Grant Awarded To Provide Mental Health Therapist At Local Elementary School

The Allen Wirtz Nobbe and Jo Bowe Nobbe Fund at The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has awarded The Florida Center for Early Childhood with a grant of $50,000 in $25,000 increments each semester, to support the mental health professional position at Gocio Elementary School. The Florida Center is the leading provider of therapeutic services for young children and their families in Sarasota, Charlotte, Manatee and DeSoto/Hardee counties.

The funding allows for a mental health therapist to be housed on the Gocio campus full time.  This position began in August 2017 through a partnership with The Community Foundation of Sarasota County.  The position is intended to support vulnerable parents and their children with “deep” family issues to help break the cycle of trauma that is often generational.  This approach, often referred to as Two Generational or a “2Gen”, creates opportunities to address the needs of both the child and the adults in their life. The position provides one-on-one therapy for students, family therapy, parenting support, and teacher support that can include one-on-one consultation, and classroom support.

“It’s been a seamless transition starting at Gocio Elementary School as the mental health therapist. I’ve had the opportunity to share my knowledge with staff, students, and families about mental health and the effects of trauma. It’s typically generational and not only effects the child but the whole family system. It takes a village to create a positive impact and being placed at the school minimizes a barrier for the families,” said Jennifer Garafola, licensed clinical social worker, and the current mental health professional at the school.

According to the Community Foundation of Sarasota, education, reliable economic supports, social capital, health, and well-being are the four vital aspects of helping children and their families break the cycle of poverty. By providing emotional support and empowering families, The Florida Center, with the support of The Community Foundation, is able to address the issues that can keep parents and their children in a vulnerable state.