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Brevard C.A.R.E.S. launches Cribs for Kids

With the goal of reducing the number of infant deaths that occur from unsafe sleeping practices, Brevard C.A.R.E.S. the organization dedicated to protecting children and preventing abuse and neglect recently became a Cribs for Kids® chapter; the first in Brevard County.

  Through a trademark licensing agreement with Sudden Infant Death Services (SIDS) of Pennsylvania, Brevard C.A.R.E.S. will conduct community outreach programs to raise awareness and educate adults about the dangers of unsafe sleeping practices for children, as well as provide Grayco Pack n’ Play portable cribs to parents and caregivers with children from birth to six months of age.

Children in unsafe sleep environments, including adult beds, are at 40 times greater risk of dying. Cribs for Kids began in 2004 when four Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations recognized the need for a safe sleep initiative in their communities, due to the large number of infant deaths, all of which involved unsafe sleep practices.  Since then, over 250 chapters have been added in 47 states.

Brevard C.A.R.E.S. is part of the Safe Sleep Coalition of Brevard County which includes the State of Florida Department of Children and Families, Children’s Advocacy Center, United Way of Brevard’s Healthy Families, Healthy Start, and Wuesthoff Hospital System. The group formed last year when Brevard County experienced a dramatic increase in the number of fatalities related to infants in unsafe sleeping environments. The circumstances of theses deaths became all the more tragic by the fact that all of the deaths were preventable.

“Even one death that is preventable is one too many,” said Brevard C.A.R.E.S. executive director, Valerie Holmes.  “Cribs for Kids will help to provide a safe sleeping environment for young children and engage those who are caring for them, addressing education, crib affordability, and cultural practices regarding familial sleeping arrangements. Our target population will be mothers and fathers of infants, less than six months of age, and family caregivers like grandparents, and aunts and uncles.”

There is no charge to families seeking the cribs and no income parameters. To be eligible to receive the Pack and Play, parents or caregivers must complete an education and awareness component about safe sleeping practices, the dangers of co-sleeping, and the risk factors associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Education programs take place at Brevard C.A.R.E.S. Family Resource Center – 4085 South U.S. Hwy. 1, in Rockledge. Referrals will be accepted from any agency or organization providing services to families and children; a family can also refer themselves. Those interested in a making a referral to the Cribs for Kids Program can call Brevard C.A.R.E.S. at (321) 632-2737.

The program includes the “Back to Sleep” initiative that was launched in 2001 and is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of “back-sleep” positions for infants.  The number of SIDS death in the United States decreased by 53% between 1992 and 2001 after the initiative was launched.

In the U.S., SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants one month to one year of age and each year claims the lives of nearly 2,500 infants and young children. In addition, there are up to 2,000 sudden, unexpected infant deaths (SUID) caused by accidental suffocation or accidents during sleep. For many of these children, the safe sleep and safety recommendations set forth by First Candle and the American Academy of Pediatrics may have been able to save their lives.

Havertys donates bed to burn victim

Havertys Furniture Companies’ Melbourne location recently provided a child healing from second and third degree burns with a queen size mattress and box spring.  The child’s family is being served through Brevard C.A.R.E.S.

“This donation helped a family during a time when it was most needed,” said Brevard C.A.R.E.S. executive director, Valerie Holmes.  “It’s allowed the child to return home and recover in familiar surroundings, surrounded by his family.”

Brevard C.A.R.E.S. welcomes financial and in-kind donations from the community.  These assist the organization in providing goods and services for the children and families it serves.

Holmes receives Child Abuse Prevention Leader Award

Valerie Holmes, executive director of Brevard C.A.R.E.S. received the Brevard Child Abuse Prevention Task Force “Child Abuse Prevention Leader” award at the organization’s annual banquet held recently in Viera. The award recognizes an individual in the community who has proven to be a pioneering leader in the field of child welfare, with multiple years of service toward strengthening children, families and the community.

Ms. Holmes has been a leader in the development and management of Brevard County’s child welfare system for the past five years. With the help of her experience and expertise the Brevard C.A.R.E.S. program has successfully diverted over 6,800 children from the dependency system and kept more than 3,000 families from reaching the threshold of abuse and neglect. Since the inception of Brevard C.A.R.E.S. in 2005, the census of children in the dependency system has decreased from 1,530 to fewer than 750 today.  At any given time, Brevard C.A.R.E.S. is serving over 500 children and their families. Her leadership has been pivotal in the reduction of child abuse in Brevard County by 50%.

In September 2009, she began her role as the executive director of Brevard C.A.R.E.S., with responsibility for the oversight of all administrative, fiscal and programmatic activities of the prevention and diversion programs. She also works in concert with the C.A.R.E.S. national replication team and serves as the principal point-of-contact and project lead on any research and data analysis of Brevard C.A.R.E.S.

Ms. Holmes has worked in the social services field and in a variety of community based settings since 1994, including those that serve victims of domestic violence, as well as those with serious mental and terminal illnesses.  For the past 10 years she has devoted her services in the field of child welfare.

As the director of operations for Child and Family Services at Brevard Family Partnership, since the agency’s inception in August 2004, Ms. Holmes has provided leadership and oversight of the agency’s intake, placement, adoption, child welfare pre-paid mental health plan, out-of-home care, licensing and child placing agencies.  She also trained and engaged stakeholders through the start-up and transition to Brevard County’s new system of care, which moved the child welfare program from a state-run to a localized, community-based form of management.

Ms. Holmes received her M.S. degree in Counseling and Psychology from Troy University in 2005 and an M.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida in 2001.  She received a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida in 1993.

BFP Reaches Milestone

Brevard Family Partnership, Brevard County’s lead child welfare agency has achieved a milestone, marking its fifth anniversary of protecting children and strengthening families. On January 30, 2005, the State of Florida Department of Children and Families initiated its first contract with what was then Community Based Care of Brevard. Brevard Family Partnership, Brevard County’s lead child welfare agency has achieved a milestone, marking its fifth anniversary of protecting children and strengthening families. On January 30, 2005, the State of Florida Department of Children and Families initiated its first contract with what was then Community Based Care of Brevard. Brevard Family Partnership, Brevard County’s lead child welfare agency has achieved a milestone, marking its fifth anniversary of protecting children and strengthening families. On January 30, 2005, the State of Florida Department of Children and Families initiated its first contract with what was then Community Based Care of Brevard.