LOGAN – The Family Place centers in Cache Valley are in line to benefit from a $900,000 CARES Act grant to the statewide Utah Association of Family Support Centers (UAFSC).
Margie Woodruff, the UAFSC executive director, credits Utah Rep. Dan Johnson, R-District 4, with leading the effort to obtain those funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act through a grant program being administered by state officials.
“Families in Utah are facing increased stress during this difficult time,” Woodruff explained. “Rep. Johnson is keenly aware of the impact that (the coronavirus pandemic) will have on children. He recognizes the unique value of the Family Support Centers and enthusiastically supported these emergency relief funds.”
The UAFSC is a statewide network of 17 independently operated community centers with a shared mission to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. That network includes The Family Place, which was originally established in Logan in 1982 and now has three centers in Logan, Hyrum and Smithfield serving families in Cache and Rich counties.
Each of the UAFSC locations offer 24-hour crisis and nursery services, plus parenting education, information and referral assistance. Other UAFSC services include on-site therapists, adoption and foster care guidance, in-home parenting support and transitional housing assistance.
In the past year, UAFSC facilities provided services to nearly 40,000 clients, including more than 143,000 hours of child-care in their crisis and respite nurseries.
“I think we are so blessed to have non-profits like the Family Support Centers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make a difference in the lives of others,” Johnson emphasized. “I have such respect for non-profits and the legislature needs to find ways to support their work.”
Children are especially vulnerable to abuse during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to advice from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. Recent research shows that increased stress levels among parents is often a major predictor of physical abuse and neglect of children. Psychologists suggest that stressed parents may be more likely to respond to their children’s anxious behaviors or demands in aggressive or abusive ways.
Although actual reports of children abuse are down statewide, Utah victim services agencies estimate that child abuse has nevertheless increased by 100 percent since the outbreak of the pandemic. They attribute the reduction in reporting of child abuse to the fact that schools have been closed since mid-March, because a significant portion of child abuse reports are initiated by teachers.
Johnson worked with legislative analysts and UAFSC leaders from centers across the state — including Esterlee Molyneux, the chief relationship officer for The Family Place in Logan – to secure the $900,000 CARES Act grant.
“I saw the difference that The Family Place makes in Cache County,” Johnson said, “and realized that funds from the CARES Act could help similar centers across the state … in helping to meet the needs of kids and families who have struggled during these difficult times.”
Molyneux called Johnson a “hero for all children and parents throughout the state … who takes initiative, studies issues, listens and is passionate about his purpose and effective in his advocacy.”