Press Release - May 5, 2014

Contact:  Andrea Wojcik
302-633-2501 or 985-1330 (c)

Delaware Children’s Department Activities Highlight
Children’s Mental Health Awareness

Wilmington – In an effortto raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and how to access services locally, the Delaware Children’s Department is celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week May 5 – 10, with a series of events and a request to wear green on Thursday, May 8 –– Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

The week begins with visits to early care and education providers to incorporate a curriculum on emotions and feelings. On Tuesday, May 6, Nancy Widdoes, Deputy Director of the Office of Early Learning, will join staff from the Department’s Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) at the Tender Loving Kare Child Care & Learning Center III in Smyrna for the program called Somedays I Feel. On Wednesday, May 7, Children’s Department Secretary Jennifer Ranji will visit the The Little Caboose Childcare & Learning Center in Newark to conduct the program and on Thursday, May 8, Children’s Department Community Relations Coordinator Andrea Wojcik will join the children at Downing’s Loving & Learning Center in Ellendale. The special guests will engage children in the 3 and 4 year-old classrooms in a discussion on feelings by playing an interactive game; reading from a custom-made book titled Somedays I Feel … and observing a performance by the children about feelings. 

May 8 also marks Wear Green Day in Delaware to further raise awareness about the needs of children and youth and their families who experience emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges.  The Children’s Department is asking all Delawareans to wear green to highlight the importance of positive mental health from birth.  The color green symbolizes growth, support, health, healing and hope.

Additional activities planned for the week include a sponsored House Resolution on May 7 by Rep. Debra Heffernan, co-chair of the Kids Caucus.  And on May 8, DPBHS will partner with Rita’s Water Ice for the 10th Annual “Get the Scoop on Mental Health” campaign at participating locations. Between 6 – 8 p.m., DPBHS staff will provide informationon children’s behavioral health and coupons for a free scoop of water ice at the following Rita’s locations: 

Bellefonte – 722 Philadelphia Pike
Claymont – 3230 Philadelphia Pike
New Castle – Community Plaza Shopping Ctr.
Milford – 937 North DuPont Highway
Newark – 600 Newark Shopping Center
Rehoboth Beach – Midway Galleria
Seaford – 1250 Norman Eskridge Highway
Wilmington – 2222 Silverside Road
Wilmington – 3730 Kirkwood Hwy.
Wilmington – 317 Maryland Ave.

With the right resources, children and youth with mental, emotional and behavioral health needs and their families can achieve a better quality of life. When untreated, however, mental health issues can lead to school failure, family conflicts, drug abuse, violence, and even suicide.

“Over the last several years,” explained DPBHS Director Susan Cycyk, “a system-wide transformation has been underway to serve Delaware’s children and their families, including therapists receiving training in proven treatments; early childhood providers learning new skills to address challenging behaviors; and most importantly, children and their caregivers experiencing healthier family interaction.”

Cycyk added that last year’s increased funding for after school and prevention programming has led to an expansion of early intervention services for adolescents including placing licensed Behavioral Health Consultants in Middle Schools statewide and supporting afterschool and summer prevention programs.  Additionally, 53 Family Crisis Therapists are working with designated elementary schools to provide a range of interventions designed to remove barriers to academic and social success.

The Children’s Department provides services to children who have been abused, neglected, are dependent, have mental health or substance problems, have been adjudicated delinquent by the Courts, as well as prevention services targeted toward all youth. For more information, please visit www.kids.delaware.gov .