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United Way of the Midlands Awards Funds to Critical Programs Supporting Local Children & Families

August 23, 2021

Child Saving Institute (CSI) recently received grants totaling $127,900 from United Way of the Midlands. Thanks to the generosity of United Way donors, CSI can continue offering services to children and their families who participate in the organization’s School & Family Enrichment (SAFE), KidSquad, Teen & Young Parent Program (TYPP) and Independent Living Skills (ILS) programs. United Way also provided funding to support the CSI’s Emergency Shelter and Mental Health Services (Pediatric & Adolescent Therapy) programs.

“We are extremely grateful for United Way’s continued support of critical programs for the prevention, intervention and healing of child abuse, neglect and trauma in the Omaha-metro community,” said Peg Harriott, CSI President & CEO. “These funds directly help thousands of local children and families find hope and healing—especially during these unusually challenging times.”

What follows is the story of a child who received help through CSI’s KidSquad program.

KidSquad began their relationship with 3-year-old Jonathan in September 2019. He was referred by his school because of aggressive behavior—he did not follow rules, expectations and he could not clearly communicate his wants and needs. Little Jonathan lacked social skills and emotional regulation to connect with his peers, so he relied on negative or aggressive behavior, which brought stress to the classroom and his family.

Collaboratively, Jonathan’s mom, teachers and KidSquad consultant developed a behavior support plan that was implemented consistently at home and in the classroom. Despite the pandemic and closing of schools in 2020, CSI’s KidSquad consultant continued to meet with Jonathan and his mother in their home and virtually when needed.

Today, Jonathan, his mother and his teachers have valuable and productive conversations that continue to enhance Jonathan’s learning and development while in the classroom. Jonathan’s mother stated: “KidSquad has really helped Jonathan. It brought a big improvement to our lives. It has provided me with parenting education and resources that I have been able to apply daily. Personally, it has helped me positively interact with my son.”

This story is just one example of how CSI helps strengthen families and change children’s lives, in part because of United Way grants. CSI received funding for six programs.

KidSquad
KidSquad provides mental health and educational consultations to licensed childcare centers, teachers and parents and families experiencing difficulties with behaviors presented by a child. The free program serves Douglas and Sarpy counties with a focus on providing services to low income or those living in poverty. When contacted for services, staff work with children ages birth to 6 years of age, their teachers and classmates, and their parents and families to ensure their social-emotional development is on par with their peers and that they are kindergarten ready when the time comes. In 2020, KidSquad provided consultation to 71 classrooms in 49 childcare centers. Over 990 children were enrolled in these classrooms. In addition, the program provided individualized support to 61 children and their families.

Emergency Shelter for Youth
United Way funding allows CSI to provide a safe, secure living environment for youth who are in crisis and do not have other appropriate housing options. Youth receive one-to-one and group therapy during their stay, in addition to referrals to other needed services for themselves and their families. In 2020, CSI’s Emergency Shelter provided therapeutic care and safety to 61 youth.

Mental Health Services (Pediatric & Adolescent Therapy)
With United Way’s support, CSI’s Mental Health Services (Pediatric & Adolescent Therapy) program seeks to prevent child abuse and neglect and to heal with families in which abuse and neglect has occurred. This is achieved by helping children and families improve coping skills and functioning, achieving better mental health. CSI’s Mental Health Services provided hope and healing to 334 children and families in 2020.

Teen & Young Parent Program (TYPP)
TYPP, a dual-generation program, focuses on safety, permanency and child and family well-being to ensure safe, happy and healthy families. With United Way funding, CSI is able to focus on those families who have the greatest need for services and connections to community resources. In 2020, 71 young parents engaged in TYPP to gain valuable parenting skills/education and connect with additional community resources to achieve future success for their families.

School & Family Enrichment (SAFE)
With United Way funding, the SAFE program offers home and school-based support for at-risk school-aged children and their families in Omaha Public Schools, Millard Public Schools and Bellevue Public Schools. The program works to improve the outcomes for children who experience barriers to learning because of difficulties at school and/or in their homes or neighborhoods. Last year,102 children received services through CSI’s SAFE program despite unusual school settings for many children during the pandemic.  

Independent Living Skills (ILS)
Youth who transition to adulthood have a much greater chance of ending up homeless than their peers do. With assistance from United Way, the ILS program helps teens and young adults develop the life skills needed to live independently and connect with other programs and services for future success. ILS supports vulnerable youth ages 14-26 who are transitioning from foster acre into unsupported adulthood. The ILS program served 68 youth in 2020, despite many challenges posed by the pandemic.

About United Way of the Midlands
United Way of the Midlands (UWM) has served the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro for more than 95 years. Guided by best practices and community input, it approaches poverty in a specific way – a “united” way. With the support of volunteers, community partners and donors, UWM invests donor dollars efficiently and effectively in our local community. These dollars fund basic needs, education and financial stability programs at local nonprofits, creating a circle of support for people in need. Please visit unitedwaymidlands.org for more information.

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