Dr. Fox-Levine Receives Physician Hero in Medicine Award

June 3, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

Dr. Fox-Levine Receives Physician Hero in Medicine Award

Palm Beach Medical Society Services recently honored Shannon Fox-Levine, M.D., as the Physician Hero in Medicine at its 21st Annual Heroes in Medicine Awards Luncheon on May 23, 2024, at Benvenuto’s in Boynton Beach. The awards honor people throughout Palm Beach County who use their skills and resources to provide outstanding service. 

Dr. Fox-Levine serves as president of Palm Beach Pediatrics, president of Palm Beach Pediatric Society, and medical director of Center for Child Counseling. She was awarded Physician Hero for embodying the characteristics of skill, compassion, and dedication to the ideals and beliefs of the profession and for contributing in significant ways to the betterment of health care. 

“This is an amazing honor to be awarded as the Physician Hero in this county of pretty amazing physicians, so I really appreciate the recognition for the work I do in this county…when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, and that’s me,” expressed Dr. Fox-Levine in her acceptance speech.

As a strong advocate for Florida’s private pediatric healthcare providers, Dr. Fox-Levine’s tireless efforts have improved the financial landscape for pediatric practices and enhanced the quality of care for children across the state. Her decade-long service as the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatric Council Chair and her advocacy for  appropriate pay for services have earned Dr. Fox-Levine the prestigious American Academy of Pediatrics Chapter Special Achievement Award.

Dr. Fox-Levine’s appointment as the Medical Director at Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) signifies a pivotal milestone in her career. Her expertise and dedication come at a critical time when our nation’s youth are facing a mental health crisis. In this role, she plays a crucial part in addressing the shortage of professionals capable of supporting the overall well-being of children. Through her leadership, CFCC is poised to expand its impact in providing essential mental health support to vulnerable youth in Palm Beach County. 

Dr. Fox-Levine has been involved with CFCC for more than 10 years, also serving as a board member and medical consultant. CFCC’s Pediatric Integration Program was launched three years ago with Palm Beach Pediatrics to expand mental health services available to children served within the primary care setting–bridging the gap between primary care and community mental health. In her role as Medical Director, Dr. Fox-Levine works in tandem with CFCC leadership to expand support to other practices in Palm Beach County.

Dr. Fox-Levine’s involvement in various healthcare committees underscores her commitment to advancing pediatric care on multiple fronts. Locally, she has served as President of the Palm Beach Pediatric Society since 2014, working to build a collaborative network of pediatric care  providers and sub-specialists in Palm Beach County. Nationally, as a committee member on the Payer Advocacy Advisory Committee for the American Academy of Pediatrics, she contributes to assessing the public and private payer sector–advocating for benefits coverage for primary care pediatricians. Her participation in the Joe DiMaggio Neighborhood Partners further demonstrates her dedication to providing care to community members across South Florida. Dr. Fox-Levine’s multifaceted involvement in healthcare committees highlights her role as a strong leader in advocating for the comprehensive care of children and young adults. 

According to Renée Layman, CEO of Center for Child Counseling and the one who nominated Dr. Fox-Levine for the honor, “Shannon is a fierce, passionate advocate for children. Her tireless efforts are ensuring that all children in our community have the opportunity to grow up safe and healthy. For this, she is most deserving of being named a Hero in Medicine.” 

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

Click here to view the news release.

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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

Click here to view release.

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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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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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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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The Vital Role of Play for Children

By Renée Layman, LMHC, President and CEO

Play is not just a fun pastime for children; it's a fundamental part of childhood that shapes development across multiple domains. From fostering social skills to enhancing cognitive abilities, play serves as a cornerstone in nurturing healthy growth and well-being in children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the importance of play in strengthening the parent-child bond and for children living in poverty. Information from Harvard Center on the Developing Child  underscores the significance of play in supporting responsive relationships, strengthening core life skills, and reducing sources of stress.

Play Supports the Development of Healthy Relationships

Play plays an important role in supporting healthy, responsive relationships and promoting Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) which research shows can mitigate the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma. Play provides a natural avenue for children to form connections with caregivers, peers, and their environment.

Through play, children learn to communicate, collaborate, and negotiate with others, laying the foundation for healthy relationships later in life. As children engage in self-directed, imaginative play they develop empathy and self-regulation skills—essential for building strong and supportive bonds with others.

Strengthening Core Life Skills

Play is also instrumental in strengthening the core life skills related to success. Whether it's building towers with blocks, playing dress up and role-playing, or engaging in physical activities, play offers opportunities for children to develop essential cognitive, motor, and socio-emotional skills.

Research shows that play-based learning experiences are linked to improved problem-solving abilities, creativity, and self-confidence. By engaging in play, children explore, experiment, and learn from their experiences, honing skills that are essential for navigating life's challenges.

Play Reduces Stress

The past few years have caused significant stress and anxiety for children and their families. In the face of a children's mental health crisis, we need to find effective ways to reduce stress. Play serves as a natural stress reliever, offering children a safe space to express themselves, release tension, and process difficult emotions. Parents can support children by 'directing' some of the play through the toys offered. For example, if your child gets anxious about going to the doctor, a doctor’s kit and toys can help them express and work through feelings.

Unstructured play promotes stress reduction by activating the brain's reward system and lowering cortisol levels, the stress hormone. By engaging in play, children can escape from daily pressures, recharge their minds, and develop resilience in the face of adversity.

 At Center for Child Counseling, play is at the foundation of our work with children. Our staff have ongoing training in Play Therapy and we are credentialed through the Association for Play Therapy, which sets the national standards for training and practice.

For children who may not be able verbally express abuse or trauma, toys become their words. Through play, children give us a glimpse into their world, work through problems, develop healthy coping skills, and heal after traumatic experiences.

Play Resources for Parents and Caregivers

As parents, caregivers, and educators, it's important to recognize the importance of play in children's lives and prioritize opportunities for unstructured, imaginative play in their daily routines. By embracing play as a vehicle for learning and growth, we can empower children to reach their full potential.

We have developed an array of resources to support parents and adult caregivers of children. Through Ways to Play, we offer practical information and strategies to promote play that nurtures positive relationships, resilience, and well-being.

Resources:

Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine Appointed as Medical Director

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

Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine Appointed as Medical Director of Center for Child Counseling

 

Center for Child Counseling announces the appointment of  Shannon Fox-Levine, M.D., as Medical Director. Dr. Fox-Levine joins the Palm Beach County-based nonprofit at a critical time as our nation’s youth face a mental health crisis and there is a shortage of professionals who can support their overall well-being. 

The current snapshot of Palm Beach County’s youth mental health 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). Today, one in four children suffer a mental health or behavioral concern. 

In 2022, the entire state of Florida had a total of 493 children and adolescent psychiatrists with 43 practicing in Palm Beach County–one psychiatrist per 6,553 children under the age of 18 in the county (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry). 

According to Renée Layman, CEO of the Center, “We are thrilled to enhance our collaboration with Dr. Fox-Levine and further tackle system issues, advocate for children, and create action to improve the mental health and access to quality care for the children in our community.” 

The creation of the Medical Director position is a continuation of the partnership the Center has been building with Dr. Fox-Levine and her pediatric office, Palm Beach Pediatrics, for more than a decade. In addition to Center for Child Counseling integrating its services within Palm Beach Pediatrics to deliver an array of prevention, early intervention, and mental health services within the primary care setting, Dr. Fox-Levine will now expand early intervention and prevention methods within the community and advocate for change within the systems.

“One of my long-term goals has been to bridge the gap in the continuity of care of children with mental health issues between therapists and the county’s pediatricians. With this new role, I am excited to turn this dream into a reality and improve the mental health care for all children in Palm Beach County,” stated Dr. Fox-Levine.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Pediatric clinicians are on the front lines of caring for children and adolescents and, thus, have the greatest potential for early identification of and response to childhood trauma. Data indicate that, although pediatric providers intuitively understand the negative effects of trauma, they report a lack of knowledge, time, and resources as major barriers to providing trauma-informed care. Yet, experts believe that the complete assessment of child and adolescent behavioral, developmental, emotional, and physical health requires consideration of trauma as part of the differential diagnosis to improve diagnostic accuracy and appropriateness of care.

As Medical Director, Dr. Fox-Levine’s scope of services will include: developing a collaborative model of care between primary pediatrics and mental health in the community; developing and presenting trainings and workshops on psychopharmacology, pediatric medical conditions, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma, and other topics to enhance professional knowledge; mental health diagnoses consultation and follow-up care coordination; and providing oversight of medical students to develop a formal internship experience within the Center. 

Layman and Dr. Fox-Levine agree there is no lack of resources available to children and families in Palm Beach County; the lack of communication about the resources is where the barrier exists.

“When conversations happen in the community, pediatricians are often overlooked when they are the ones who have been seeing kids and their families since the day they were born. There’s a gap between what pediatricians do and what community organizations and schools do. So, we are thrilled to have Dr. Fox-Levine to help further our work within our community by advocating for the continuity of care. She will be the voice on behalf of pediatricians and connect pediatric offices to the community resources available to their patients and families,” said Layman.

About Shannon Fox-Levine, M.D.: Dr. Fox-Levine is a pediatrician and the sole owner of Palm Beach Pediatrics, where she has worked for 20 years. She completed medical school at University of Maryland at Baltimore and trained in pediatrics at Bellevue/NYU Hospital. Her goal as a pediatrician is to give the best comprehensive medical care to children while also being an advocate for them in the community. Integrating mental health care for children into primary care is her special interest. She has worked with Center for Child Counseling for ten years promoting trauma-informed care and developed educational tools for other primary care doctors to evaluate, manage, and treat common mental health disorders in children and adolescents. She is on a school-based committee to address the increase in Baker Acts during the pandemic. She also has an interest in the business of medicine and enjoys managing the practice. She has been an advocate for pediatricians to improve payment for services in Florida as the past chair of the Florida Pediatric council, most notably negotiating a grant from a major health plan to subsidize consultation hours for Patient Centered Medical Home recognition for independently owned pediatric practices.  She currently serves on the AAP Payer Advocacy and Advisory Committee to improve payment to pediatricians to decrease the financial barrier to access to high quality care for all children. She was the President of the Palm Beach Pediatric Society for ten years, organizing CME for peers in the community. One of her most proud achievements is advocating for child safety by being one of six named pediatricians in the “Docs vs. Glocks” lawsuit against the State of Florida which found in the doctors’ favor in Federal Appellate Court.  With COVID-19, she was an active participant in the state chapter and local school board discussions about returning children to school safely.  She has been married for 22 years with two sons, 21 and 18.  In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and exercising. 

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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Texas Approves Training to Protect Campers and Staff from Child Sexual Abuse

NEWS RELEASE

October 17, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

Texas Approves Training to Protect Campers and Staff from Child Sexual Abuse
Center for Child Counseling’s CampSafe® training approved by Texas Department of State Health Services

Every year, about 26 million children attend roughly 15,000 day and overnight summer camps across the United States. In the past 25 years, more than 575 cases of child sexual abuse have been reported at camps in North America. Unfortunately, given 86% of abused victims never disclose sexual assault at all, that number is likely much higher. Earlier this month, the Texas Department of State Health Services approved Center for Child Counseling’s CampSafe® training which is designed to provide camp leadership and staff with the awareness and knowledge needed to prevent 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. Center for Child Counseling (CFCC), a Florida-based nonprofit, wants to ensure every child, including all who attend day and overnight camps, is protected and safe from abuse. 

“We applaud the State of Texas for mandating instruction within schools and camps on child sexual abuse awareness and prevention and now for putting its stamp of approval on our CampSafe® training in order to provide more options of protection for children with increased prevention and awareness in the summer months,” said CEO of CFCC Renée Layman.

For summer 2023, more than 7,000 camp staff–across 75 camps in 27 states and Canada– participated in the CampSafe® training program, protecting more than 37,000 campers from 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 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, LCSW, director of national outreach and education for CFCC and creator of the CampSafe® training.

The program was created with both young adults, ages 18-26, and more seasoned staff in mind to take the topic seriously but not instill fear and reinforce the message of how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. 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; and post-testing for certification. 

“Training before staff arrive at camp, 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.

In addition to the State of Texas approving CampSafe® for both Youth Camp and Campus Programs for Minors, the American Camp Association also endorses the program. CampSafe® 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 bekidsafe@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

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Center for Child Counseling Receives ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award

October 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 ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award

Center for Child Counseling is honored to announce its prestigious selection as the ATHENA Organization Leadership Award recipient for 2023. The Center received this recognition at the 32nd Annual ATHENA Awards Luncheon, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches on September 28. 

An ATHENA Organizational Award nominee is a business or organization that creates an organizational culture that encourages women employees to achieve their full leadership potential and gives back to the larger community of women and girls by providing and/or supporting leadership development opportunities and initiatives. 

Brimming with pride and gratitude, CEO Renée Layman stated in her acceptance speech, “Thank you to the Chamber for awarding us with this prestigious honor. It’s such a privilege to be honored for something we love to do. I stand here as CEO representing a whole team of women…In 1999, Jane Robinson had this idea for supporting women and young children in Palm Beach County when nobody was doing it. And I came on in 2013 as CEO to continue her vision of supporting some of the most vulnerable children in the county. Our mission would remain but a dream without the incredible women who surround me…It has been a community effort to make a better Palm Beach County for women, children, families. We’re deeply grateful. We will take this and continue to fight for kids, continue to fight for the mental health of our children at a time when we are in crisis. Our need to act has never been greater. We will take this to spread awareness about what we need to do and we will continue to engage incredible women to support our mission.” 

Martha Mayhood Mertz founded ATHENA International in 1982 to honor women leaders and bring balance to leadership voices worldwide, a community of current and future leaders who have the power to change the world. Its vision of developing diverse, transformative leaders worldwide is rooted in celebrating the change-makers and trailblazers who open doors of leadership and opportunity and for women in communities across the globe.

Since its inception, Center for Child Counseling has been a woman-led and woman-driven organization. Since 2013, Layman has expanded the organization’s impact and sustainability, growing from four staff to 80–79 of them women–in just 10 years. From the top down, the women (and one man!) support each other: nurturing a culture that promotes learning constantly, living authentically, building relationships, and advocating fiercely for mental health and safety of girls and women. The Center embodies and embraces the very tenets that make up ATHENA International.

The Center was nominated by GL Homes Vice President of Community Relations Sarah Alsofrom for the ATHENA award and then selected as a 2023 Organizational Leadership finalist, along with Junior League of The Palm Beaches and Wellington Regional Medical Center. Other ATHENA award recipients included: Young Professional Award–Sarah Criser Elwell, CEO of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches; Leadership Award–Dorritt MIller, Assistant County Administrator for Palm Beach County.

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 IDs:
Center for Child Counseling staff and board members present at the 32nd Annual ATHENA Awards luncheon.

Click here to view the news release.

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beKidSafe.org Teaches Teachers How to Keep Kids Safe

September 28, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

beKidSafe.org Teaches Teachers How to Keep Kids Safe
Center for Child Counseling launches an online platform to ensure children grow up safe from abuse.

28 states, including Florida, and D.C. have passed legislation mandating instruction within schools on child sexual abuse awareness and prevention, as of January 2023. Unfortunately, 14 states have no laws in place. Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) wants to ensure every student throughout Florida, and across the United States, is protected and safe from abuse. To attain this goal, the Palm Beach Gardens-based agency recently launched beKidSafe.org–an online platform with prevention education for all adults who work with children. 

Every nine minutes, a child is a victim of sexual abuse and assault (rainn.org). Florida ranks third in the nation in calls to the National Human Trafficking hotline. It is reported far too often—teachers, coaches, pastors, priests, family members, friends, neighbors, political and business leaders charged with sexual assault. One in four girls and one in thirteen boys will report they were sexually abused by the age of 18. 70 to 90 percent of commercially exploited youth have a history of child sexual abuse. Awareness of these offenders and those victims being grotesquely violated and trafficked is not enough: the abuse needs to be stopped before it happens!

beKidSafe.org is a platform for educators, camp staff, and other child-facing professionals to easily access online training programs, like Stay KidSafe!™ and CampSafe®, and workshops to learn how to keep children safe through effective strategies that prevent abuse, build safety and communication skills, promote positive relationships and resilience, and identify risk early.

Stay KidSafe!™ is an online training designed to provide educators and students with the awareness and knowledge needed to prevent child sexual abuse. Since 2009, the Stay KidSafe!™ program has empowered more than 60,000 children with personal safety education and has taught more than 50,000 parents, guardians, teachers, and child-serving professionals how to keep kids safe. In addition to protecting children from sexual abuse, KidSafe teaches children safety tools and skills that help them make safe and smart choices in all areas as they become healthy, powerful adults.

CampSafe®  ultimately serves the same purpose as Stay KidSafe!™ but is training for camp leadership and staff. For summer 2023, more than 7,000 camp staff across 75 camps participated in the CampSafe® training program, protecting more than 37,000 campers from child sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse and human trafficking can have long-lasting physical and emotional effects, including: depression, eating disorders, self-blame, self-destructive behaviors, intergenerational cyclical abuse, learning disabilities, drug abuse. 

“As devastating as this public health crisis is, sexual abuse and these long-term effects can be prevented through education. We created beKidSafe.org to make it easy for ALL adults to become trauma-aware and recognize and stop childhood trauma and abuse in its tracks.” stated Renée Layman, CEO for Center for Child Counseling.

The training programs and workshops offered on beKidSafe.org were developed by professionals with expertise in sexual abuse prevention and training. Center for Child Counseling partnered with experts in learning and development, using the most up-to-date elearn method utilizes engaging, child-friendly content, including professionally animated videos and age-appropriate safety skills and lessons. 

Stay KidSafe!™ is available at no cost to child-serving organizations and schools in Palm Beach County, FL, and reduced cost to other schools and districts throughout the state and country thanks to financial support from partner organizations, such as: Impact the Palm Beaches, the Morgridge Family Foundation, Boca Regional Hospital, Boca West Children’s Foundation, The Batchelor Foundation, First Horizon Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, and Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. 

For teachers, schools, districts, and parents interested in learning more about how to be proactive in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse, visit bekidsafe.org or email info@centerforchildcounseling.org to learn more. 

Layman emphasized, “Education is the key to prevention–we must empower our schools, homes, and communities with the tools to teach children and adults how to keep kids safe. It’s time we move beyond awareness and take action to stop sexual abuse before it happens so kids can grow up to be healthy, powerful adults!”

Click here to view the news release.

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