Responding to a huge increase in demand, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County doubled its funding for summer camp for families in need – bringing the total number of children receiving scholarships this summer to 4,521.
“Working parents desperately need safe, stimulating environments for their children during the summer,” says Council CEO Lisa Williams-Taylor. “Children’s Services Council is pleased to be able to provide that peace of mind, so parents can work and children can thrive.”
The Council has funded the Summer Camp Scholarship program since 1995 – partnering with Palm Beach County’s Youth Services Department, which oversees local camp vendors and administers the program. Children of families with income at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines ($37,650 for a family of four) are eligible for the scholarships. So are children who meet certain criteria, such as having a special need or being in foster care, homeless or involved with the dependency system.
Initially, the Council set aside $2.2 million for this year’s summer camp scholarships. However, a new, online sign-up process significantly increased the number of families who applied. To eliminate the waitlist, the Council authorized a total of $4.5 million to serve 4,521 children.
In other business
EveryParent Update: The Council heard updates from CSC’s Communications Division staff on the EveryParent campaign, designed to make parenting just a little easier in Palm Beach County. The free website and mobile apps, which provide trusted tips and expert advice on raising children in Palm Beach County, now have more than 5,200 accounts created – already surpassing its February 2019 benchmark.
BRIDGES Evaluation: The Council heard an update from staff on BRIDGES, CSC’s place-based strategy for addressing child outcomes. CSC opened 10 BRIDGES, or neighborhood hubs, in 2011 in communities where families need more help to ensure their children grow up healthy, safe and strong. Since then, BRIDGES has engaged with more than 25,000 people. The evaluation found that 93 percent of parents with children ages 0-8 returned after their first visit. Additionally, more than 600 pregnant women, and more than 800 children ages 0-5, were referred to services in CSC’s Healthy Beginnings System.
The staff evaluation also found that:
- BRIDGES is successful in connecting to families and helping them build protective factors including their support systems and knowledge/awareness of topics to help their children be successful.
- BRIDGES members with higher levels of engagement in BRIDGES, experience better outcomes in kindergarten reading proficiency and lower rates of child abuse and neglect investigations.
- BRIDGES children participating in child care through CSC or VPK scholarships have better kindergarten performance outcomes.
Mental Health: The Council proclaimed May as National Mental Health Awareness/Trauma-Informed Care Month. One in four adults, and one in five youth ages 13-18, experience serious mental illness in their lifetimes. The majority do not receive treatment because of barriers like fear, shame and limited access to, or awareness of, care options.
From 2014-2016, the most recent three years of data available, more than 1,800 Palm Beach County children ages 1-5 received mental health services – higher than the state rate. Recognizing the importance of social-emotional health, Children’s Services Council funds programs and services aimed at promoting children’s pro-social well-being and mental health. CSC also participates in the “Get Your Green On” campaign to raise awareness about the importance of mental health.
Achievement Award: The National Association of Counties honored Palm Beach County with a 2018 Achievement Award for its “Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures” initiative in the Children and Youth category. Children’s Services Council, in partnership with Palm Beach County’s Youth Services Department and other local advocacy groups, is deeply involved in this collective impact initiative focused on improving the health, well-being and future of Palm Beach County’s children.
Children’s Services Council, a local special-purpose government created by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014, provides leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong. To learn more, please visit www.cscpbc.org or contact Shana Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-740-7000 ext. 2170.