Council Update: Council Proclaims May as Mental Health Awareness Month

One in four adults, and one in five teens ages 13-18, experience a serious mental illness. Yet 60 percent of adults and half of youth don’t receive the treatment necessary for their mental health concerns because of limited or no knowledge of their own need, barriers to care, or fear and shame. 
To raise awareness, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County’s board proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness and Trauma Informed Care Month at its most recent meeting.
The Council recognizes that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse, are traumatic experiences that can have a profound effect on a child’s developing brain and their future. Studies show that the effects of ACEs may be felt by all people – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sex orientation or socioeconomic status. The Council also recognizes that as a local government, it has a responsibility to account for, and address, the community’s mental health needs, as well as a responsibility to promote mental wellness and prevention efforts. 
The increased trauma from the past few years – due to the COVID-19 pandemic, political and social unrest, economic uncertainty and the like – only increases the need for mental health services in our community. 
This is why CSC has made mental health a focus of its work and provides a number of behavioral health-related services to Palm Beach County children and their families.
In other business
Child First Evaluation: Staff shared with the Council results of the Child First Evaluation Study, conducted by RTI International. Child First is an intensive home-visiting intervention for families with multiple challenges, such as abuse and neglect, depression and domestic violence. A team consisting of a mental health clinician and a care coordinator promotes therapeutic services while also connecting families to community supports and resources. The purpose of the study was to determine if Child First, which is funded by CSC and administered by the Center for Child Counseling and Families First of Palm Beach County, reduces child maltreatment and improves child and parent outcomes in comparison to less intensive programs also funded by CSC, as well as a national comparison group. 
The study found that families who participated in Child First had a significantly lower number of maltreatment reports compared to a national comparison group. Children in the Child First program also decreased their challenging behavior at twice the rate of the national comparison group. In addition, maternal depression decreased from 43.3 percent to 30 percent in the past 12 months. And children whose families participated in Child First were much more likely to attend child care, Head Start or preschool than the peer group. 
In summary, children in the Child First program were significantly more likely to be safe than those of the national peer comparison group. The results are even more interesting considering the study took place during COVID, when families already struggling with multiple challenges faced even more stress. Evaluators anticipate that positive outcomes for families will only increase once COVID is no longer a factor.
Office of the Inspector General: The Council approved renewal of an interlocal agreement with the Palm Beach County Office of the Inspector General, whereby the OIG acts as the investigating agency in the case of referrals/intakes. The OIG also serves as the “appropriate local official” for purposes of whistleblower protection, provided in Chapter 112 of Florida Statutes. The agreement is for $58,095.50 which, during a three-year period, amounts to $174,286.50.
Requests for Proposals: CSC staff will release two Requests for Proposals in May. The first seeks a qualified Employee Group Benefits Insurance Broker to assist CSC’s Human Resources Department in representing the organization in the marketing of employee insurance benefits programs and to provide servicing of coverages, consultation, marketing and placement for each of CSC’s insurance benefit plans. The second seeks an agency to provide creative development and placement of digital and social media content to support a public awareness campaign directed to parents and those raising children prenatal to age 18 in Palm Beach County.

About Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County

The Council is a local, special-purpose government created by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014. For more than 30 years, it has provided leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong.

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