Jane Robinson Receives Viola Brody Award from Florida Association for Play Therapy.

NEWS RELEASE
May 22, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

 

Founder of Local Nonprofit Honored for Her Work with Children in Play Therapy
Jane Robinson receives Viola Brody Award from Florida Association for Play Therapy.

Jane Robinson has been championing children in Palm Beach County for more than 25 years, advocating for their mental health through play therapy. Robinson was recently honored with the Viola Brody Award for being an outstanding Florida Play Therapist. 

Since 2005, the Florida Association for Play Therapy (FAPT) has honored an outstanding Florida Play Therapist at the FAPT Annual Conference with the Viola Brody Award– established in recognition and in memory of Viola Brody, Ph.D. who is considered a pioneer in play therapy for developing a theoretical approach called Developmental Play Therapy.

“Jane is an outstanding play therapist and, like Dr. Brody, has been a pioneer for her work in bringing play therapy to children and families in Palm Beach County in the 1990s. She has trained thousands of members of the community in play therapy. Jane is a source of knowledge and inspiration, and bar none, she is most deserving of this award,” stated Renée Layman, CEO and president of Center for Child Counseling

Robinson founded Palm Beach Gardens-based nonprofit Center for Child Counseling in 1999 as All ‘Bout Children. Although Robinson retired in May 2013, she continues to work as a consultant to Layman and volunteers her time training through the Center’s Institute for Clinical Training and providing support to the clinical supervisors. Robinson founded the organization with the vision of providing free mental health services to the youngest and most vulnerable children in the county. 

As a licensed mental health counselor, registered play therapist supervisor, and certified infant mental health specialist through The Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy at Florida State University, Robinson served as a strong advocate for young children in our community. In her leadership role in the area of early childhood mental health, she collaborated with the local community colleges and universities in training students, teachers, and graduate-level mental health counselor/social worker interns in play therapy for the young child (ages birth-5). She has presented to teachers, directors, and supervisors in child development centers and professional, local, and national conferences on mental health for the young child. Robinson created a manual, “Managing Feelings and Behavior in the Classroom and at Home,” which has been updated and is used by the Center as a guide and reference for teachers and parents of young children. She co-authored a chapter titled “Play Therapy Techniques with Very Young At-Risk Children in Child Care Settings” published in the book “Play Therapy with Very Young Children,” edited by Dr. Charles Shaefer. 

“I am humbled to be a recipient of the Viola Brody Award. Early in my career as a play therapist, I found a book, “Dialogue of Touch: Developmental Play Therapy,” by Viola Brody. I read it, took workshops with Viola, and sat with her for a snack at the National Association for Play Therapy Conferences around 1998-2000. Viola’s training gave me insight on how to work with the very youngest (infant to 3 years) and their caregivers in child care centers. Viola gave me the tools needed to model the importance of developmentally-appropriate touch, support, and attachment for the well-being of the very young child and those older who did not receive the care at a young age. I will be forever grateful,” said Robinson.

Criteria to receive the Viola Brody Award include: being a member of FAPT/APT for at least five years; making an outstanding contribution to the field of Play Therapy in the State of Florida, nationally, or internationally; and not being a current FAPT Board Member or a member of the FAPT Award Committee. 

Other recognition that Robinson has received includes: Volunteer of the Year for Play Therapy and Teacher Training by the YMCA of Boca Raton, FL, in 2000; the Mary Bondarin Award for Service to Children and Families by the Association of Education for the Young Child of the Palm Beaches in 2004; a “notable” (person who cares about their community) by the Palm Beach Post in 2005. She was also nominated for the 2011 “Purpose Prize,” a national award for people over 60 who combine their passion and experience for social good. 

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

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CFCC Opens New Location in West Palm Beach

NEWS RELEASE
May 13, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com
561-632-6747

Local Nonprofit Opens New Location to Serve Kids and Families on Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Center for Child Counseling holds a ribbon cutting for its newest location in West Palm Beach.

Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) has expanded its prevention, education, and mental health services in the heart of West Palm Beach. A ribbon cutting and open house took place on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Thursday, May 9, 2024, at the newest space located at the U.B. Kinsey Educational and Community Center in West Palm Beach.

This additional location will be a hub for child and family health in West Palm Beach, along with the other community organizations housed at the U.B. Kinsey facility–Children’s Home Society’s Bridges and FAU Community Health. CFCC’s placement at U.B. Kinsey is a result of FAU Community Health’s community survey which listed mental health services as the number one priority.

Dr. Eugenia Millender, current chair of CFCC’s board of directors and former head of FAU Community Health in Westgate, was part of the initial vision of the new space and shared a few words about the need for this facility in the community.

“One of the things we want to make sure we do is embed mental health services in every community, in every child center, in every community center, in every school,” stated Millender.

She discussed the importance of mental fitness as a way to deal with the hardships of life and the necessity to prepare individuals for what the world will bring–preparing “the mother, the father, the aunt, the grandparent to be able to provide better care for their child, grandchild to become wonderful, beautiful citizens.” 

This new location has allowed CFCC to create two safe spaces–a training room and a family room. The family room is designed as two-dimensional to serve both the child and caregivers. The agency will offer family support groups, infant mental health, circles of security.

“Parents can see live, right here, how to play with their child. They’ll practice together. They will build bonds and connections…we need to bring them together and create safety and connection that’s really going to promote their mental health and wellbeing,” explained CEO and President Renée Layman. 

Layman emphasized the importance of having spaces like these in schools, child care centers, and community centers for children and families as a means for creating positive childhood experiences (PCEs)–the antidote to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). 

According to Dr. Millender, “It was a beautiful vision that we started a long time ago…bringing different organizations under one roof to provide better care for the whole community.”

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. 

CFCC’s office locations include: Child and Family First Center, 5205 Greenwood Avenue, West Palm Beach; Admin and Child First Office, 8895 N. Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens; Child First Office South, 2328 10th Avenue North, Lake Worth; and U.B. Kinsey Educational and Community Center, 720 8th Street, West Palm Beach. CFCC’s services and therapists are also integrated within schools, childcare centers, and pediatric offices throughout Palm Beach County.

For more information, visit: centerforchildcounseling.org.

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DeSantises Name Local Mother Florida Hero

NEWS RELEASE
May 2, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

DeSantises Name Local Mother Florida Hero:
Bailey Hughes Recognized for Her Selfless Dedication in Delivering Help and Hope to Foster Children and Families 

Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis honored Bailey Hughes, executive director and co-founder of local nonprofit The Hands and Feet, as a Florida Hero on Friday, April 26. The DeSantises welcomed heroes from across the state of Florida to the Governor’s Residence to recognize them for their selfless contributions and for exhibiting exceptional courage, compassion, and resilience in the face of adversity.

Hughes was one of seventy-five Florida Heroes honored at the ceremony, including first responders, doctors, veterans, law enforcement, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, parents, and innovators who have all exhibited bravery and self-sacrifice. Also honored were members of the community who have dedicated themselves to helping others overcome adversity through nonprofit efforts, adoption and foster care, careers in education, and advocacy.

“This evening it was a privilege to recognize and personally thank each Florida Hero in attendance for their selfless dedication to their communities and our state,” said Governor DeSantis. “In Florida, we want to recognize and extoll the virtues of selflessness and service, and these 75 individuals embodied those virtues through their actions and achievements.”

Hughes is a wife, mother, and former special educator for the Palm Beach County School District. She and her husband fostered 23 children and adopted 4 of those children. 

Before becoming a foster parent in 2016, Hughes was a special education elementary teacher at a Title 1 school in a self-contained Emotional Behavioral Disabilities unit. Working with some of the most vulnerable and hurting children, Hughes saw firsthand how the mental health world for children was desperately lacking. She found success in helping these children by educating herself, watching her peers, and listening to parents who found themselves in the depths of their child’s mental health struggles. She successfully was able to advocate for services, change of school or classroom placement, and assist families over her years as a teacher.

After leaving the classroom in 2018 and in the midst of fostering children, Hughes still found herself advocating on a daily basis. Whether supporting a fellow foster or adoptive family in the trenches with their child, or fighting for her own children, Hughes has seen how much just being a voice for someone in a time of need can mean. She has been a part of a child’s healing from the immense trauma that can sometimes take place in a child’s life–through play therapy, psychiatric services, and community help.

Hughes joined Center for Child Counseling’s Board of Directors in 2020 to help move forward the agency’s mission of promoting positive mental health for children and families and preventing and healing the effects of adverse childhood experiences and trauma. She continues to be an integral member of the board today, often sharing her family’s personal story, including the positive, life-changing, and healing effects the Center had on her children.

In addition to witnessing the deep trauma that children within Palm Beach County face on a daily basis, Hughes also experienced the gap in resources for foster and kinship families. For instance, Hughes knows story after story of infants and children being dropped off at foster families’ doors with nothing but a soiled diaper or dirty clothes–no formula, car seat, crib, shoes…no essentials. These repeated circumstances led Hughes and her sister, Makayla Doolin, to co-found The Hands and Feet in 2021–a nonprofit organization that provides essential items to children and families so that they can know the support of a caring, loving community. The impactful agency brings a sense of comfort to a terrifying situation.

“We strive to be the hands and feet that deliver resources to the most vulnerable children and families in our community because every person should know they are loved and supported despite their circumstances. Consider us doordash for foster care–we deliver nearly everything a child entering, or at risk of entering, foster care needs to cover the gap,” stated Hughes.

The Hands and Feet started out serving Palm Beach County. Today, it also serves the Treasure Coast and Broward County–delivering items such as: clothes, shoes, socks, undergarments, school uniforms and supplies, hygiene items, formula, diapers, wipes, car seats, baby items and gear, cribs and toddler beds, beddings, comfort items, and toys. In less than three years, The Hands and Feet has served more than 5,500 children across six counties in Florida. 

“We are proud tonight to share the goodness of Floridians,” said First Lady DeSantis. “We were glad to highlight the inspiring stories of first responders, community leaders, foster parents, veterans, doctors, and others.”

Hughes, along with the 74 other Florida Heroes, had her change-making story shared during a recognition ceremony and displayed throughout the Governor’s Residence. 

“It was a wild night to be invited to the Governor’s mansion. What an honor!” exclaimed Hughes.

About The Hands and Feet
The Hands and Feet was established in 2021 to deliver help and hope to children and families with an open child welfare case. They deliver nearly everything a child entering, or at risk of entering, foster care needs to cover the gap–from tangible goods, like clothes, shoes, and car seats, to the kind of emotional support only people who have experienced the process can offer. The Hands and Feet acts as an immediate resource for foster families, biological parents, relative caregivers, and aged-out foster youth. For more information, visit: thehandsandfeet.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

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GL Homes Helps Center for Child Counseling Honor Donors and Community Partners at Palm Beach Yacht Club

April 30, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

GL Homes Helps Center for Child Counseling Honor Donors and Community Partners at Palm Beach Yacht Club

GL Homes, a community partner of Center for Child Counseling, hosted an evening celebrating the generosity of other community partners and supporters of the Palm Beach Gardens-based nonprofit on Friday, April 12, 2024, at the Palm Beach Yacht Club. 

Since 1999, Center for Child Counseling has been providing care for children in Palm Beach County. Chief Executive Officer Renée Layman celebrated this milestone 25th anniversary year with friends, partners, and strong advocates for children and families in the county.

“The Center for Child Counseling provides an invaluable mental health service, one that isn’t duplicated. Through play therapy, the caring team of therapists allow children to feel safe, loved, and protected. GL Homes applauds the care and compassion our most vulnerable youth receive from these dedicated professionals,” stated GL Homes Vice President of Community Relations Sarah Alsofrom.

50 guests enjoyed cocktails and food and were the first to hear about the Center’s impact on children and families in 2023 with the reveal of the agency’s annual community impact report. 

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

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Pediatric Society Reconvenes for the First Time Since COVID to Discuss How to Integrate Mental Health into Primary Care

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

Pediatric Society Reconvenes for the First Time Since COVID to Discuss How to Integrate Mental Health into Primary Care

Palm Beach Pediatric Society joins Center for Child Counseling in leading the fight in children’s mental health. 

In partnership with the Palm Beach Pediatric Society, the Center for Child Counseling continued its Lead the Fight series to move forward its efforts addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma with the healthcare providers who are on the frontlines of seeing children and families. Part one of a three-part series, The Trauma-Informed Pediatric Practice: We Are the Boots on the Ground, took place April 17, 2024, at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach. 

Led by Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine, president of the Palm Beach Pediatric Society and medical director of Center for Child Counseling, this initial part of the series focused on how pediatric medical professionals can provide pediatric mental health integration by being trauma-informed in their primary care and subspecialty offices.

“When we look at our systems–whether it’s our schools, our legal systems, our department of juvenile justice, our medical system with our pediatricians–you are often the most trusted person in a child’s life, in a family’s life,” stated Renée Layman, president and CEO of Center for Child Counseling, in her opening address to the more than 80 pediatric healthcare providers and community partners in attendance. 

Fox-Levine emphasized that as often the person a parent or family turns to when in crisis, the primary care and subspecialty pediatric providers should be armed with the tools to identify mental health risks. Since physical health and mental health cannot be separated, pediatric medical professionals are at the forefront of the youth mental health crisis. She discussed the impact of childhood trauma into adulthood: from depression, higher risk of suicide, incarceration to the risks of cancer, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases.

“We protect kids, that’s our mission, preventative care to keep them healthy, to keep them from getting those illnesses, like polio. So, we really need to think of that as we leave here tonight…setting that mission for all of us is to think of it more of those effects of trauma on children, what that looks like for that adult. And what the impact of finding those kids now through our recommended screening processes will do for those same adults in the future,” said Fox-Levine.

The presentation provided the practical strategies and toolkit of resources necessary for the healthcare providers to address children’s mental health needs–screening early and connecting children and families to the appropriate care and support offered in Palm Beach County. 

Center for Child Counseling team members–Mackenzie Halley, director of the pediatric integration program, and Jibby Ciric, senior director of strategic impact–provided an overview of adverse childhood experiences and adverse community experiences and how to create a trauma-informed community to support a child’s development and to recognize and stop childhood trauma. 

This event marked the first time in more than four years that the Palm Beach Pediatric society convened. The primary pediatric providers had the opportunity to talk to each other about the mental health crisis that all pediatricians are seeing and offer each other peer support. 

In 2015, Center for Child Counseling launched Fighting ACEs to build awareness and action to mitigate the impact of ACEs and build well-being through Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs). In conjunction with Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2017, the Center developed ‘Lead the Fight’ in 2016 to bring awareness to system leaders around fighting childhood adversity with advocacy and action. Since that time, the agency has educated tens of thousands of parents, professionals, and systems leaders. 

Partnership sponsors who are leading the fight in making these important conversations and educational series possible include: BeWellPBC, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County; Florida Association for Infant Mental Health; Hanley Foundation, Palm Beach Pediatrics, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County, Mead Johnson/Enfamil, and Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley

CFCC’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.

CFCC’s pediatric integration program is made possible thanks to the support of Quantum Foundation, The Frederick DeLuca Foundation, and Palm Beach County Community Services Department

Part 2 of the Lead the Fight 2024 series, The Superheroes Have Arrived, will take place on August 28. The event focus will be on how Palm Beach County Schools are helping students in mental health crisis with the CAPE Team and other mental health services.

Part 3, Positivity Will Give HOPE for Our Future, is scheduled for December 4, and will feature understanding the effect of Positive Childhood Experiences on countering the long-term possible effect of Adverse Childhood Experiences.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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