Partnership for Children in Elkhart County

A grant from the Elkhart Community Foundation will fund a new initiative called the Partnership for Children. The grant will help 12 non-profits share resources and make them more accessible to youth and families throughout Elkhart County.

The program creates an avenue for the non-profits involved, like after school centers to link up with other youth programs, and even a mental health center. The hope is that these organizations will work together to help at-risk kids stay in school and out of the system.

“Some of our kids have behavior issues and a lot of our staff isn't trained to work with the average kid let alone a kid with issues and so when you are going to train our staff that's a big bonus,” said Terra Ternet an Education Coordinator at Tolson Center. 

Ternet says this new grant by the Elkhart County Community Foundation will be a big benefit.

“A lot of times we have to resort to suspensions until we have a meeting with the parent but then we can't really do much for the parent,” say Ternet. 

Ternet says some kids have behavioral issues that Tolson Center staff did not have the background to deal with on their own. The Partnership for Children is expected to change that by allowing groups to use one another's resources, and make them more accessible to families at no cost.

“A lot of our kids come here from these neighborhoods and so they can come right here and get the services that they would normally have to go elsewhere for,” says Ternet.

The 12 agencies that will share resources are Bashor Children's Home, Five Star, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County, Lifeline Youth Ministries, Boys and Girls Club of Elkhart, Oaklawn, CAPS, Ryan's Place, Center for Community Justice, The Post, The Crossing, and Tolson Center. 

A Tolson Center child, 8-year-old Jeremiah is thankful for the help the after school programs have provided him. 

“Well they give us things like help, and they are really nice,” said Jeremiah. 

Youth Supervisor Kindle Riley says at the end of the day no matter how big or small a behavioral issue may be, the extra training will help them take preventative action.

“They all have their own personalities but some of our kids they have underlying issues they are not yet equipped to deal with so it's a challenge but we are up for it,” says Riley. 

The three year grant provided by the Elkhart County Community Foundation is for $250,000.
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