, were all destroyed. They were physically abused, emotionally abused, sexually abused, neglected, told they were nothing. So, that’s punishment. They’ve already been punished. Violence for a violent act doesn’t work. The only thing that works is love. The only thing that changes anything is love.”

With 95% of our nation’s incarcerated men and women eventually returning home, Horstman recognizes the necessity of rebuilding lives through awareness, self-love, and self-care. Her goal is to give them purpose and direction and have them make a difference while they are sitting in their cells. When incarcerated individuals are eventually released, they need to be healed and have hope to be positive contributors to society and reduce the rate of recidivism.

Horstman gave the example of working with child abusers, “They are going to go home one day, so, if they’re not in good shape, if they don’t feel human…they’re going to continue. It’s my job to make sure, it should be every person’s job in the prison to make sure, those men are in great shape going home.”

She emphasized enforcing accountability and the damage that has been done by those incarcerated, but “if I’m being punished by everything I’ve done in the past, then I can’t move forward.” When speaking with the prisoners, Horstman aims to take their victimhood out of the equation and gives them empowerment to change their outlook and reason for being in prison to one with purpose and hope. 

“When I walk into prisons, what happens is, I start seeing people for who they are and not for what they’ve done. Because if you look at what they’ve done…you recoil. But when you look at who they are, you see their magnificence.” 

In her closing thoughts, Horstman quoted Bob Kerrey, “‘Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.’”

Following Horstman’s presentation, Dr. Millender called on the attendees to join in leading the fight against ACEs by committing to taking action: become ACEs-aware and -informed through training; invest in early childhood development; join the Center’s new Giving Circle; or send letters and information provided by the Center to policy makers urging them to drive supportive change. 

Center for Child Counseling, in conjunction with Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2017, developed ‘Lead the Fight’ in 2016 to bring awareness to system leaders around fighting childhood adversity with advocacy and action. In 2021, the event was transformed into a virtual action series in response to the pandemic and the urgent need to move forward policies and practices that support children’s mental health and resilience. Virtual conversations continued in 2022.

The 2023 Lead the Fight series is continuing with monthly conversations and events through June, hosting nationally- and internationally-recognized experts on various topics. More information and registration regarding the next event will be available soon at www.centerforchildcounseling.org/leadthefight

Partnership sponsors who are leading the fight in making these important and necessary panel conversations possible include: The Breakers Palm Beach and Kathy Leone, The Hanley Foundation, The Haley Foundation, Julie Fisher Cummings and the Lovelight Foundation, SageView Advisory Group, Florida Association for Infant Mental HealthFirst Republic Bank, Lighthouse ArtCenter, Premier Pediatrics, The Journey Institute, Florida Association for Infant Mental Health, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, Stephens & Stevens, Marital and Family Law.

The Center’s Fighting ACEs initiative to build trauma-informed communities is made possible with the generous support of Quantum Foundation, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and private donors.

About Fritzi Horstman:
Fritzi Horstman is the Founder and Executive Director of the Compassion Prison Project (CPP) an organization dedicated to creating trauma-informed prisons and communities, bringing accountability and creative inspiration to all men and women living and working in prisons.

Horstman is a Grammy-award winning producer for her work on “The Defiant Ones”, has been a producer and post-producer on dozens of television projects and documentaries and has directed several films. She believes it is urgent to bring humanity and compassion to those living behind bars and these acts will help transform our society. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Vassar College.

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. As of October 2022, KidSafe Foundation now operates under Center for Child Counseling as the two entities are now stronger together in their education and prevention of child sexual abuse and childhood trauma.

www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

PHOTO IDs:

Fritzi Hostman, Founder and Executive Director of Compassion Prison Project

Eugenia Millender, Ph.D., RN, emcee of the Lead the Fight event; chair of Center for Child Counseling’s Board of Director; co-founder and co-director for the Florida State University Center for Population Sciences for Health Equity; associate professor at the FSU College of Nursing

Click here to view the news release.

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Dr. Gabor Maté Speaks with Local Community About Trauma and Addiction

NEWS RELEASE

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

“Why the pain”: Dr. Gabor Maté Speaks with Local Community About Trauma and Addiction

Dr. Gabor Maté event at The Breakers“Ask not why the addiction, ask why the pain.” This was one of the many profound statements that trauma and addiction expert and international best-selling author Dr. Gabor Maté shared during Part II of Center for Child Counseling’s 2023 Lead the Fight series. Chaired by Kathy Leone, vice chairman of the Community Alliance of Palm Beach County, and Julie Fisher Cummings, co-founder and chairman of Lovelight Foundation, and emceed by WPTV Channel 5’s Ashley Glass, the event took place at The Breakers by special invitation only and online for the public. 

Passionate children’s advocate Kathy Leone opened with asking the “leaders, thinkers, and doers in our community” to join the fight against Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). She explained Center for Child Counseling’s mission of healing trauma and prevention of ACEs and the role it plays on the frontline of seeing and addressing the mental health crisis in our country.

“With over 600 families on the waitlist for crisis counseling, we need more capacity,” stated Leone.

She emphasized the need to shift our current system from “waiting” for a child to fall apart to “preventing” the child from falling apart and putting the onus on every attendee to join the fight against ACEs by bringing the knowledge and awareness back to their organizations, families, friend groups, and schools. 

Dr. Maté then took the “virtual” stage from his home in Canada to address the 75 attendees at The Breakers and more than 200 individuals joining online from 22 different states and 10 different countries. The interactive presentation drew on cutting-edge science to illuminate where and how addictions originate and what they have in common. He believes the source of addictions to be found in the early childhood environment–originating in trauma and emotional loss.

Maté defines addiction as “manifested in any behavior that a person craves, finds temporary relief or pleasure in but suffers negative consequences as a result of, and yet has difficulty giving up.” In brief: creating pleasure, relief in the short term, hard in the long term, inability to give it up. Addiction impulses pain. He noted that addiction can entail substances–both the legal or illegal ones–but can also encompass almost any human behavior–eating, gambling, shopping, working, the internet, gaming, cell phones, etc. 

As any kind of development requires the right conditions, Maté stressed the need for prevention of addiction to begin at the first prenatal visit and continue with the developing brain: “Our most sacred gap, surely as a society, including in our school, is not the teaching of skills and facts but the ensuring of healthy brain development because it continues into adulthood.”

He explained how the interactions of genes and experiences literally shape the developing brain and critically influence the mutual responsiveness of adult-child relationships, particularly in the early childhood years: “The most important influence on a healthy developing brain is the quality of adult-child, really emotional, relationships. That’s what shapes the brain. Now you can understand why kids who have experiences with ACEs will have brains that are predisposed for addictions and mental health issues and auto-immune disease and all kinds of other problems and dysfunctional behaviors.” 

He noted, ACEs are traumatic but they are not the trauma. “Trauma is not what happens to us but the wound that we sustain as a result of what happens to us. So, those adverse childhood experiences are traumatic but the wound is what happens inside of us as a result of them.” 

ACEs often cause severe emotional pain which then the individual has to solve partly by addictive behaviors: not by the addiction but by the pain. 

Maté continued that in addition to children being wounded by the bad things on the ACE roster, they can also be wounded by the good things that do not happen to them–an environment in which their in-born expectations are not met and will result in dysfunction, unhealthy development.

He described the four irreducible needs of children: attachment relationship, rest, validating of emotion, and play. Infants need attachment, a relationship in which they are absolutely secure. Children need rest–the need to exist and know that relationship is there for them no matter what. Children need the support of all of their emotions without being for those emotions, because if their emotions are not supported, the child will begin to depress their emotions. Creative play is an essential need of all mammals, and according to Maté, play is more important for brain development than academic information. He praised Center for Child Counseling for its work surrounding play and play therapy. 

“Yes, adverse childhood experiences are very important to pay attention to and we need to add to them–poverty and racism as well. But many of our kids are also being hurt, not because of those childhood adversities but because their essential human needs are not met in this increasingly toxic and stressed culture.” 

When treating children, Maté underscored the importance of responding to children’s underlying emotional needs that the behaviors and symptoms express. And the same thing with adults, “it is not enough just to focus on the addictive behavior. You also have to ask not ‘Why the addiction, but why the pain? What happened to you and how can we help you heal the trauma that’s underlying your behavior?’”

Maté called for a compassionate approach toward addiction, whether in ourselves or in others: “Never underestimate your power, either working with adults or children. If you show up as an empathetic witness, there’s so much healing that you can initiate, just by compassion and presence.” 

Following the featured presentation and an interactive conversation with the audience, Fisher Cummings called on the attendees in the room and online to join in leading the fight against ACEs by committing to taking action: become ACEs-aware and -informed through training; invest in early childhood development; join the Center’s new Giving Circle; or send letters and information provided by the Center to policy makers urging them to drive supportive change. 

Center for Child Counseling, in conjunction with Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2017, developed ‘Lead the Fight’ in 2016 to bring awareness to system leaders around fighting childhood adversity with advocacy and action. In 2021, the event was transformed into a virtual action series in response to the pandemic and the urgent need to move forward policies and practices that support children’s mental health and resilience. Virtual conversations continued in 2022.

The 2023 Lead the Fight series is continuing with monthly conversations and events through June, hosting nationally- and internationally-recognized experts on various topics. The next event will take place virtually April 19, 2023, and feature Fritzi Horstman with the Compassion Prison Project to bring the community the topic of trauma-informed work among our incarcerated community members. For more information and to register, visit: www.centerforchildcounseling.org/leadthefight

Partnership sponsors who are leading the fight in making these important and necessary panel conversations possible include: The Breakers Palm Beach and Kathy Leone, The Hanley Foundation, The Haley Foundation, Julie Fisher Cummings and the Lovelight Foundation, SageView Advisory Group, Florida Association for Infant Mental HealthFirst Republic Bank, Lighthouse ArtCenter, Premier Pediatrics, The Journey Institute, Florida Association for Infant Mental Health, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, Stephens & Stevens, Marital and Family Law.

The Center’s Fighting ACEs initiative to build trauma-informed communities is made possible with the generous support of Quantum Foundation, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and private donors.

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. As of October 2022, KidSafe Foundation now operates under Center for Child Counseling as the two entities are now stronger together in their education and prevention of child sexual abuse and childhood trauma.

www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

Click here to view the news release.

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CFCC CEO appointed as FAIMH VP

NEWS RELEASE

March 15, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel

Renée Layman Appointed as FAIMH Vice President
Layman continues to advance infant and early childhood mental health, alongside President Dr. Harleen Hutchinson. 

Renée E. Layman, MS, LMHC, was recently appointed as Vice President of Florida Association for Infant Mental Health (FAIMH) Board of Directors. Layman joins Board President Dr. Harleen Hutchinson in leading the nonprofit with further advancing infant and early childhood mental health. 

FAIMH strives to build a community where all children in Florida will be nurtured, emotionally healthy and ready to learn, to develop, and to reach their full potential. FAIMH achieves this by supporting and strengthening the infant and early childhood mental health workforce to better serve the young children and families of Florida together with its local FAIMH Chapters.

According to Dr. Hutchinson, “This vision can only be achieved through authentic relationships and strong partnerships that have a cross-system approach. So, I am grateful to have Renée on this journey with me, because it is by partnering with systems that we are able to achieve our mission. Renée has demonstrated a solid foundation of true relationship building during her experience with the Palm Beach Chapter and with the Center for Child Counseling. She brings passion and drive to help steer FAIMH into a broader direction of innovation and development.”

Layman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with almost thirty years of experience in mental health. As President and Chief Executive Officer for Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) since 2013, she has spearheaded significant initiatives in child and family mental health–specifically related to trauma-informed care and the prevention, awareness, and healing of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Layman’s leadership extends well beyond her work at CFCC. She is the immediate past co-chair of the FAIMH Palm Beach and Martin County Chapter, continuing to serve in a mentoring role for the current chairs. She is past co-chair of the Leadership Palm Beach County Engage program (2014-2016), volunteering with the organization for more than six years and continues to play a leadership role with their Health and Human Services Committee. She is the immediate past president of the Nonprofit Chamber of Palm Beach County and continues to serve on their board to support local nonprofits. She chairs PBC’s Birth to 22 Trauma Sensitive Community Leaders Education Committee. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Florida Network for Youth and Family Services, a not-for-profit statewide organization representing over 30 agencies that serve homeless, runaway, and troubled youth ages six and older and their families. She also serves on the Professional Development Advisory Board for FAU’s College of Social Work and Criminal Justice. This work is in line with her vision to support children and families across Florida.   

As part of FAIMH’s executive leadership team, Layman states,”I hope to continue to advance infant and early childhood mental health in Palm Beach County and across Florida. The work of FAIMH directly connects with Center for Child Counseling’s; so, aligning efforts to focus on prevention and building capacity, especially in light of the youth mental health crisis, is essential.” 

In recognition of her work, Renée received the Women in Leadership Award (WILA) from Executive Women of the Palm Beaches and Leadership Palm Beach County’s President’s Award in 2021, was recognized as Palm Beach County’s Nonprofit Executive of the Year in 2017, and received Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Women of Excellence: Health & Wellness Award in 2011.

Layman has been a passionate advocate for child and family mental health, bringing innovative programs and services for some of the most pressing issues facing vulnerable children and families in Palm Beach County. Under her leadership, Center for Child Counseling has grown to fill critical gaps in children’s mental health in Palm Beach County, using a public health approach that focuses on prevention and early intervention. As an FAIMH board member, she works with leaders statewide to improve the system of care for babies and young children across Florida.

“Infant and early childhood is at the foundation of lifelong health and wellness. FAIMH is working directly with system professionals and organizations so they have effective ways to support babies and young children facing adversity and trauma. I serve to build Florida’s capacity to build healthy families and communities–for a healthier future,” commented Layman.

The FAIMH Board of Directors includes: Dr. Christine Hughes (Executive Director), Dr. Harleen Hutchinson (President), Renée Layman (Vice President), Jackie Romillo (Past President), Charmian Miller (Treasurer), Amy Blechman, Douglas Brown, Maria José Horen, Lillian Perez-Mena, Dr. Kristie Skoglund, Dr. Maite Schenker. 

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. As of October 2022, KidSafe Foundation now operates under Center for Child Counseling as the two entities are now stronger together in their education and prevention of child sexual abuse and childhood trauma.

www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

PHOTO IDs:
Renée Layman

Click here to view the news release.

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Breakfast rallies community members to ‘Lead the Fight’ against ACEs

NEWS RELEASE

February 14, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel

Breakfast rallies community members to ‘Lead the Fight’ against ACEs

“We do not have to wait for a child to fall apart to help.” That was the resounding message in Center for Child Counseling’s 2023 Lead the Fight kick-off event that took place on Thursday, February 9 at Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa. Co-hosted with The Haley Foundation and emceed by WPTV Channel 5’s Ashley Glass, the ‘From ACEs to Safety’ breakfast served as a springboard for important conversations with business, philanthropic, and civic leaders to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma.

120 by-special-invitation-only attendees heard first-hand how feeling safe is essential to positively addressing ACEs and were inspired to help more children feel safe and loved in a challenging world. The breakfast featured: Dr. Jon Sperry, associate professor in the clinical mental health counseling program at Lynn University, and Bailey Hughes, foster/adoptive mother and advocate leading the fight against ACEs.

Center for Child Counseling CEO Renée Layman explained how ACEs impact the health and wellness of our children, families, and entire community. The big issues with which our society is grappling–violence, addiction, child abuse–all have their roots in childhood trauma and ACEs. In 2022, the Center’s clinical programs supported over 7,000 children, many facing unspeakable abuse and trauma. Today, 674 kids are on the agency’s waitlist for services.

Layman emphasized that with limited funding, staffing, and resources, mental health professionals “can’t do it all.” Rather than wait for the child to fall apart emotionally and our societal systems to respond with monies first spent on prosecution and jail, she spoke of prevention with community involvement–“each and every one of us.”

Action and solutions for prevention and early intervention include: utilizing a public health framework; providing free information and resources to parents, teachers, and other adults who raise or work with children; training adults on how to recognize and respond to trauma in children; integrating child mental health screenings and early intervention supports in schools and pediatric offices; fighting child sexual abuse and trafficking with lifesaving personal safety and trafficking prevention eduction; building trauma-informed communities.

“This work cannot be done alone. This work is fueled by individuals, businesses, and foundations who understand our entire success as a community depends on raising healthy children into adults who contribute to the greater workforce, economy, and quality of life for everyone,” stated Layman.

In Dr. Sperry’s engaging keynote address, he explained the global research he conducted in 2019. He traveled to four different continents interviewing therapists from 24 different countries about their perceived competence in providing trauma counseling. He found that the majority of participants reported being unequipped and underprepared to provide trauma counseling.

Given this very concerning reality, especially related to the prevalence of ACEs that has been identified in the trauma literature, Sperry praised Center for Child Counseling for the work they are doing in our community: “The really amazing part about what they are bringing to the community is that they are raising the bar of mental health by training the therapists, the teachers, the different community partners about these concepts.”

Hughes, a former foster mother of 23, adoptive mother of four, and former special educator for the Palm Beach County School District, affirmed Sperry’s sentiments regarding the role Center for Child Counseling is playing in Palm Beach County and beyond. In her testimonial, Hughes recounted her experience fostering and then adopting her daughters, Aria and Asia, and credited the Center for “saving our lives. Without the therapy and skills we gained as a family, our inability to cope with trauma would have stifled any hope for success for our children or our family as a whole.”

Photo by @prizmaphotoShe conveyed the necessity of therapeutic intervention and the benefits of play therapy when parenting a child with extreme trauma. Hughes described her first experience in the playroom with Aria and her therapist where Aria chose “the most violent toys in the room to play with” and pretended to kill Hughes within the first two minutes into the session. 

“I laid dead on that floor while my child acted out an entire traumatic scene that no four-year-old could possibly have known unless they had witnessed it themselves.” 

When the session ended that day, the therapist explained to Hughes that Aria was acting out her trauma because children often do not have the language or development to explain what happened to them. 

“I finally understood the purpose of play therapy…Eunice created a safe place for my daughter to display some of the most treacherous moments of her life. She built a connection that helped her know it was a judgment free zone, and Aria could do and say and be whoever or whatever she wanted to be in that room, and that she would be supported,” Hughes explained.

Without a dry eye in the room, Hughes closed with, “We can all know better and do better. Our job, to ensure a future we all want to be a part of, is to safeguard our children.”

Following the featured speakers, Haley called on the attendees in the room to join in leading the fight against ACEs by committing to taking action: become ACEs aware and informed through training; invest in early childhood development; join the Center’s new Giving Circle; or send letters and information provided by the Center to policy makers urging them to drive supportive change. 

Center for Child Counseling, in conjunction with Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2017, developed ‘Lead the Fight’ in 2016 to bring awareness to system leaders around fighting childhood adversity with advocacy and action. In 2021, the event was transformed into a virtual action series in response to the pandemic and the urgent need to move forward policies and practices that support children’s mental health and resilience. Virtual conversations continued in 2022.

The 2023 Lead the Fight series will continue with monthly conversations and events through June, hosting nationally- and internationally-recognized experts on various topics. With great excitement, Layman closed the breakfast with the announcement that the next event will feature trauma and addiction expert and international best-selling author Dr. Gabor Maté. Kathy Leone, Vice Chairman of the Community Alliance of Palm Beach County, will chair the event at The Breakers. More information and registration will be available soon at www.centerforchildcounseling.org/leadthefight

Partnership sponsors who are leading the fight in making these important and necessary panel conversations possible include: The Haley Foundation, Lovelight Foundation, First Republic Bank, Lighthouse ArtCenter, Premier Pediatrics, Stephens & Stevens, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart Shipley, Florida Association for Infant Mental Health, The Journey Institute, SageView Advisory Group, and WPTV News Channel 5

The Center’s Fighting ACEs initiative to build trauma-informed communities is made possible with the generous support of Quantum Foundation, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and private donors.

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. As of October 2022, KidSafe Foundation now operates under Center for Child Counseling as the two entities are now stronger together in their education and prevention of child sexual abuse and childhood trauma.
www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

PHOTO IDs:

Photo credit: Dario Maldonado, Prizma Photo

Click here to view photo album.

Click here to view the news release.

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CFCC CEO FAIMH appointment

NEWS RELEASE

March 15, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel

Renée Layman Appointed as FAIMH Vice President
Layman continues to advance infant and early childhood mental health, alongside President Dr. Harleen Hutchinson. 

Renée E. Layman, MS, LMHC, was recently appointed as Vice President of Florida Association for Infant Mental Health (FAIMH) Board of Directors. Layman joins Board President Dr. Harleen Hutchinson in leading the nonprofit with further advancing infant and early childhood mental health. 

FAIMH strives to build a community where all children in Florida will be nurtured, emotionally healthy and ready to learn, to develop, and to reach their full potential. FAIMH achieves this by supporting and strengthening the infant and early childhood mental health workforce to better serve the young children and families of Florida together with its local FAIMH Chapters.

According to Dr. Hutchinson, “This vision can only be achieved through authentic relationships and strong partnerships that have a cross-system approach. So, I am grateful to have Renée on this journey with me, because it is by partnering with systems that we are able to achieve our mission. Renée has demonstrated a solid foundation of true relationship building during her experience with the Palm Beach Chapter and with the Center for Child Counseling. She brings passion and drive to help steer FAIMH into a broader direction of innovation and development.”

Layman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with almost thirty years of experience in mental health. As President and Chief Executive Officer for Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) since 2013, she has spearheaded significant initiatives in child and family mental health–specifically related to trauma-informed care and the prevention, awareness, and healing of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Layman’s leadership extends well beyond her work at CFCC. She is the immediate past co-chair of the FAIMH Palm Beach and Martin County Chapter, continuing to serve in a mentoring role for the current chairs. She is past co-chair of the Leadership Palm Beach County Engage program (2014-2016), volunteering with the organization for more than six years and continues to play a leadership role with their Health and Human Services Committee. She is the immediate past president of the Nonprofit Chamber of Palm Beach County and continues to serve on their board to support local nonprofits. She chairs PBC’s Birth to 22 Trauma Sensitive Community Leaders Education Committee. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Florida Network for Youth and Family Services, a not-for-profit statewide organization representing over 30 agencies that serve homeless, runaway, and troubled youth ages six and older and their families. She also serves on the Professional Development Advisory Board for FAU’s College of Social Work and Criminal Justice. This work is in line with her vision to support children and families across Florida.   

As part of FAIMH’s executive leadership team, Layman states,”I hope to continue to advance infant and early childhood mental health in Palm Beach County and across Florida. The work of FAIMH directly connects with Center for Child Counseling’s; so, aligning efforts to focus on prevention and building capacity, especially in light of the youth mental health crisis, is essential.” 

In recognition of her work, Renée received the Women in Leadership Award (WILA) from Executive Women of the Palm Beaches and Leadership Palm Beach County’s President’s Award in 2021, was recognized as Palm Beach County’s Nonprofit Executive of the Year in 2017, and received Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Women of Excellence: Health & Wellness Award in 2011.

Layman has been a passionate advocate for child and family mental health, bringing innovative programs and services for some of the most pressing issues facing vulnerable children and families in Palm Beach County. Under her leadership, Center for Child Counseling has grown to fill critical gaps in children’s mental health in Palm Beach County, using a public health approach that focuses on prevention and early intervention. As an FAIMH board member, she works with leaders statewide to improve the system of care for babies and young children across Florida.

“Infant and early childhood is at the foundation of lifelong health and wellness. FAIMH is working directly with system professionals and organizations so they have effective ways to support babies and young children facing adversity and trauma. I serve to build Florida’s capacity to build healthy families and communities–for a healthier future,” commented Layman.

The FAIMH Board of Directors includes: Dr. Christine Hughes (Executive Director), Dr. Harleen Hutchinson (President), Renée Layman (Vice President), Jackie Romillo (Past President), Charmian Miller (Treasurer), Amy Blechman, Douglas Brown, Maria José Horen, Lillian Perez-Mena, Dr. Kristie Skoglund, Dr. Maite Schenker. 

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. As of October 2022, KidSafe Foundation now operates under Center for Child Counseling as the two entities are now stronger together in their education and prevention of child sexual abuse and childhood trauma.

www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

PHOTO IDs:
Renée Layman

Click here to view the news release.

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Boys & Girls Clubs Becoming Trauma-Informed and ACEs-Aware

NEWS RELEASE
November 4, 2022
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Darla Mullenix from CFCC leads Michael Connors, Mary Freitas, Victor Rivera, and Jaene Miranda from BGCPBC in a brain game.

Boys & Girls Clubs Becoming Trauma-Informed and ACEs-Aware
Center for Child Counseling launches training and starts with the Board of Directors

As part of Center for Child Counseling’s (CFCC) mission to build trauma-informed communities, the local nonprofit recently launched a training series with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County in their effort to become a trauma-informed organization.

According to Dr. Robert Block, former president of American Academy of Pediatrics, “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.”

45% of U.S. children have at least one ACE; 10% have three or more. Research indicates a strong correlation between high ACE scores and health outcomes. Adults with four or more ACEs have five times the depression risk, ten times the intravenous drug use, and 12 times the suicide rate. On average, they die 20 years younger than those with no ACEs.

Research also shows ACEs are not destiny and there are pathways to healing and wellness through buffering relationships and effective, early intervention.

Promoting a trauma-informed workforce with demonstrated knowledge and skills is an important component to comprehensively addressing ACEs in communities and improving long-term health and wellness outcomes.

“For better or worse, we all bring our childhood experiences with us into our adult relationships. Unresolved adversity and trauma can have direct impacts. Stress can overload the ability to manage emotions, not only impacting interactions with children but also with colleagues. If you care about your staff burnout, turnover, and your bottom line, you need to care about ACEs,” stated Renée Layman, CEO of Center for Child Counseling.

Through the Center’s PACEs (Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences) and Trauma-Informed Care Training, CFCC’s CEO and designated leaders provide a customized training schedule to the organization being trained and begin with the CEO, Board of Directors, and leadership team. On Friday, October 28, 2022, CFCC started the training for the Boys & Girls Clubs with its 33-member Board of Directors.

A shared language and understanding from the CEO and throughout all levels of an organization promotes a culture that truly shifts mindsets–providing optimal support for staff that in turn promotes the resilience and wellbeing of children that comes from healthy child-caregiver relationships. It is critical that all adults are equipped with trauma-informed training, strategies, and skills to be able to have trauma-informed conversations with children, youth, and families about difficult things.

“We are most grateful to Renée and her amazing team for the work they are doing in our community and being a part of our recent board retreat as we laid the foundation for a better future at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. We look forward to the continued training for all constituents of the Boys & Girls Clubs,” expressed Jaene Miranda, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.

Next, CFCC will train the Boys & Girls Clubs’ leadership team and then 400+ staff members. The 20 Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Palm Beach County serve more than 10,000 children ages 6-18.

This training is part of CFCC’s overall goal of supporting child-serving organizations in becoming trauma-informed and has been funded through a grant from the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties to promote child and adolescent resilience and equity.

For more information on Center for Child Counseling and its PACEs and Trauma-Informed Care Training for childcare centers, schools, and organizations, visit: centerforchildcounseling.org/traumainformedcare.

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Tackling Child Sexual Abuse in Palm Beach County

By Caitlen Macias, student at the Columbia School of Social Work and Center for Child Counseling Intern

“We are preventing child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and child maltreatment by giving children the tools to access help from trusted adults.”- Laura Askowitz, Director of Strategic Development at Center for Child Counseling, former CEO of KidSafe Foundation.

In our community, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact people of all races, backgrounds, and income levels. According to the CDC, 61% of adults had at least one ACE and 16% had 4 or more types of ACEs. Child sexual abuse is among one of the most common ACEs and a significant public health issue. About 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys in the United States experience child sexual abuse. Of those who are abused, 91% of the time a child is harmed by someone they know and trust.

We need to partner to fight, prevent, and address this problem. KidSafe, now a program of Center for Child Counseling (CFCC), is working to address and prevent child sexual abuse. The merger of the two nonprofit organizations is a strategic partnership to increase prevention education and funding streams to decrease child sexual abuse in Palm Beach County.

KidSafe has focused on providing a public health approach that maximizes impact while emphasizing health and safety. To prevent child sexual abuse, students, teachers, and families need to be knowledgeable and aware of the tactics and grooming techniques that are used to exploit and abuse children in-person and online. KidSafe provides age-appropriate lessons and skill building for children, training for educators, healthcare professionals, camp staff, and resources for families.

Through Stay KidSafe!, a teacher-led educational program, children develop an inner voice and speak out when physical and emotional boundaries are crossed. Empowering children to be confident and self-aware encourages communication with their trusted adults regarding personal safety. “Teachers spend extended periods of time with their students and know them well. We are providing teachers with the tools to be KidSafe ambassadors in the classroom to educate and inspire students”, says Cherie Benjoseph, LCSW.

The curriculum explores a variety of topics depending on the age of the children. In Kindergarten, children learn about their Inner Safety Voice, an internal voice that helps them make safe and smart choices. Children also are introduced to body safety and the Circle of Safe Adults, trusted adults that can help children access help. In 1st and 2nd grade, students continue to develop their Safety Voice while exploring digital safety and learning about boundaries, consent, and bad secrets. In 3rd and 4th grade, students do an in-depth exploration into consent and how to get help if their boundaries are violated. Children use the skills they have learned about personal safety to understand how to navigate the online world that might expose them to cyberbullying, online predators, and inappropriate content.

By 5th grade, students study how to recognize Red Flag warning signs in interpersonal relationships. The entire program repeats important concepts and builds on the previous year’s concepts to make sure children are able to apply the lessons they learn. Stay KidSafe!, is “a kid friendly program that is chunked into digestible bites. The program allows kids to listen, think, reflect on and practice what is taught. The animations and books are engaging and discuss appropriate content”, explains Cori, an Elementary School Teacher.

KidSafe has had reverberating success in the community since 2009! Laura Askowitz recounts a recent success story from the program that changed a child’s outlook. In a 5th grade class, the guidance counselor said that David was a quiet kid who rarely spoke. After receiving the KidSafe programming, he started speaking up and interacting more with the adults and children. David was given a voice and can now speak out if his boundaries are crossed. The program is teaching kids how to identify when their personal, physical, and emotional boundaries are disrespected by anyone. This inspires kids to be their own advocates and access help when peers or adults attempt to engage in inappropriate behavior.

Looking to the future, "we are excited about this merger. It allows for us to work together to increase funding, education, and prevention around child sexual abuse. Through an array of prevention, early intervention, and treatment we aim to not only provide healing after sexual abuse but also create schools and a community equipped to keep children safe”, states Renée Layman, CEO of the Center for Child Counseling.

For more information on the KidSafe’s programming visit: https://learn.kidsafefoundation.org/

Support the KidSafe Campaign in Palm Beach County.

Resources:
https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childsexualabuse/fastfact.html
https://www.centerforchildcounseling.org/ways-to-give/kidsafecampaign/

Boys & Girls Clubs Becoming Trauma-Informed and ACEs-Aware

NEWS RELEASE
November 4, 2022
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Darla Mullenix from CFCC leads Michael Connors, Mary Freitas, Victor Rivera, and Jaene Miranda from BGCPBC in a brain game.

Boys & Girls Clubs Becoming Trauma-Informed and ACEs-Aware
Center for Child Counseling launches training and starts with the Board of Directors

As part of Center for Child Counseling’s (CFCC) mission to build trauma-informed communities, the local nonprofit recently launched a training series with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County in their effort to become a trauma-informed organization.

According to Dr. Robert Block, former president of American Academy of Pediatrics, “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.”

45% of U.S. children have at least one ACE; 10% have three or more. Research indicates a strong correlation between high ACE scores and health outcomes. Adults with four or more ACEs have five times the depression risk, ten times the intravenous drug use, and 12 times the suicide rate. On average, they die 20 years younger than those with no ACEs.

Research also shows ACEs are not destiny and there are pathways to healing and wellness through buffering relationships and effective, early intervention.

Promoting a trauma-informed workforce with demonstrated knowledge and skills is an important component to comprehensively addressing ACEs in communities and improving long-term health and wellness outcomes.

“For better or worse, we all bring our childhood experiences with us into our adult relationships. Unresolved adversity and trauma can have direct impacts. Stress can overload the ability to manage emotions, not only impacting interactions with children but also with colleagues. If you care about your staff burnout, turnover, and your bottom line, you need to care about ACEs,” stated Renée Layman, CEO of Center for Child Counseling.

Through the Center’s PACEs (Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences) and Trauma-Informed Care Training, CFCC’s CEO and designated leaders provide a customized training schedule to the organization being trained and begin with the CEO, Board of Directors, and leadership team. On Friday, October 28, 2022, CFCC started the training for the Boys & Girls Clubs with its 33-member Board of Directors.

A shared language and understanding from the CEO and throughout all levels of an organization promotes a culture that truly shifts mindsets–providing optimal support for staff that in turn promotes the resilience and wellbeing of children that comes from healthy child-caregiver relationships. It is critical that all adults are equipped with trauma-informed training, strategies, and skills to be able to have trauma-informed conversations with children, youth, and families about difficult things.

“We are most grateful to Renée and her amazing team for the work they are doing in our community and being a part of our recent board retreat as we laid the foundation for a better future at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. We look forward to the continued training for all constituents of the Boys & Girls Clubs,” expressed Jaene Miranda, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.

Next, CFCC will train the Boys & Girls Clubs’ leadership team and then 400+ staff members. The 20 Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Palm Beach County serve more than 10,000 children ages 6-18.

This training is part of CFCC’s overall goal of supporting child-serving organizations in becoming trauma-informed and has been funded through a grant from the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties to promote child and adolescent resilience and equity.

For more information on Center for Child Counseling and its PACEs and Trauma-Informed Care Training for childcare centers, schools, and organizations, visit: centerforchildcounseling.org/traumainformedcare.

###

Bridging the Healthcare Gap for Kids in Palm Beach County

By Caitlen Macias, student at the Columbia School of Social Work and Center for Child Counseling Intern

The Center for Child Counseling is paving a healthy future for children in Palm Beach County through its integrative and holistic healthcare approach. We understand that mental and physical health is vital to the well-being of the child and their life outcomes. Pediatricians are on the front lines, observing, interacting, and serving children; they are often the first to notice the impact of mental health and behavioral concerns. 75% of children are seen in primary care settings and pediatricians are the trusted experts for much of a child's life. CFCC’s innovative Pediatric Integration Program is now collaborating with Palm Beach Pediatrics to provide counseling services and care coordination support to children and families in our community.

The Need:
According to the CDC, poor mental health among children continues to be a substantial public health concern. ADHD and anxiety for all ages and depression among adolescents continue to be the most common concerns displayed by children. Locally in 2021, Palm Beach County focus groups were conducted with 299 PBC residents who mentioned that diabetes, cancer, asthma, substance use, heart disease, and poor mental health were among the top health issues with which they, their families, or their community struggle.

In Palm Beach County alone there are six mental health professional shortage areas. “The need is so great in our area, we are in dire need of more therapists. Our team is receiving overwhelming amounts of referrals from pediatricians, unfortunately, we don’t have enough therapists to satisfy the demand” says CEO Renée Layman." We provide families the resources they need while they await services, many of their needs are met through care coordination and consultations”.

The Solution:
Our model has been implemented using the recommendations of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for integrated care. The program administers care at the Level 5 benchmark, the second highest level which emphasizes close collaboration between care coordinators, pediatricians, and therapists to serve clients and families.

CFCC’s Pediatric Integration Program is intertwining and prioritizing the mental and behavioral health of children in our area by allowing pediatricians to make referrals for services to the Center for Child Counseling and other mental health providers.

Furthermore, our expert care coordinators (pictured to the left) assist families with other kinds of resources to satisfy their basic and home needs. This might include connecting families with housing, helping them apply for SNAP benefits, or coordinating child care. “Clients and families are on a spectrum of need, our team is seeking to meet the basic needs of our families to help them overcome adversity,” says Kelly Benavidez an Intake Care Coordinator for the Pediatric Integration Program.

Our Progress:
Our Pediatric Integration Program just celebrated its first birthday! October 1st of this year officially marks the start of year 2 of the program. Over the last year, we have collected data to track our progress and impact. Almost 90% of clients in the program demonstrated an improvement in overall social-emotional functioning during the last 3 months as measured by a decrease in the client’s Children's Functional Assessment Rating Scale, CFARS scores. 86.9% of clients enrolled in the program experienced a decrease in CFARS scores across the past year since the program was implemented.

Clients in the program have also reported success and improvement in their overall mental health. An 18-year-old male sought services to address symptoms of anxiety and depression and had previously planned to participate in college virtually and remain at home due to social anxiety. After learning how to cope more adaptively and communicate his feelings, he recently reported his decision to attend college in person as a part of his journey toward overcoming feelings of anxiety and depression. This client demonstrated improvement in functioning across domains as evidenced by a decrease in overall CFARS score. He has been successfully discharged from services and has been able to maintain progress made in treatment.

Improving and Expanding:
To expand the program, we have recently hired a new full-time therapist who has already begun building her caseload and improving the lives of clients. Our team continues to collaborate with Care Coordination who can facilitate a warm handoff to clinicians both inside and outside of the program. To serve families in need, our Intake Care Coordinator has continued to engage with new referrals to provide psychoeducational and community resources to clients and families who are currently awaiting services.

In a group setting, the Pediatric Integration Program has implemented a psychoeducational group for teen girls experiencing symptoms of anxiety. As a result of this prevention strategy, all group participants no longer felt that their symptoms rose to the level of requiring mental health therapy services. At the individual level, a 7-year-old client was able to participate in a psychoeducational group about anxiety in which she was able to learn adaptive coping skills, how to reframe negative thoughts, and the impact of self-talk on feelings of anxiety.

Looking ahead, “we are excited to continue to expand the program by hiring more staff and collaborating with partners to fill the growing need for mental health services in our community”, says Mackenzie Halley, Director of Pediatric Integration. In the future, we hope our model can be replicated across Florida and the United States to unite healthcare sectors and connect children and families with the support and services they need.

A special thank you to Palm Beach County Community Services Department, Quantum Foundation, and the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation for providing funding to support this program.

Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine, President of Palm Beach Pediatrics

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