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|SARASOTA – Losing your child because of your own life choices is hard to imagine. But working for months to get them back, only to have the reunification delayed because of consequences associated with a worldwide pandemic, is even harder to fathom.|
The Manatee Foster Care Initiative Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation recently awarded a $20,000 grant to The Florida Center for Early Childhood. The funds will allow crisis intervention therapists to offer additional support to families who are struggling to cope during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The program participants have been working so hard to rebuild their families, but all that is on hold as we practice social distancing,” said Kathryn Shea, CEO of The Florida Center for Early Childhood. “Thanks to this generous grant, professional therapists can provide intensive support, via phone or video chat, to help these parents and children manage their emotions in a positive way.”
The Early Childhood Court Program helps young children achieve permanency more quickly than in traditional court proceedings. Families enrolled in the program already face hardships like poverty, substance abuse disorders and physical or mental health challenges.
With the added burden of Covid-19 related hardships like isolation, food insecurity, and the stress being unable to visit their children and progress in their case plan, parents in the program are teetering on the edge of a cliff. Stable employment and housing are all necessary for regaining custody of their children, yet these are the exact aspects that have likely been affected with the Covid-19 pandemic. In the last few weeks, therapists have reported extreme anxiety in their clients.
Many foster parents are also struggling as they care for children with few or no periods of relief and experience financial difficulties.
Crisis intervention with expertly trained therapists and clinicians can provide a lifeline for birth parents, guardians and foster parents. With support and positive strategies to manage stress, parents and caregivers can continue to foster strong relationships and nurture their children’s healthy development.
“Our ultimate goal is preventing child abuse, which is known to increase during times of economic stress,” said Shea. “We are truly grateful for this funding which will allow for these families to get the support they need to get through this difficult time. “
About the Florida Center for Early Childhood:For more than 40 years, The Florida Center for Early Childhood has been the leading provider of therapeutic services, early education and healthy development for young children in southwest Florida, offering a seamless delivery of services for the whole child and their family. Today, the agency is nationally recognized for its early childhood expertise in a variety of specialties.