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In-the-News

Back to School Drive a Huge Success!

Thank you to the Friends of FCA for participating in our first “Done in a Day” project! Volunteers of all ages came together and sorted through school supplies for students and personal care kits for homeless adults. In total, FCA will distribute over 125 backpacks filled with school supplies and more than 50 personal care kits. Website

FCA would like to thank Erin Vincent for her help in coordinating the day’s event, and FactSet Research Systems, the New Canaan Service League of Boys, Tauck World of Giving, the Sciaretta and Lord Families, Morgan Stanley and other friends of FCA for their time and support.

The Surge of Housing Vouchers

New efforts to end chronic homelessness by 2016.

In a typical year, Homeless Services at Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) may receive an average of two housing vouchers to transition homeless adults into independent living. In late 2014, however, FCA learned that through new federal funding and reallocated funds, an influx of 40 housing vouchers would be granted to the Greater Norwalk area to serve homeless adults. FCA Homeless Services is part of the Norwalk Housing First Collaborative, which also includes Open Door Shelter, the Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project, Homes with Hope, Supportive Housing Works and New Reach. Homeless Man Thinking

“The long-term goal of the Collaborative is to leverage services and dollars in any way to end chronic homelessness,” says Chris Jachino, Director of Homeless Services at FCA.

Ending chronic homelessness may initially seem like a lofty goal, but it’s one that FCA, the Collaborative and the State of Connecticut feel is attainable by the end of 2016. In January, Connecticut became just one of five states nationwide to take part Zero: 2016, an initiative to end chronic homelessness for veterans and disabled adults by 2016. The endeavor, organized by the nonprofit Community Solutions, seeks to end homelessness through a number of means, including an expansion of existing permanent housing subsidies.

“We’re taking the lead nationally on this issue not only because it’s good for our economy and makes our communities stronger, but because it’s morally right,” said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy in a statement.

There are three ways in which FCA and its fellow Collaborative partners have attained these housing vouchers. One is through the U.S. Department of Housing, which provided funds for 24 housing vouchers in December of 2014. These vouchers are determined by data collected through the Vulnerability Index, which captures one’s health and social status, taking into account such factors as hospital bills and their length of homelessness. When certain criteria are met, these individuals are placed on a statewide list, which allows agencies to prioritize homeless adults with the greatest health and social risks. The second is through the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a federal initiative to combine public and private resources to improve the lives of people in low-income communities. Lastly, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has shifted priorities allowing funds previously used toward services to be used to fund housing vouchers.

Some of the individuals identified in the Greater Norwalk region are already participating in services from FCA’s Community Connections Center, a day center that provides case management, social and recreational opportunities for homeless individuals. Moving these particular individuals into affordable housing exemplifies FCA’s goal of providing wrap-around services and ending the cycle of homelessness. These vouchers are in addition to the Supportive Housing programs already offered by Homeless Services at FCA. Homeless Services staff works with homeless adults to learn skills to maintain housing and independent living. In addition to providing vocational counseling and case management, the program offers a variety of activities including crocheting, fishing, biking and a community garden initiative so adults have a recreational outlet and become involved in the community.

Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the cycle of homelessness and hospitalizations due to mental illness and substance abuse.

FCA Teams Up with TD Bank to “Bring Change”

On July 31, Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) will team up with TD Bank on 380 Main Ave in Norwalk to “Bring Change.” This one-day event allows the community to donate coins, cash and checks at TD Bank and other locations throughout Norwalk. TD Bank will match all donations up to $2,000! Help Bring Change to the Greater Norwalk community and support FCA on July 31.

Where to Donate

TD Bank
Main Avenue Shopping Plaza
380 Main Ave
Norwalk, CT 06851

Family & Children’s Agency
9 Mott Ave.
Norwalk, CT 06850

140 Water St.
Norwalk, CT 06854

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A little more about FCA…

Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) is a leading nonprofit human service organization committed to increasing the social and emotional well-being of our clients. We provide solution focused services that meet the needs of individuals throughout the life cycle, including children, families, youth, adults and seniors. We possess more than 70 years of experience in the fields of social work and human services. Although based in Norwalk, FCA impacts more than 11,000 people each year throughout Fairfield County and beyond.

Some of our robust health and human service programs include Family Support & Prevention/ Intervention Services, Youth Development, Specialized Foster Care, Behavioral Health, Homeless Services, Addiction Recovery for Women and Home Care for seniors. Together, we partner with individuals, families, organizations and communities to successfully meet life’s challenges.

TD Bank’s Bring Change event on July 31 will “bring change” and build a better life for those FCA serves. The programs provided by FCA address critical needs and, ultimately, build stronger families and communities. Even more, 91 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to client programs.

We would like to thank TD Bank for including us in this event, and everyone who donates to Bring Change on July 31.

Meet the Faces of FCA

Meet Vincent and Rachel, two individuals with very different pasts who have built a better life for themselves through the help of FCA. Vincent is a Norwalk man who recently obtained housing through FCA’s Homeless Services. Early in his life, Vincent was heading to college on a baseball scholarship, but a severe car accident left him unable to play. After many years of battling depression, drugs and homelessness, Vincent worked with FCA to rebuild his life. Rachel unexpectedly became pregnant and learned the foundations of motherhood through FCA’s Family Support and Prevention Services.

Vincent, Homeless Services

Vincent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel, Family Support & Prevention

Rachel

Two Norwalk Residents Receive CCFSA Family Champion Awards

Each year, the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies (CCFSA) recognizes exemplary volunteers and human service professionals with the Family Champion Award. On June 8, Richard Zaremski, Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) Board of Directors member, and Janeen Reid, Supervisor of Adolescent Services for FCA Specialized Foster Care, were honored with this award. CCFSA 2015

In his four years since joining the FCA Board of Directors, Richard Zaremski has been an enormous asset to FCA. As a Senior Vice President at First County Bank, Richard has led the bank’s efforts to support regional businesses, especially nonprofits. His financial expertise has guided FCA with many decisions. Rick is a member of FCA’s Finance Committee, Board Development Committee and a Co-Chair of the Adult and Senior Program Committee. His influence has been instrumental in increasing corporate support for grants and event sponsorships, while also being a valuable ambassador for FCA within the community.

Janeen Reid joined FCA’s Specialized Foster Care program more than six years ago as a social worker. Janeen’s passion for helping children is evident in all she does, as she sees promise and potential in every youth she meets. Early in her career, Janeen was promoted to the Supervisor of Adolescent Services and manages FCA’s Respite Program. Janeen has spearheaded several endeavors for foster care teens, including a Life Skills program and a College Tour. Her mission is to ensure that children in foster care receive the same experiences as other children.

“We are so fortunate to have both Richard and Janeen as part of the FCA ‘family’,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of FCA. “These are two individuals who are committed to FCA’s work in building better lives, and we are thrilled that they have been honored with this award from CCFSA.”

Thank you for supporting RE-IMAGINE 2015!

More than 300 guests from throughout Fairfield County headed to The Loading Dock in Stamford on Saturday, May 30 for RE-IMAGINE 2015, Family & Children’s Agency’s (FCA) annual benefit. The event featured an inventive cuisine from renowned chef Abigail Kirsch, performances from Broadway star Liz Callaway and live and silent auctions. The evening’s co-chairs were FCA Board members Jill Dimitrief and Sharon Sullivan, both of Westport, and Lisa Lillie of Wilton.

“This year’s benefit had a record-breaking turnout with over 300 guests,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of FCA. “We are extremely grateful to RE-IMAGINE 2015’s generous sponsors and supporters, along with our dedicated Co-Chairs and Committee, without whom the event simply would not be possible.”

The silent auction included more than 50 fabulous packages from entertainment to jewelry to home décor, and the live auction featured tickets to the MLB Rawlings Gold Glove Dinner, a trip to a chic South Beach, Miami condo for Art Basel and a taco summer party, courtesy of Taco Loco. The evening was emceed by comedian Robert McNeel, while Tony nominee and Emmy Award-winning performer Liz Callaway sang multiple cabaret sets throughout the evening.

The event was titled “RE-IMAGINE” as FCA’s annual IMAGINE benefit was reinvented to highlight how the Agency builds better lives. Guests were shown videos of two FCA clients, Rachel and Vincent, who spoke of their journeys with FCA. Rachel, a mother of twins, has worked closely with FCA’s Family Support & Prevention Services, while Vincent is actively involved in Homeless Services. Their stories heartened many in the audience to participate in a Call to Action paddle raise, which raised over $140,000. Ninety cents of every dollar donated to FCA goes directly to services supporting our clients.

Corporate sponsors included BlumShapiro, CPB, Chase Bank of Wilton, First County Bank, GE Capital, Glen Gate Company, Jarden Corporation, MJP Wealth Advisors, People’s United Bank and Whitman Breed Abbott & Morgan LLC. Individual sponsors included Georgia & Charles Adams, Jill & Alexander Dimitrief, Julene & Simon Greenshields, the Herlyn Family, Sharon Sullivan & Jeffrey Kindler, Lisa & Jim Lillie, Rita Marber, Barbara & William O. Murphy, Kathleen P. & Peter Murphy, Carol & Jim Randal and Barbara & Brian Stern, and Maria & Tom Wilcox.

Specialized Foster Care at FCA Hosts Second Annual College Tour

Twenty-five youth and eight Specialized Foster Care staff members headed south to Washington D.C. in April for the second annual College Tour for foster care adolescents. This trip was a unique experience for these teens, as many have never been out of state, stayed in a hotel or seen national monuments. The College Tour is designed to be educational, social and motivational for these teens and allow them to envision their future. This year, students visited Georgetown University, George Washington University and Howard University.

“It’s important for these students to see what’s out there and what’s possible,” said Janeen Reid, Supervisor of Adolescent Services of Specialized Foster Care at FCA. “These social outings allow the youth to really connect. It’s an experience they can share together.”

According to Janeen, many students attend alternative high schools that offer limited exposure to colleges. She hopes this trip will inspire them to pursue college or vocational schools upon graduation.

In addition to visiting three universities, the students and staff visited the National Zoo, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and took a tour of the Capitol, courtesy of Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Last year’s College Tour was the first of its kind for FCA, and students visited Coppin State University, Morgan State University and Towson University.

“This week-long trip is a testament to the creativity of our Specialized Foster Care staff at FCA,” said Robert F. Cashel, FCA President & CEO. “The staff is dedicated to the social and emotional growth of all youth in our programs, and experiences such as these simply would not be possible without their commitment and dedication.”

Specialized Foster Care at FCA includes Medically Complex and Therapeutic services for youth with severe medical or emotional issues. In addition, the Agency was awarded a grant last year by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to begin a new component for children who are experiencing extreme behavioral or emotional problems. The new program component, Family and Community Ties, provides alternatives to, and transitions from, residential placement facilities for foster children.

FCA Home Care Recognizes the 50th Anniversary of Older Americans Month

The month of May is recognized nationally as Older Americans Month, a time to honor the contributions of older adults in our communities. This year’s theme is “Get into the Act” and focuses on how older Americans are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities and making a positive impact in the lives of others. FCA Home Care offers a wide spectrum of services providing aging adults with peace of mind, security and dignity. A service that is unique to FCA Home Care is the Caregiver Support program, which provides free individual counseling and in-home support to family members caring for aging adults. This program is offered free of charge with support from the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging (SWCAA).

According to Megan Haque, LCSW with FCA Home Care, caregivers can feel burnt out, stressed or overwhelmed with the role they have taken on. “The Caregiver Support program allows family caregivers to speak freely and express how they are feeling in this role without fearing judgment,” says Megan. “It gives them the opportunity to connect with a trained therapist and to meet in the comfort of their own home.”

The Caregiver Support program also offers referrals to doctors and home care providers for aging seniors.

To learn more about the Caregiver Support program, contact Megan Haque, LCSW with FCA Home Care, at (203) 831-2900 or email mhaque@fcagency.org

FCA Home Care provides peace of mind, security and dignity for you or your loved one. We provide a continuum of care to allow adults to remain safe and independent in their own homes. We are your trusted Fairfield County nonprofit Home Care provider, and our services include Personal Alert emergency response system, Live-In Care, Home Health Aides, Homemakers and Companions, Assisted Transportation and Home Modification. Our staff is licensed with the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health and thoroughly vetted. As part of a larger human service agency, our knowledge of adult care is unparalleled.

After School Program Students Ask for Luggage Donations

The After School Program at Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) serves 50 Norwalk middle school youth throughout the school year. Character building is a large component of the Program’s curriculum, and recently the students learned about “citizenship” by hearing about other programs at FCA, including Specialized Foster Care and Homeless Services.

As they learned more, the students realized that many youth in foster care and homeless adults do not even have luggage to carry their belongings from home to home and rely on garbage bags. Duffle bags and luggage are items that so many of us take for granted. Arriving at a new foster home or taking steps to transition out of homelessness can be daunting, but having something as simple as a duffle instead of a garbage bag can help an individual navigate these transitions with dignity and confidence.

FCA is so proud of our After School Program students. Please help us in spreading the word to get local organizations to donate luggage of any kind to help these students help others.

To donate luggage, contact Anne Schneider, Coordinator of Mentoring Services, at (203) 523-5776 or email aschneider@fcagency.org.

 

Family & Children’s Agency Celebrates Week of the Young Child

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The third week of April is recognized nationally as the Week of the Young Child, a period to celebrate and increase attention on early childhood programs and services that meet the needs of young children and their families. This year’s theme, as deemed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, is “Celebrating Our Youngest Learners.” Many events will be held throughout the greater Norwalk region this month, and to kick off the week Family & Children’s Agency’s (FCA) Family Support & Prevention services held a Literacy Day on Friday, April 10. This annual event was hosted by students and volunteers from Pear Tree Point School in Darien.

Pear Tree Point School students read to young children on Literacy Day.

Pear Tree Point School students read to young children on Literacy Day.

“It’s so important to read to young children, even at early ages,” said Mary Kate Locke, Director of Adoption and Prevention Services at FCA. “These early years help shape their learning and development. Literacy Day created a fun environment for families with young children to come together and promote reading.”

Approximately 20 students from Pear Tree Point School and adult volunteers hosted the event at Christ Church in Norwalk, which included a healthy lunch, crafts and live music for children to sing along. Students from Pear Tree Point School paired off with families with young children and read stories aloud.

In addition to Literacy Day for FCA families, other Week of the Young Child sponsors in the greater Norwalk region include the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, Norwalk Public Library, Norwalk Early Childhood Council, Norwalk School Readiness Providers, and Norwalk Early Childhood Office. Visit their websites for upcoming events and activities.

Family Support & Prevention services FCA provides support and guidance to parents and their young children through the Nurturing Family Network, Fatherhood Initiative, Maternal Outreach and Mentoring Service (MOMS) program, Healthy Start and Child FIRST. The program’s trained staff educates parents so they can build a strong foundation for their family’s growth. All programs are offered free of charge in English and Spanish to families in the Greater Norwalk area and are on a voluntary basis.

For more information, please contact Mary Kate Locke, Director of Adoption and Prevention Services, at (203) 855-8765 or email mlocke@fcagency.org.

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