FSU center partners with ‘Save the Children’ to provide resources for those affected by Hurricane Michael

Save the Children, a nongovernmental international organization with a focus on children, operates in more than 120 countries around the world.

A Florida State University center has received an $80,000 grant from Save the Children to help those affected by Hurricane Michael.

The Center for the Study and Promotion of Communities, Families and Children (CFC Center) within the FSU College of Social Work will use the grant to respond to the mental health needs of children, families, teachers and community providers experiencing trauma as a result of Hurricane Michael. The project will run from May to December 2019, with a possible opportunity to extend funding into the spring and summer of 2020.

Save the Children, a nongovernmental international organization with a focus on children, operates in more than 120 countries around the world. The partnership with FSU will build a local capacity to support children over the long term in the Florida Panhandle.

“This is a unique opportunity for the university to work with a global organization that promotes children’s rights and provides evidence-based behavioral health assistance for people impacted by natural disasters and war,” said Jim Clark, dean of the FSU College of Social Work.

The project started May 13 with a three-day training conducted by Save the Children for FSU social work faculty and graduate students. Psychosocial services will be provided to middle school youth beginning June 10 at the 21st Century Summer Camps run by the Bay County School District in Panama City.

The CFC Center will coordinate services to be provided by students from FSU’s Master of Social Work clinical program. The graduate students will work with the Save the Children project as part of their required field internship placements, and they will be supervised by licensed clinical social work faculty from the college.

Through the project, FSU student facilitators will support children in developing positive coping strategies to deal with their emotions; build on the inner strengths of each child to further develop positive coping mechanisms; and instill a sense of hope and empower children to feel more in control of their lives.

Participating FSU faculty and students will receive training and experience in developing psychosocial group programming while providing critical aid to children, youth and caregivers in the affected communities. Students who participate also will gain invaluable experience in learning an evidence-informed approach to disaster recovery.

In addition, the CFC Center will collaborate with the City of Tallahassee, Leon County and Save the Children to bring a hurricane preparedness event designed especially for young children to Tallahassee in July. Filled with games and activities, the “Prep Rally” will make preparedness doable and fun while teaching children the basics they need to develop lifelong safety skills.

This fall, students and faculty will work with Gadsden and Calhoun School districts to hold psychosocial groups for caregivers and provide services for children and youth. In partnership with Save the Children, the CFC Center will hold a communitywide resiliency and awareness event, tentatively scheduled for October, in these counties to raise awareness of the importance of addressing the mental health needs of children before, during and after disasters, in addition to building community resilience.

For more information, contact the director of the CFC Center, Ellen Piekalkiewicz, at epiekalkiewicz@fsu.edu.