Whaley Children’s Center receives $15,000 grant to enhance mental health programs

FLINT, Michigan — The Whaley Children’s Center (WCC) recently received $15,000 in grant funding from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. This support will go towards program enhancements to better meet the mental health needs of local children. 

According to Whaley's Marketing Coordinator Denise Zerka, the Children’s Center’s roots date back to the late 1800s when Robert Whaley's son died of diphtheria at the age of 10. While Rober and his wife were going through their son's belongings, they found a jar of coins he had been saving to go towards an orphanage he had visited.

When Robert Whaley passed, he bequeathed funds to establish Donald M. Whaley Memorial Home (its former name) in 1926 in memory of his son, with a mission of providing care for ‘homeless and neglected children.’ Since then, Whaley Children's Center provides shelter, hope, and healing to nearly 90 children each year who are survivors of horrific abuse and neglect.

The organization’s mission is to empower youth and families and assist in their trauma recovery. “We strive to be leaders in the treatment of at-risk children and their families and create an environment that fosters positive change and growth,” said Zerka.

The center plans to use the grant money to add program enhancements including telehealth services, staff development, enrichment opportunities, and support on the floor in a more trauma-informed environment. 

“With additional funding, we will be able to improve our trauma-informed practices that will create a treatment plan that best meets the needs of the youth and their family,” explained Zerka. “One that engages and supports our youth and their family members for a successful transition when they leave our care.”

Whaley Children's Center sits at 1201 N Grand Traverse St. in Flint.President and CEO of Whaley Children’s Center, Mindy Williams, is grateful for the support from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “This grant will help us provide the best care possible for our kids.”

It’s crucial for community organizations and those providing valuable resources to take input from the community and respond to their needs. Zerka says over the years, Whaley's has consistently made changes to fit the needs of its population. 

“Currently, WCC has seen the need for more support for foster youth aging out of the system,” said Zerka. “WCC has acquired two homes to be used for its Independent Living Program. These homes will help meet the needs of the foster youth aging out of the system and assist with the necessary skills and tools needed to be a successful young adult.”

“As child welfare changes, we will continue to evolve and make necessary changes so that we will continue providing the best care, support, and treatment for the youth we serve,” she continued.

Zerka also brought up one of Whaley's lesser-known programs which is the mentoring program. “Mentors spend at least four hours a month one-on-one with a child residing at our Center,” she said. “Mentors make a huge impact on the lives of our children.”

Once halted during the pandemic, the program is now up and running and accepting mentor applications

To learn more about Whaley's Children's Center, visit: whaleychildren.org

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.