Children’s Services Council – Helping All Palm Beach County Children Thrive
By Greg Langowski
Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County is well-known in the community as a leader in services for expecting families and young children. The Council, however, is less well-known as the second-largest funder of services to school-age children in the county, behind the School District. Since the mid-1990s, the Council has maintained a 75/25 split in funding between early childhood and school-age children and youth. These are just a few examples:
- CSC funds the Mentor Center at United Way, providing oversight of mentor programs and anchoring the Mentor Network, an affiliation of 22 programs that oversees more than 10,000 mentor matches in our county. CSC also funds seven more mentoring programs with other agencies.
- CSC provides scholarships for nearly 4,400 children to attend afterschool programs at more than 120 afterschool sites such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Adopt-A-Family and FAU-Pine Jog. CSC also funds Prime Time Palm Beach County, which provides afterschool enrichment programs to more than 20,000 children in areas of academics, health and wellness, arts and leadership.
- CSC funds the Teen Outreach Program (TOP), an evidence-based program that encourages healthy choices, improves teen pregnancy prevention outcomes, and lowers the risk of school suspension and dropouts. More than 30 TOP clubs in the county have more than 500 members.
- CSC established BRIDGES in 10 neighborhoods that face significant obstacles for healthy births, reduced child abuse, school readiness and reading on grade level by third grade. Nearly 2,700 families with children through age 17 participate at BRIDGES.
- CSC funds the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) for families with children through age 12 to help families address social, emotional, and behavioral problems, including the critical transition to middle school. More than 2,000 children were in Triple P last year, and more than 85 percent of them were school age. This year, CSC will add Teen Triple P.
- CSC provides scholarships for summer camps for school-age children, allowing more than 1,900 children to attend last summer.
- CSC funds the Special Needs Initiative providing afterschool and respite services for children with disabilities. Last year, more than 160 children received respite services and nearly 140 children received afterschool programming. More than 40 children received special needs equipment, such as adaptable strollers, that are not covered by Medicaid or private insurance.
- CSC funds the Juvenile and Foster Children’s Projects, which advocate for children through age 18 to protect their legal rights. The Relative Caregiver Project provides legal help for relatives to obtain custody, guardianship or adopt family members. About 1,100 children benefited from this legal work last year, more than 90 percent of them over 5 years old.
Our leadership has fundamentally changed the nature of care for all children in Palm Beach County, and a list of our contracts may be found at: http://www.cscpbc.org/funded-programs
Through the leadership and coordination of CEO Tana Ebbole, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County agreed this year to assume the funding match for federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs, freeing up $7 million in Palm Beach County government dollars for middle and high school student services. Without the leadership of Children’s Services Council, this coordinated effort would not be possible.
Ms. Ebbole co-chaired the Youth Symposium last year with Assistant County Administrator Jon Van Arnam, bringing together CSC’s board with the School Board, County Commissioners and dozens of other private, government and non-profit leaders to coordinate the spectrum of services available from birth through age 22. CSC executives lead two of the project teams implementing the goals of that symposium for all ages, and CSC staff provide the technical assistance, research and data reports for the plan.
We believe it’s clear that our mission is to help all our children grow up healthy, safe and strong.
(Greg Langowski is chair of the Council for Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.)