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New grants to improve mental health in Berkeley County’s young children

Berkeley County First Steps has received a $3,000 grant from the Home Community Fund through the Coastal Community Foundation and a $2,500 grant from The Joanna Foundation. The organization, which strives to prepare young, low-income children in Berkeley County, S.C. for school and a lifetime of learning, will use the grants to fund its Early Childhood Mental Health program.

The funds will enable Mental Health First Aid certifications for Berkeley County First Steps’ home visitors, and for early childhood professionals at family childcare centers across Berkeley County.

The grants will also fund a training session on trauma-informed care and early childhood mental health consultations during Berkeley County First Steps’ visits to the county’s childcare centers and homes.

The need for early childhood mental health programs in Berkeley County is great. Across South Carolina, there is one mental health provider for every 650 residents on average, but in Berkeley County the ratio is far worse: one mental health provider for every 1,260 residents—even while needs are forecast to grow.

“We know that if we don’t intervene early, children with mental health issues will likely face negative, life-altering outcomes,” said Stacy L. Albarran, a Berkeley County mental health professional who will conduct the training session on trauma-informed care. “Children of preschool age who exhibit challenging behaviors are being put out of early childcare settings at an alarming rate. Even those who stay in childcare can have significant difficulties later in school settings, which can lead to dropping out of school.

“This funding gives us an amazing opportunity to build a trauma-informed multidisciplinary team approach in Berkeley County’s early childcare environments, where we can use evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies with children and their families, improving their potential for success.”

“We are so grateful to the Home Community Fund and The Joanna Foundation for their support of this incredibly important component of early childhood health and learning,” said Adrienne Troy-Frazier, executive director of Berkeley County First Steps. “Too many of the county’s young children lack access to affordable, high-quality developmental screenings, learning activities, and prenatal and family supports. Without programs like this, early educators just don’t have the resources to adequately address mental health issues in these children. These grants can really have a positive impact.”

 

ABOUT BERKELEY COUNTY FIRST STEPS

Berkeley County First Steps is part of a statewide initiative to prepare young children for school and a lifetime of learning. Serving the hardest-to-reach children and families first, its vision is to see that every child in Berkeley County enters kindergarten safe, healthy, ready to succeed, and eager to learn. It seeks to fulfill this vision by providing families with improved child care and early education opportunities, striving for an early childhood system that is transparent and easily navigated by families, ensuring that family engagement and partnership is embedded in the system, expanding and improving healthcare, and strengthening families through a parenting skills program. For more information about Berkeley County First Steps, visit www.berkeleyfirststeps.com.

ABOUT COASTAL COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

Coastal Community Foundation helps create vibrant communities by uniting people and investing resources. Founded in 1974 to make a lasting impact through permanent, endowed funds for charitable giving, it serves nice counties across coastal South Carolina, manages more than $280 million in total assets—placing it among the top 100 community foundations in the nation—and awarded more than $17 million in grants in 2017. Through the Coastal Community Foundation, the Home Community Fund awards grants each year to nonprofits working in Home Telecom’s service area of Berkeley County. The fund was established in 2002 to create a permanent charitable resource for nonprofits located in Berkeley County or serving residents of Berkeley County. To learn more, visit coastalcommunityfoundation.org.

ABOUT THE JOANNA FOUNDATION

The Joanna Foundation was established in 1945 by Mr. Walter Regnery, president of Joanna Cotton Mills Company, and Mr. William H. Regnery, president of its parent company, Joanna Western Mills of Chicago, to better the community and promote the causes of health, education, and other improvements. The Foundation’s purpose is to support organizations and programs that strengthen community capacity and enhance individual involvement in achieving a better quality of life. Its primary beneficiaries are residents of Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties along with the communities of Joanna and Newberry in South Carolina. To learn more, visit joannafoundation.org.