Mix & Mingle Drives Change for Kids

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

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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