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.”