National Foster Care Month is Here!
Specialized Foster Care is one of Family & Children’s Agency’s largest programs supporting children and youth through programs specifically tailored for those with significant medical or behavioral needs. National Foster Care Month, celebrated annually each May, is a time to highlight the inspirational stories and urgent needs of the nearly 400,000 children and youth nationwide within the foster care system. This year’s theme is “Supporting Youth in Transition.” The Agency’s Specialized Foster Care Program is committed to serving its clients whether they are transitioning safely back with their parents or relatives or transitioning to a permanent adoptive home.
To learn more, visit www.familyandchildrensagency.org/services/children-and-families/foster-care/.
May is Older Americans Month
“Unleash the Power of Age” is the theme of this year’s Older Americans Month, which, since 1963, has been recognized every May. Older Americans Month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions older adults make in their community along with their vitality and influence.
Family & Children’s Agency’s senior services is one of four core focus areas for children & families, youth and adults. Home Care Services for Seniors at Family & Children’s Agency is Fairfield County’s trusted partner in allowing older adults to age gracefully and independently in their own homes. Home Care Services provides Personal Alert response systems, Live-In services, homemakers, home health aides, assisted transportation and home modification services.
Family & Children’s Agency proudly celebrates Older Americans Month and passionately believes in the contributions of older adults throughout the year.
To learn more, visit www.familyandchildrensagency.org/services/seniors/.
April is National Child Abuse and Prevention Month
By Jason Vancura
In 1983, Congress declared April to be National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Thirty years later, this month is still dedicated to creating strong family and community ties that help keep children safe.
Family & Children’s Agency’s goals directly align with the theme of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Agency works tirelessly with families in our Family Support & Prevention and Family Support & Intervention programs to prevent the maltreatment and neglect of children. Our goal is to help children thrive in safe, nurturing and strong families in which a child can flourish.
Family Support & Prevention offers many programs, including the Nurturing Family Network, Fatherhood Initiative, the Maternal Outreach and Mentoring Service (MOMS) Project, Healthy Start, and the Child and Family Inter-Agency Resource, Support and Training (Child FIRST) Program.
“Our idea is to equip parents with young children with as much information as we can to ensure that they can successfully care for their child,” said Mary Kate Locke, Director of Family Support and Prevention Services
Family Support & Prevention services gives support and guidance to first time parents and parents of young children. For instance, the Nurturing Family Network at the Agency offers first time parents access to information to ensure a safe environment for the upbringing of their child. The Home Visiting program offers trained visitors to educate first time parents on child development.
The Family Support & Intervention services, for families in crisis, offer many services including Intensive Family Preservation, Family Enrichment, Reconnecting Families, Parent Education Program (P.E.P.), Focus on K.I.D.S.-FOK, Parent Project and Supportive Housing for Families. The goal is to promote the safety and well-being of all family members by maintaining and building on primary family connections, while connecting families to community resources, as needed.
“We find it incredibly important to foster a living situation between the parents and children that allows the child to thrive in a positive environment,” said Tiffany McCarthy, Director of Family Support and Intervention. “Most of our programs work with the entire family to provide young people with the best chance for lifelong success.”
For instance, the Intensive Family Preservation program is a home visiting program that helps parents improve parenting abilities, build on strengths and reduce behaviors that place a child or family at risk. The Family Enrichment Program is a less intensive home visiting program, which reaches out to families who are seeking to build healthy relationships.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month is dedicated to the month of April, but doesn’t mean that this is the only time to spread awareness. To learn more about Family & Children’s Agency’s Family Support & Prevention, please contact Mary Kate Locke, Director, Family Support & Prevention at (203) 523-5754, or email email@example.com. To learn more about Family Support & Intervention, please contact Tiffany McCarthy, Director, Family Support & Intervention at (203) 523-5312, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrating Literacy during Week of the Young Child
The third week of April is recognized nationwide as the Week of the Young Child, a period to celebrate and focus 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 Early Years are Learning Years.
In this spirit, Family Support and Prevention services at Family & Children’s Agency Hosted its 2nd Annual Literacy Event for parents and young children involved in Prevention programs on Tuesday, April 16 at Norwalk City Hall. Pear Tree Point Elementary School in Darien held a book drive for the event and will be at Norwalk City Hall to read, make crafts and play games with the children. In addition, each child will receive a tote bag filled with an age-appropriate book and a healthy snack.
If you would like to learn more about Family Support and Prevention services, please contact Mary Kate Locke, Director, Family Support and Prevention and Adoption, at (203) 523-5754 or email email@example.com.
Family & Children’s Agency Thanks its 800+ Volunteers During National Volunteer Appreciation Month
April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and Family & Children’s Agency is extending its thanks and appreciation to its more than 800 tireless volunteers. The efforts of the Agency’s volunteers help support every facet of the Agency and make a difference the lives of children & families, youth, adults, and seniors every day.
“Volunteers have a profound impact and are an integral part of the work done at Family & Children’s Agency,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO. “We could not do the work we do without their dedication.”
Volunteer opportunities at the Agency include mentoring a child, supporting a specific program, sponsoring an event, providing a meal for those experiencing homelessness, organizing or donating to a collection or drive, making items for clients, or simply raising awareness.
Martha Ercole has been a volunteer with the After School Program at Family & Children’s Agency for more than six years. Martha came to the Agency after her daughter had volunteered with the After School Program while she was in high school. After her daughter graduated and attended Columbia University, Martha wanted to give back to the Program, as well. Martha says volunteering with the Program is rewarding in many ways.
“My satisfaction comes from developing a relationship with the kids,” says Martha. The After School Program provides enrichment activities and academic support to 50 middle school youth from Norwalk at the Program’s Norwalk Community College campus 5 days a week. “Being involved in their lives and being able to watch them grow, evolve and change as they learn is really special. The children look forward to seeing you. It’s about being a positive role model and being there for the kids.”
National Volunteer Appreciation Month is not only about thanking those who donate their time, but encouraging others to support a cause that is important to them. To learn more volunteer opportunities with Family & Children’s Agency, please contact Mayx Holmes, Manager, Volunteer Services, at (203) 523-5715 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clients Put Vocational Skills to the Test at Homeless Services’ Career Day
By Jason Vancura
Homeless Services at Family & Children’s Agency hosted a Career Day on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Career Day, which is open to all Homeless Services clients including those in the Community Connections Center and Supportive Housing, will take place quarterly and is run by the Community Connections Center staff and vocational counselors. During Career Day, Agency clients rotate among four stations that teach skills such as resume building, interview tips and how to dress on an interview, job hunting skills and a mock interview. Over the months, clients learn these critical techniques with their vocational skills counselors and Career Day provides an opportunity to implement them and put them to the test.
“Our goal is to enhance our clients’ job searching skills,” said Chris Jachino, Director of Homeless Services.
A guest speaker from the Norwalk Goodwill Career Center also attended and spoke to clients about the services they provide and answered individual questions.
“The goal is to have a speaker from the community present at each Career Day throughout the year,” said Chris. “We feel strongly that it’s crucial to bring local businesses that have potential job opportunities to Career Day to answer our clients’ questions and allow them an opportunity to network.”
Clients had an opportunity to fill out various job applications with the Homeless Services staff and mail them out or apply to jobs online.
Lunch was provided that afternoon for those who attended and clients were given a bag with items to assist with their job hunt.
To learn more about Career Day and Homeless Services, please contact Chris Jachino, Director, Homeless Services, at (203) 523-5334 or email email@example.com.
March is National Social Work Month. Learn how social workers drive services at Family & Children’s Agency.
Since the 1960s, the month of March has been acknowledged as National Social Work Month, recognizing the meaningful, valuable, and, often times, difficult work of social workers in the lives of those they help. Each year, more than 650,000 social workers nationwide improve the quality of life for struggling individuals facing multiple socioeconomic, physical and emotional barriers. Many of the services provided by Family & Children’s Agency are driven by social workers helping those in our community to build better lives. They are a lifeline in times of crisis, provide resources when none seem available, instill hope, and provide guidance to those in need.
This year’s theme for National Social Work Month, as deemed by the National Association of Social Workers, is “Weaving Threads of Resilience and Advocacy.” This mantra speaks directly to the work of social workers at Family & Children’s Agency who respond to the individual needs of children and families, youth, adults, and seniors each day. By providing strength-based, solution focused services, these licensed social workers (LCSWs) create a strong safety net and raise awareness for diverse individuals and vulnerable populations throughout Fairfield County and beyond.
Social workers in Homeless Services reach the most vulnerable people in our society that live in shelters and sleep on the streets. They work so hard, and with amazing compassion, to build their self-esteem and help with basic needs such as food, clothing and a person to talk to for support. Our goal is to help those experiencing homelessness find housing because everyone deserves a place to call home. —Chris Jachino, LCSW, Director, Homeless Services
The social workers in the Adoption program are responsible for working with all members of the adoption triad—birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adoptee. For birth parents, we provide counseling to help expectant parents explore plans for their unborn child. For adoptive parents, we provide home study services to license prospective families to adopt and follow them through the adoption process. For adoptees, we provide support throughout each stage of their development as they explore what it means to be adopted.—Mary Kate Locke, LCSW, Director, Adoption and Prevention
Social workers, along with clinicians from other disciplines, form the back bone of Behavioral Health services. Their systemic approach benefits not only individual clients, but also helps improve their functionality in school, work, families and their community. Their tireless dedication, positive energy and collaborative efforts all contribute to our clients’ overall well-being.—Elizabeth Murdoch, LCSW, Director, Behavioral Health
Social workers play a key role in the wrap-around support offered to youth and their families in the Agency’s Youth Development programs. Ultimately, the success of our young people is contingent upon many factors and no single intervention or prevention program can make the difference in the life of a child on its own. Social workers have the critically important task of working with the entire family and community system to provide young people the best chance for lifelong success.—Jennifer Barahona, LCSW, Director, Youth Development
Megan Haque, LCSW and geriatric social worker for Home Care Services for Seniors, serves as a liaison between seniors, organizations serving the senior population, and Family & Children’s Agency. She identifies the individual needs of each senior client and their families, matches them with appropriate services, and makes referrals as necessary. Most importantly, Megan creates balance within our department and brings that natural nurturing personality to our busy day of work.—Ligia Masilamani, Director, Home Care Services for Seniors
Social Workers within the foster care system help children realize their full potential. In our attempt to do so, we provide opportunities, along with the foster parent, for the children to heal. Without the consistency and compassion provided by the social workers, children would not be given another chance at success and hope for the future.—Debbie Tadduni, LCSW, Director, Specialized Foster Care
The social workers in the Family Support and Intervention programs work effortlessly to help support the families involved in our programs. They recognize the strengths that each family possesses and build on these to improve the lives of the parents and children. This work is so important as it acknowledges the family’s efforts and desires to create a positive safe environment for their children to grow up and thrive in.—Tiffany McCarthy, LCSW, Director, Family Support and Intervention
The work of these talented social workers provides critical professional expertise to our clients and allows Family & Children’s Agency to continue to weave its threads of resilience and advocacy.
Family & Children’s Agency is Recruiting Junior Board of Directors Members
Family & Children’s Agency is pleased to announce the formation of its Junior Board of Directors and is currently seeking referrals and young professionals interested in making an impact.
From left to right, Natalia Siera Millain, Co-Chair Kristin McClutchy, Corrine Adrada, Co-Chair Doug Stern, Co-Chair Victoria Whitehead, Trey Tomlinson, Sarah Mason, and Brian Vendig. Missing from this photo is Julia Massengil.
The Junior Board of Directors, co-chaired by Board of Directors member Douglas Stern and friends of the Agency Kristin McClutchy and Victoria Whitehead, was created to increase awareness in the community, support and promote the Agency’s mission, provide advocacy, support visibility efforts, and support the Agency’s development efforts. Its members will help plan Junior Board events, volunteer, and support fundraising efforts.
“The Junior Board of Directors is growing and is spearheaded by three very committed co-chairs,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of Family & Children’s Agency. “This is an exciting opportunity to utilize the energy and motivation found among young professionals in Fairfield County.”
The Junior Board kicked off its first initiative in December 2012 with a restaurant night held at Strada 18 in South Norwalk and Boulevard 18 in New Canaan. The Junior Board is currently planning a larger scaled community event, which will take place this fall.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about Family & Children’s Agency’s Junior Board of Directors, please contact Janina Castiglia, Manager, Marketing & Development, at (203) 523-5719 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Mayx Holmes, Manager, Volunteer Services, at (203) 523-5715 or email email@example.com.
Family & Children’s Agency Welcomes New Board of Directors Members
Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) welcomed two new members to its Board of Directors: J. Randall (Randy) Peyser and Douglas Stern.
New Board of Directors members Douglas Stern (left) and J. Randall (Randy) Peyser (right).
Randy Peyser is new to Fairfield County, having moved to Westport three years ago. He is a graduate of Duke University and is currently an executive with IBM having spent 16 years in the financial services division of IBM Global Technology Services. Prior to joining the corporate world, Randy spent 11 years in the nonprofit sector as the Director of Public Libraries with both small and multi-million dollar budgets in New York, Michigan and Illinois. In this role, Randy served as an agent of change to make libraries more proactive to help their communities address their needs. In 2006, Randy established the Joseph L. Peyser Endowment for the Study of New France at Western Michigan University in honor of his father. He also won three national marketing awards from the American Library Association, as well as three national awards from the Bank Marketing Association. Randy’s first significant contribution to FCA was his work in developing the Strategic Business Plan for the Fairfield County IT Connection (FCITC), which is the Agency’s IT Collaboration with Family Centers and FSW.
Douglas Stern, a native of Westport, attended Vanderbilt University and pursued a career in finance at Citigroup. He then enrolled in Tulane University’s Law School in New Orleans and took classes at the Hague and the University of Amsterdam focusing on international criminal law, refugee law and war crimes law. Upon completion of law school, Doug was awarded the Tulane Law School Certificate in International and Comparative Law. Following his completion of the Bar exam in Connecticut, Doug became a licensed attorney in November and opened a practice in Bridgeport, where he primarily practices in criminal defense. Doug’s involvement and commitment to Family & Children’s Agency has grown in the last few years and he currently serves as a co-chair of the Agency’s newly developed Junior Board of Directors.
Family & Children’s Agency is thrilled to include both Randy and Doug on the Board of Directors and look forward to the expertise and motivation each bring.
For more information, contact Marion Herbert, Manager, Communications, at (203) 523-5777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Teens Give Back to Norwalk Youth for Third Consecutive Year
For the third year in a row, St. Luke’s School students Sheetal Akole and Khushwant (Khush) Dhaliwal have generously supported the After School Program at Family & Children’s Agency by donating their proceeds from math tutoring services they provide to the Fairfield Enrichment Club. Sheetal and Khush both presented their donations of $1,000 and $500, respectively, to Jennifer Barahona, Director of Youth Development, at the After School Program’s location at Norwalk Community College. This is the third donation by Sheetal and second by Khush.
St. Luke’s School students Sheetal Akole (far left) and Khushwant Dhaliwal (far right) donated their proceeds from tutoring math to the After School Program at Family & Children’s Agency.
“The commitment by Sheetal and Khush to both continue to tutor math and donate to the After School Program shows they both have a strong understanding of the value of education in our community,” said Barahona. “We are thrilled to accept their donations and they serve as an inspiration to both youth and adults throughout the community.”
“My love of math began at an early age because it was a fun way to solve problems,” said Khush, a sophomore at St. Luke’s School. “By working with the Fairfield Enrichment Clubs, I could use math and solving problems to connect to students with similar interests. I was helping my community in whatever small way I could.”
Sheetal began as a member of the original Fairfield Enrichment Club in fifth grade and began tutoring when she entered high school. Sheetal is a senior at St. Luke’s School and will be attending the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.
“I believe Family & Children’s Agency is an essential part of the community,” said Sheetal. “What I am doing with the Fairfield Enrichment Club is my effort to help students who would like an academic challenge, but the After School Program at Family & Children’s Agency helps students learn and develop in other ways. They don’t only challenge students, but they challenge individuals to understand the world better.”
The Fairfield Enrichment Club is a community service project of high school students who coach students from local elementary and middle schools in mathematical problem solving and math contest preparation.
The After School Program improves the lives of Norwalk’s middle school youth by enabling their successful transition into high school and increasing their ability to be productive, independent young adults. This is accomplished by providing a safe and structured community-based After School Program for students to improve academic performance, develop character, and promote healthy peer interactions and lifestyles.
To learn more about the After School Program, please contact Jennifer Barahona, Director, Youth Development, at (203) 523-5784 or email email@example.com.