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Tykes & Teens expands infant, children, and adolescent mental health services into Indian River County

Tykes & Teens expands infant, children, and adolescent mental health services into Indian River County

Lauren Espitia, For Luminaries
Published 2:29 p.m. ET Aug. 13, 2018 | Updated 2:35 p.m. ET Aug. 13, 2018

It took Tykes & Teens CEO Jeff Shearer 20 years to decide to expand mental health services beyond Martin County, but once he did, there was no stopping him.

“I wanted to have both the infrastructure and community backing to support a successful expansion,” said Shearer. “Indian River County has been extraordinarily welcoming. The funders and community organizations here place a high value on mental health, and we are thrilled that they recognize the impact that our innovative interventions can have in this community.”

Tykes & Teens was established in 1996 to ensure that all children have access to high quality mental health services. In addition to counseling they provide prevention and education and have trained more than 75 schools and organizations in trauma informed care, including teachers and school resource officers in Indian River County.

Funders and partners responsible for Tykes and Teens’ expansion into Indian River County, from left, Tykes & Teens Board President Elect Rev. C. Michael York of First Presbyterian Church of Vero Beach, Director of Healthy Start Services Cecilia Escorbore, Tykes & Teens Director of Vero Beach Services Brieanna Fernandez, Indian River County Healthy Start CEO Andrea Berry, Indian River Impact 100 Board Member Barbara DiMarzo, United Way of Indian River County CEO Meredith Egan, Indian River Impact 100 Community Partners Chair Gladys C. LaForge, Childcare Resources Executive Director Shannon McGuire Bowman, Indian River County Director of Human Services Brad Bernauer, Tykes & Teens CEO Jeff Shearer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Indian River County Executive Director Elizabeth Thomason, and Tykes & Teens Director of Development Paula Hundt. (Photo: Phil Reid Photography/For Luminaries)

The agency first expanded into Indian River in 2016, partnering with Healthy Start to manage the Healthy Families program. Infant Mental Health came next, thanks to funding from the County Commission’s Children’s Services Advisory Committee.

Tykes & Teens made waves as a finalist in its first attempt at Indian River Impact 100 funding and used those monies to launch Infant Mental Health Consultation. That initial work paid off, and in 2018 Tykes & Teens was named an Impact 100 winner and was able to fully implement the program that provides Infant Mental Health specialists on site at childcare centers, supporting and training teachers to treat the source of behavioral problems and reduce pre-school suspensions.

“In addition to providing support to Childcare Resources program families, Tykes & Teens has underscored the importance of infant mental health, both through in-service training with our staff and in a presentation to center directors,” said Childcare Resources Executive Director Shannon McGuire Bowman.  “We look forward to continuing to work with Tykes & Teens, as the valuable resources they provide strengthen the early childhood community throughout Indian River County.”

This fall Tykes & Teens will launch the Alternative to Out of School Suspension Program at the Boys & Girls Club in Vero Beach. This program replicates the successful Tykes & Teens program of the same name in Martin County, which has consistently reduced middle and high school suspension recidivism for more than 19 years.

This programming is made possible through funding from United Way of Indian River County, the John’s Island Foundation Community Service League and the Children’s Services Advisory Committee, with support from the Indian River County School District and Boys & Girls Clubs of Indian River County. For more, visit www.tykesandteens.org.


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