The Florida Department of Health reports 400,000 children suffer from emotional, behavioral and developmental challenges, but only about half are able to access the treatment they need.

As we’ve seen too often, this can lead to tragic circumstances … situations that may have been avoidable had youth received the intervention they so desperately needed.

While this drives me in my work as the regional executive director for Children’s Home Society of Florida, my determination is first propelled by my most important role – that of a father. As a dad, the thought of even one child suffering in my own neighborhood is one too many, let alone thousands.

Each of these children is another reason I am grateful for Volusia County’s new Family Resource Center.

A 2019 Volusia Community Health Needs Assessment determined that local youth struggle to access mental health care for a variety of reasons including lack of knowledge of services and how to obtain them. We all know what happened the next year, when the pandemic shut the world down – leaving struggling families feeling even more isolated.

But no more. The brainchild of Sheriff Mike Chitwood, the Volusia Family Resource Center is a new approach to child and youth mental health care, breaking down access barriers to vital treatment in Volusia County.

As a national leader in trauma-informed care, Children’s Home Society of Florida knows there is no one-size-fits-all solution to mental health care. In fact, we have 120-year legacy of providing individualized care based on each child and every family’s unique strengths, challenges and needs. Throughout Volusia, Flagler and Putnam counties, our clinical services are also tailored to meet the needs of the community. From 24/7 crisis response teams and school-based mental health counseling to individual and family therapy, we meet kids and families where they’re at with the approaches and interventions that can help them overcome tough challenges so they can reach their full potential.

We’re honored to be one of the community partners providing care in the Volusia Family Resource Center – alongside the Department of Juvenile Justice, Halifax Behavioral Services and Volusia County Schools, and the list is growing. Together, thanks to the Sheriff Chitwood’s activism, we will all come together to identify and address the immediate needs of our community’s children in a one-stop-shop.

I am overwhelmed by the potential and power of this collaboration and the hope it inspires for a brighter future.