Every parent knows the stress of meeting the daily demands of caring for their children. That stress grows even greater when parents are struggling to provide the most basic needs. Children may be at an increased risk of abuse or neglect when a parent is having a tough time buying clothing and food, paying the rent or making this month’s utility bill.
Windwood Family Services’ community-based prevention and intervention program steps in and assists hundreds of Lowcountry families each year. While visiting families in the privacy of their homes, staff members provide emotional support and build up the family members confidence to make the right decisions in raising their children.
As part of their services, they provide parenting education and teach stress reduction techniques. Each family’s needs are assessed and they are taught how to secure the community resources they need such as vocational training, food banks and utility assistance programs. Staff members also help qualify families for state health and financial benefit programs.
Each service provided and skill learned is a stepping stone towards their independence. Through generous donations from supporters, Windwood can also provide families with household supplies to brighten up their homes.
The team at Windwood hopes by intervening and helping families early, more children will remain in their homes and avoid the issues related to entering the foster care or juvenile justice system
“Our community-based prevention program works to remove roadblocks that are preventing families from succeeding. Our solution focused approach alleviates situational crises that increase a child’s risk of being removed from their home,” explains Callie Vanderbilt, Communications Director for Windwood. “It’s one of the preventative measures we take that keeps kids with low to moderate problematic behaviors from needing a residential placement at Windwood Farm.”
On its 110-acre farm in Awendaw, Windwood Family Services also cares for 27 boys ages 6 to 16 that are not able to be successful in their home or community without the added security and support of a 24 hour a day treatment facility. In addition to living in a safe and secure environment, the boys attend school, receive therapy sessions on site, and learn how to relate and get along with others.
In 2016, Windwood worked with over 800 children and their families. Their success rate is extremely high – 97 percent of the families served learn valuable life skills, decrease the stressors in their everyday lives, create a nurturing home setting, and maintain custody of their children.
It’s all about breaking the cycle, Vanderbilt says. Our state’s child welfare and foster care system is overcrowded, there are more children in need of a safe home than the state is currently able to provide. Windwood’s primary goal is to give the primary caregivers the tools they need to be good parents and raise healthy, stable children.
“We're really trying to lift up the parents instead of beating them down, which is what happens when their kids are taken away,” Vanderbilt says. “With the skill building services we provide, we are working to keep children and families together in their own homes.”
Caring for the boys on the farm, providing community outreach services
and offering counseling services at our outpatient center in Mount Pleasant are costly to operate. In February, Windwood Family Services will host its largest annual fundraiser, Pork & Pearls on Feb. 25. All proceeds from the event benefit Windwood continue its work helping children and families in the tri-county area.
Want to help? Come out and join us on the Grand Lawn of the Volvo Car Stadium on Daniel Island. The event is from 3-7 p.m. Saturday, on Feb. 25
Enjoy live music, all-you-can-eat oysters and barbecue, drinks and a silent auction. The kids’ zone includes a gaming truck, jump castle and petting zoo. Local band The High Divers will perform, and the Shem Creek Boogie Band will take the stage from 5-7 p.m.
Early-bird tickets are $40 for adults and $15 for kids ages 3 to 15. Buy tickets at Windwoodfarm.org/pork-pearls-is-back/.