Share |

VYFS announces seed funding for two new programs, increased Sheep Dog Classic support

Vashon Youth and Family Services is pleased to announce they have received $40,000 in funding from three sources. Two of the grants will support initial development of two new areas of service.

Northwest Children’s Fund has donated $12,000 to fund a home visiting program for newborns on Vashon. A key part of the program will be the delivery of a “Baby Box” to every infant on Vashon. “We are excited to bring Baby Boxes to Island parents,” said Christine Wood, Manager of VYFS’ Family Education and Support Staff program. “Baby Boxes began in Scandinavia as a safe sleeping promotion. They provide a safe space for infants to sleep, and they offer us an opportunity to connect to new parents on a range of issues from sleep safety to nursing to building community.”
“Our vision is to establish a home visiting program, where a family advocate meets with every new family on the Island, provides them with the Baby Box, acts as a parenting resource for new moms and dads, and helps to connect them to other resources,” said Kathleen Barry Johnson, VYFS Executive Director. “The Northwest Children’s Fund support helps us begin planning, but we intend to find additional resources to create a strong and sustainable program for young families.”

“We are in the planning stages for this program, but we anticipate providing the first Baby Box before the end of 2017,” said Wood.

Statistics show an elevated percentage of Vashon parents have a high number of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). High ACEs can lead to a range of social, emotional and physical challenges throughout a person’s life. Without support, parents with high ACEs are at risk of perpetuating trauma in their children. The Baby Boxes will help families facing particular challenges, as well as every family with a newborn, connect to the resources and support they need to raise thriving, resilient children. “Certainly we want to reach families dealing with special challenges like poverty and trauma, but the home visiting program and Baby Boxes will be available and useful for every infant, and every new family,” said Wood.

The Baby Boxes provide a chance to collaborate with other Island groups. “The boxes come with a sleep-safe mattress pad and other material. We’d like to include Island-specific items to say ‘Welcome’ to our newest neighbors. Part of the planning process will be to reach out to Islanders to seek donations of items for the boxes,” said Wood.

The second grant for expanded services comes from the Norcliffe Foundation, which has pledged $20,000 over the next two years to support the expansion of Vashon Kids services for children in 4th, 5th and 6th grades. “We are serving 4th and 5th graders already,” explained Vashon Kids Director Dalinda Vivero, “but with this funding we will be able to expand our services, include 6th grade program alumni, and create Orca Kids, which engages these older students every day. We are calling it Orca Kids.”

“We know that after‐school programs provide positive experiences for school‐ aged children and youth and are also effective in helping kids achieve school success,” said Johnson. “We frequently hear from families how important Vashon Kids is to them, helping their children and in helping working families keep functioning. This funding helps us create programming specifically to keep the older kids engaged, so they are motivated and interested in the activities we offer.”

“Older kids who aren’t engaged may lobby their parents to be left home alone, which isn’t an ideal situation,” said Vivero. “Creating curriculum that makes them want to come to an after school program is a challenge we embrace. We are going to create a separate space and develop clubs that will keep their interest.”

Both the Northwest Children’s Fund and Norcliffe Foundation grants are investments in the development of new services. “Each grant allows us to build new services, to expand who we are reaching and improve how we deliver services,” said Johnson. “VYFS is committed to delivering the best services possible to meet Island needs, and it is gratifying when funders share this vision.”

VYFS also received an $8,000 grant from the Vashon Sheep Dog Classic, in recognition of the volunteer effort organized by the agency to help operate the 2017 event. The gift, which was larger than last year, will support Vashon Kids operations. “This was an amazing year, with a lot of volunteers and record attendance. We had an expanded role and were thankful for the chance to participate,” said Johnson. “I have to add my gratitude to Catherine Sullivan, who helps organize and train the volunteers, Laura Rollins, a VYFS staff member who pours hours of her time into the event, and of course every volunteer who made this possible.”