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Senator Harrell and Rep. Roth Present $300,000 in State Funding to Center for Child Counseling

NEWS RELEASE
September 11, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Senator Harrell and Rep. Roth Present $300,000 in State Funding to Center for Child Counseling
Meeting the mental health crisis and staffing frontline responders. 

The data is alarming: In 2021, 41.5% of Palm Beach County high school students reported that they felt hopeless, and 20.7% of total high school students seriously contemplated suicide (PBC Youth Behavioral Health Survey). Florida Senator Gayle Harrell (District 31) and Florida Representative Rick Roth (District 94) presented a check for $300,000 to the Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) on Friday, September 8, 2023, in response to the children’s mental health crisis.

In conjunction with the check presentation, there was a discussion related to how the appropriations will be used to mitigate the crisis. The Center serves around 7,000 children and families each year in Palm Beach County, and there is still a waitlist. The funding will directly address the extreme backlog of 800 children on average waiting for services from the Center. The project will build a department of frontline responders–mental health and program specialists–to immediately support children and adolescents waiting for care right now. The approach also focuses on building caregiver and community capacity to support children’s mental health. 

According to the Center’s CEO Renée Layman, “No child in crisis belongs on a waitlist when a parent or caregiver has reached out for help.

With this funding, mental health and program specialists will provide immediate triage and care for the children and families waiting for services from Center for Child Counseling. 

In Senator Harrell’s address to the more than twenty mental health specialists and staff in the room, she emphasized the work the State of Florida is doing with respect to the resources allocated to our schools but recognized that the need of addressing children’s mental health extends beyond the schools. 

“I think early intervention is absolutely the key, and the way to go…We need more mental health counselors. We need more therapists who are really frontline…We need therapists to do treatment and that is essential,” stated Senator Harrell.

One in four children in Florida is experiencing a mental health or behavioral concern: “It is crucial that we address this crisis, for the immediate and long-term well-being and resilience of Florida’s children and families,” added Layman.

The Center has transformed the approach to mental health care–using a public health framework of prevention, early intervention, and treatment to address the current crisis and build capacity for the future. It includes tiered implementation of services that prevent adverse childhood experiences, provide early intervention to mitigate mental health concerns and trauma, and support children and families in crisis. Services are provided where children, adolescents, and families need them most–in-person (office, school, home, and community based) and virtual activities, including: mental health support groups and education; 1:1 mental health consultation for parents and adult caregivers; and a campaign to educate the wider community on how to support children’s mental health and resilience. Prevention services include community and statewide education for parents and adult caregivers on specific mental health topics to build the ability of all adults to support children’s mental health and well-being. 

Layman expressed her gratitude to both Senator Harrell and Rep. Roth, “We are so proud of this and so grateful to you for making this happen. This is a big dream that you’re making a reality; so, thank you. For the kids that we’re serving, it means everything.” 

Senator Harrell is the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services, and Rep. Roth is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. 

About Center for Child Counseling
Since 1999, Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County. 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. For more information visit, centerforchildcounseling.org.
Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

PHOTO ID:

Photo credit: Tracey Benson Photography

(L-R) Florida Representative Rick Roth, Florida Senator Gayle Harrell, CEO of Center for Child Counseling Renée Layman, and lobbyist Matt Spritz stand with $300,000 check presented to the Center to help with the children’s mental health crisis.

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Morgridge Family Safeguards Children with Support to Center for Child Counseling

NEWS RELEASE

July 3, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Morgridge Family Safeguards Children with Support to Center for Child Counseling $39,000 grant expands Stay KidSafe!™ program to prevent child sexual abuse.

[Palm Beach Gardens, FL]–The Center for Child Counseling has been awarded a generous grant of $39,600 from the Morgridge Family Foundation. This significant contribution will empower the Center to expand its Stay KidSafe!™ program, aimed at preventing child sexual abuse and trafficking by providing robust education and awareness.

The Center for Child Counseling specializes in offering expert care and support to children who have experienced unspeakable and heartbreaking trauma, such as sexual abuse, violence, human trafficking, and exploitation. Tragically, many of these incidents could be prevented with increased awareness and understanding of the warning signs. Stay KidSafe!™ seeks to address this critical need through online training designed to provide students and educators with the awareness and knowledge needed to prevent child sexual abuse. The curriculum, developed by a team of sexual abuse prevention experts with decades of experience, utilizes engaging, child-friendly content, including professionally animated videos and age-appropriate safety skills and lessons.

Recently, Impact the Palm Beaches awarded a grant for the Center to provide Palm Beach County schools and childcare centers with Stay KidSafe–impacting more than 7,000 children and more than 4,000 adults in the county. The Morgridge Family Foundation’s grant supports the implementation of this curriculum with toolkits for schools, caregivers, and child-serving organizations. The branded toolkits include books, posters, visual aids, and awareness materials that empower adults to become active participants in preventing and stopping sexual predators and human traffickers.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that every child is safe and protected. The Center for Child Counseling’s impactful Stay KidSafe!™ program plays a critical role in safeguarding the most vulnerable children,” said Carrie Morgridge, co-founder of the Morgridge Family Foundation. “We are proud to provide additional resources to further strengthen the Center’s programs and expand its impact. Together, we will pave the way for a brighter, safer future.”

The outreach initiative and educational materials aim to create a culture of safety and awareness for families and schools, protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. This grant support, coupled with the Center’s strong community partnerships, further amplifies the impact of the Stay KidSafe!™ program, ensuring that the education and resources are readily available to all child serving organizations and schools at no cost.

“We are immensely grateful for the Morgridge Family Foundation’s generous grant,” said Renée Layman, CEO of the Center for Child Counseling. “This funding will allow us to enhance the efficacy and reach of Stay KidSafe!™, making a significant impact in ensuring every child grows up feeling safe. Together, we are working to create a society where every child is protected from harm and can thrive.”

For more information about the Center for Child Counseling and their programs, please visit www.centerforchildcounseling.org.

About Center for Child Counseling:

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

 

About Morgridge Family Foundation:

The Morgridge Family Foundation (MFF) invests in leaders and organizations that are reimagining solutions to some of today’s biggest challenges. The problems of the 21st century can’t be compartmentalized. Neither can MFF’s work. By bringing different sectors to the table, the foundation creates meaningful connections that foster innovation as a vehicle for systematic change. MFF offers vision, community, and resources to support a network of partners achieving their profound impact. Morgridgefamilyfoundation.org

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Melissa Haley Joins Center for Child Counseling’s Board of Directors

NEWS RELEASE
June 27, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Melissa Haley Joins Center for Child Counseling’s Board of Directors

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

Haley is the founder and president of The Haley Foundation which has the philanthropic mission to partner with and advocate for like-minded nonprofit providers to achieve the greatest possible impact on human health and quality of life and to improve healthcare initiatives that enhance the health of communities. 

Renée Layman, chief executive officer of Center for Child Counseling, stated, “I am incredibly grateful to have Melissa as a member of our board to help our agency continue to heal the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and keep us pushing, innovating, and taking the right risks to bring prevention to the forefront of the fight against ACEs.”  

With respect to Haley’s involvement with the Center, she has been a donor since 2021 and co-hosted the kickoff event for CFCC’s 2023 Lead the Fight series. She currently chairs the Circle of Giving where she encourages others to take action towards a brighter future. She brings a wealth of expertise and passion to the Center for Child Counseling Board of Directors, including business ownership and management skills and advocacy to improve the lives of women, children, families, and communities. 

According to Haley, “I understand through personal experience the importance of a childhood free of trauma and full of love and compassion. Sometimes those elements are not available and children suffer and grow into adults with difficulties and challenges that, otherwise, with early intervention may have been avoided. I believe in the mission and programs being developed by CFCC and am privileged to now serve on the board of directors to support and advocate for their life-changing work.” 

The other members of Center for Child Counseling’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; Jennifer Ferriol, director; Bailey Hughes, 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:

Melissa Haley

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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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Keeping Kids Safe at Camp

 

Camp Safety Tips

By Cherie Benjoseph, MSW, LCSW, Child Safety Expert, Director of National Outreach

If you could go back to any age what would it be? The first thing that comes to my mind is my amazing summers at sleep-away camp, starting at age 8 (yep, you read that right). Many who know me might be surprised that I am a huge supporter of sending kids to overnight camp. But yes, I am – provided that camp is properly vetted for safety. That’s where you come in.

The KidSafe philosophy is to empower children and families with skills for a lifetime, so that kids can spread their wings and fly and parents can feel confident their kids can manage whatever comes their way. This includes not missing out on the benefits of attending camp (day or overnight).

So, are you contemplating the big step of sending your child off to camp for a week, a month, even two months? Will you send them to a camp you went to as a child? To a camp you found online? To one a friend or neighbor raved about? So many questions. How to get the answers you need?

As you make these decisions, we ask that you take a step back and consider how best to choose a camp for your child. We ask that you look beyond the glossy website photos and consider whether a camp makes safety their number one priority. And not just water and recreation safety.

Often when researching a camp, we focus only on a child’s special interests, say sports, or theater, or horses, or IT, or culinary arts. Or perhaps the camp is located in a preferred part of the country or has a specific religious affiliation that feels right to you. All of these items are important – but don’t forget to ask the tough questions about safety. Questions similar to those you would ask when vetting a potential new hire. Don’t assume that the camp you are considering is doing the same level of screening you would expect or want.

As you research camps, consider the following:

Meet the camp director. Your child will be in that person’s care. Do this in person or by video. Ask direct questions, such as:

  1. How and from where is your staff recruited? What is your screening process? (Does the camp check employment histories? Seek references? Retain employees from one season to the next vs constant staff turnover? Conduct in-person or video interviews with individuals seeking employment)?
  2. Confirm that the camp does a national criminal fingerprint background check. (If a camp only provides a background check without detailed screening, that signals lack of due diligence in their hiring practice).
  3. Is each staff member screened through the National Sex Offender Registry? (This includes all counselors, admin, dining, maintenance, and anyone else on camp premises).
  4. Ask if the camp has a Child Protection Policy. This is a policy that all staff sign which includes codes of conduct, clear policy on sexual misconduct, and procedures to be followed in response to reports of abuse. It is always a good idea to request a copy of a camp’s Child Protection Policy.
  5. Ask what type of training the staff receive regarding:
    • Sexual abuse intervention, prevention, and reporting
    • Bullying intervention and response
    • Child abuse, both physical and emotional
  6. What type of supervision do you provide to the staff who are minding your campers?
  7. If camper or staff member wishes to report a concern, what are your procedures for facilitating such reports and for appropriate follow-up?
  8. Are you licensed by the state? If so, may I obtain a copy of your license?
  9. Are you accredited by the American Camp Association? If so, may I obtain a copy of ACA certification?

Having this kind of conversation with a camp director will help you determine whether a camp not only offers awesome activities and food but is also built on a solid foundation of professionalism and thoughtful camp philosophy.

Center for Child Counseling specializes in training adults working with children at camp. If you have a specific camp in mind, ask if it is CampSafe® Trained. If you would like to share information about CampSafe® training with a particular camp, you can do so by providing that camp with this link: www.centerforchildcounseling.com/campsafe.

Receive CampSafe® information and resources in your inbox.


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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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Keep Kids Safe at Camp this Summer

NEWS RELEASE

April 24, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com
 

Keep Kids Safe at Camp this Summer

Center for Child Counseling’s CampSafe® Training is designed to protect campers and staff from child sexual abuse.

Every nine minutes, a child is a victim of sexual abuse and assault (rainn.org). Of those children who are sexually abused, 90% are abused by someone they know and trust. In the past 25 years, more than 575 cases of child sexual abuse have been reported at camps in North America. With summer around the corner, Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) wants to ensure every camper across the United States is protected and safe from abuse. CampSafe® is an online training designed to provide camp leadership and staff with the awareness and knowledge needed to prevent child sexual abuse. 

For summer 2022, over 7,000 camp staff across 54 camps participated in the CampSafe® training program. The goal is for all staff, including counselors, administrators, supervisors, dining and health personnel, volunteers, and board members to arrive at camp with the same strong foundational knowledge of child sexual abuse prevention and awarenss. 

“Our philosophy is to empower caregivers in all settings with a level of confidence around this topic, therefore better protecting all staff and campers. Training staff and volunteers helps break the cycle of child sexual abuse and shines an important light on this often-taboo topic,” said Cherie Benjoseph, 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 Nathaniel Miller, a director with New Life Camp, North Carolina, “CampSafe provided an easy yet effective resource to train our summer and seasonal staff in the important understanding of protecting children placed in our care. It handles the serious matter of child abuse in a way that doesn’t sugarcoat the problem but also makes it digestible for high school and college-aged staff. The online course also provided great discussion points when we did our in-person training.” 

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

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

CampSafe® is endorsed by the American Camp Association and can be provided to all camp staff for a nominal fee, ranging from $250-$650 depending on the number of staff members being trained. 

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

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. 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

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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 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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Child Trafficking is Happening in Your Community

By Cherie Benjoseph, MSW, LCSW, Child Safety Expert, Director of National Outreach

People often dismiss human trafficking as either something that occurs in other countries or as too big an issue to battle. Or they tell themselves, “This couldn’t happen in my community, and especially not in my family.” Sadly, they are wrong. Each of us needs to recognize that children of all ages, wherever they live, are vulnerable to trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, especially children who already have a history of child sexual abuse and other trauma.

Listed below are the primary risk factors that make some children more vulnerable to trafficking:

  • lack of personal safety
  • isolation
  • emotional distress
  • homelessness
  • poverty
  • family dysfunction
  • substance abuse
  • mental illness
  • learning disabilities
  • developmental delays
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • promotion of sexual exploitation by family members or peers
  • lack of social supports

How to protect our kids? Simply put, we can protect our children by becoming more knowledgeable about child sex trafficking and child sexual abuse.

What’s the difference between the two?

  • Traffickers groom children both online and in person, just like child sex offenders who target children for abuse. The difference is that a child sex offender molests the child themselves, for their own gratification, while the child trafficker sets the child up to be sexually assaulted by others, for monetary gain.
  • Horrific to comprehend – but child sex offenders abuse children as young as newborns and on up from there. It is also horrific (and important) to recognize that children can be sex trafficked by their own families, from inside their own homes, while appearing like a typical family. For children recruited by sex traffickers from outside the family the average age of entry into trafficking is 12 to 14.
  • The grooming process employed by a child sex trafficker and the grooming process used by a child sex offender have many similarities. Each works to build a “trusting” relationship with the child. When offenders and traffickers target very young children they often build a similar relationship with the child’s family. The grooming relationship might appear like a friendship, mentorship, or, for teens, it might look like a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. (Remember that 90% of the time, a child is harmed by someone they and/or their family know and trust.) For children who are trafficked, the traffickers themselves and other people who recruit for them are hiding in plain sight, and could even be another student in your child’s school.

Watch for the following signs that a child might be being groomed for sex trafficking (or for a child already being trafficked):

  • New possessions, of unexplained origin. Clothing, excess money, technology.
  • New friends. As our kids get older, we often take a step back from day to day involvement with those they hang with. This puts our children at increased risk (and vulnerability) of connecting to the wrong group of friends. If you notice new friends, ask questions. Meet them. Be vigilant.
  • New behaviors. More often late for curfew?, Missing school? These are red flags that something has changed for our children.
  • New moods and demeanor. Children and teens who are trafficked (and those being sexually abused) often show changes in mood and demeanor. Has your child become angry, withdrawn, anxious, depressed? Has he lost interest in school, activities, or family? Has her eating habits, sleep habits or hygiene habits changed in anyway? These can be signs that a child is struggling with something (including being the object of abuse and/or trafficking) and may need parental and professional intervention.
  • Unusual items. If you find your child has items such as hotel room keys, fake IDs, new tattoos, etc., those may be red flags, signs that she or he is being groomed or trafficked.

Child sex trafficking is horrific to consider, which can cause parents to shy away from looking for signs or talking with children when signs are evident. Don’t make that mistake.

If you suspect a child is being trafficked: call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to report a tip or to get help.

If you suspect a child is being sexually abused: call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.

For more info on sex trafficking visit www.A21.org and the www.polarisproject.org

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