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A New Center for the Whole Child

December 16, 2013
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The Whole Child last week officially opened its Birth to Five Center in Whittier targeting infants and toddlers ages 0-5 who are identified as high risk for abuse and/or neglect as well as those at high risk of adversity due to special needs.

"These are very high risk families we are dealing with," said Charlene Dimas-Peinado, CEO of The Whole Child. "Children from 0-5 are the most vulnerable population for abuse, neglect, foster care placement, injury and even death. And this is why the early intervention and prevention programs for this population are so important."

First 5 LA and the BCM Foundation provided funding for services for the center, which provides home visits, mental health services, parent enrichment classes, developmental screenings for infants and toddlers, family therapy, workshops and support groups for children and their parents, and preventative programs for perinatal depression in women.

The Whole Child is an established leader in the field of infants' and children's emotional health, offering a comprehensive, coordinated spectrum of highly respected "services without walls" that are provided wherever needed - at The Whole Child Center and its outreach clinics; at area hospitals; at seven local school districts (27 area schools); and in client's homes.

Since the year 2000, First 5 LA has provided more than $2 million to The Whole Child for school readiness, matching funds, capacity building and select home visitation.

"Hospitals help us identify these high risk families early on and we are able to step in and provide these very specialized home-based programs," Dimas-Peinado said. "We are helping parents form healthy early attachments to their babies so that they can be nurturing and meet the emotional needs of their infants."

"With funding from us, they're able to train staff to provide much needed support for families," said Tina Chinakarn, a Grants Management program officer with First 5 LA.

From 2008 to 2013, 12,478 children 0-5 and their parents have been served by the Whole Child in the greater Whittier area.

"First 5 LA has been instrumental in us being able to grow these services that have been desperately needed in our community," Dimas-Peinado said.


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