Grant to help establish Families First program
By Eileen Bailey
A $114,000 grant to the CREATE Foundation in Tupelo will help the Family Resource Center maintain many of its programs and add new programs to help families in need.
Awarded in December, the Family Preservation and Family Support Services grant will help establish the Families First program, said Dr. Cathy Grace, director of the Family Resource Center.
Families First is designed to create a community partnership with families throughout Lee and Itawamba counties. "The primary focus is on promoting a community of healthy families through comprehensive support and celebration," she said.
The grant was a matching grant and required either financial or in-kind contributions, Grace said. Those helping to match the grant were CREATE, Tupelo and Lee County school districts, SAFE Inc., Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service and the city of Tupelo. These contributions totaled about $75,000.
One of the first things the grant will do is to help maintain and increase the services and programs operated through the center. It will help the center continue such things as the parent educator program, tutorial services and programs through the schools.
Families First also will have the center working more closely with different organizations in Itawamba and Lee counties that work to support families in those communities, she said.
The center will now target families participating in Work First, JOBS and those residents of the Tupelo Housing Authority who are entering the work force for the first time by providing information that will make the transition from home to work less stressful for the family, Grace said.
It also will provide information to parents through in-home and out-of-home meetings that will assist them in providing home experiences that will promote normal child development and growth in language, cognition and social skills, she said. These meetings will be conducted by a parent educator and a full-time employee of the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service.
Other new programs at the center will fund through the grant include:
- Offering counseling services through Mantachie Clinic Region III Mental Health Center to address children and/or adults who have been sexually abused.
- The development of a comprehensive plan to provide the citizens of Itawamba County the opportunity to voice what they perceive as the needs of families. It also will help provide businesses and governmental and educational entities an opportunity to develop a plan to meet those needs.
- The expansion of a Girl Scout program at Shannon School to serve 27 additional girls beginning in the fall. This program is conducted at the sixth-grade level and will be expanded next year to include seventh grade.
- The development of a plan that would allow for a data base community clearinghouse for local service agencies to effectively support families with resources and information to better use existing services in a more comprehensive way.
- The development of a weekend respite care program modeled after a program used by the state Department of Mental Health in Webster County. This programs is for foster parents or parents of children in extreme crisis.
Through the statewide Family Preservation and Family Support Services program, about 17 programs were given grants to provide primary prevention services in their communities. There were 66 applicants for the grants, which are funded for the first eight months with possible additional funding being provided later in the year.
The services assisted by the grants promote parents' strengths and abilities to nurture their children, connect families with the services they need to stay together safely within their homes, help families avoid unnecessary out-of-home placement of children and assist children already in out-of-home care to return to their families safely.
The funds come from the Family Preservation/Family Support Services Act of 1993. This act is an attempt by the federal government to assist state child welfare agencies in funding community programs designed to encourage and assist families in becoming self-directed.
Other area grant recipients include Sunnybrook Children's Home in Jackson, which will serve Alcorn, Tishomingo and Prentiss counties; University of Mississippi/Social Work Department in Oxford, which will serve Lafayette County; and the Sally Kate Winters Memorial Home in West Point that serves Clay and Monroe counties.