Center for Child Counseling Expands – Child First Program in South County

Child First Clinicians Vanessa Gomez and Cynthia Nicholas

Center for Child Counseling is delighted to announce that we have expanded, doubling the capacity of our Child First Program. Funded by the Children’s Services of Palm Beach County, Child First is a national, evidence-based, two-generation model that works with very vulnerable young children and families, providing intensive, home-based services.

When young children grow up in environments where there is violence, neglect, mental illness, or substance abuse, the stress can be toxic to their developing brains. The good news is that we can intervene to prevent this damage. Scientific research demonstrates that we can make a difference if we:
• Work to connect families to community-based services that alleviate their stress
• Build strong, loving, parent-child relationships that protect and heal the brain from trauma

The most unique aspect of the program is the special way it uses a dyadic (two-way) approach to helping children by also addressing issues their parents might be experiencing or have experienced in the past.

To help a child we must help the family. All parents/caregivers want to give their children the best possible opportunity to succeed. When caregivers face multiple stressors and their basic needs are not met, it is difficult for them to focus on the emotional and developmental needs of their children.

  • Caregivers’ own life experiences influence their perceptions and understanding of their child, and their ability to nurture and support their child’s development.
  • Caregivers and children are best served within a “system of care” in which assessment, access to services, treatment, follow-up, and relationships with community-based services are facilitated by well-trained professional staff.

Impact of Child First

Rigorous research shows that Child First families become stronger and healthier. Results of a randomized, controlled trial demonstrated that at 12 month follow-up, Child First intervention families had strong positive outcomes:

  • Child First children were 68% less likely to have language problems and 42% less likely to have aggressive and defiant behaviors.
  • Child First mothers had 64% lower levels of depression and/or mental health problems.
  • Child First families were 39% less likely to be involved with child protective services, which was sustained at 33% at 3 year follow-up.
  • Child First families had a 98% increase in access to community services supports.
Child First Clinical Director Karen Haag

Center for Child Counseling is excited to welcome the Child First to our organization, serving vulnerable young children in Southern Palm Beach County.

Currently, the team includes:
• Karen Haag – Clinical Director
• Maria Matos – Data Specialist
• Cynthia Nicholas – Clinician
• Vanessa Gomez – Clinician
• Deidre Phillips – Care Coordinator

We are also pleased to announce that we are building capacity to serve more families! We are hiring Clinicians and Care Coordinators to serve Southern Palm Beach County.

Contact us to learn more or submit your résumé.

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