Tuesday, December 18, 2007
More than 63,000 families in Atlantic County have benefited from services provided at the Atlantic County Family Centers during the past ten years. Services include mental health counseling, education, employment resources, parenting skills, economic assistance and recreation.
"The family centers help fill a void based on the specific needs of the communities they serve," explained County Executive Dennis Levinson. "Their goal is to provide comprehensive community based social services in a family friendly environment. They have proven to be instrumental in decreasing child poverty and increasing child wellness throughout the county."
Family centers are located in Atlantic City, Pleasantville, Egg Harbor Township and Hammonton. During fiscal year 2006-07, the family centers experienced an 11 percent increase in services provided to their clients with emphasis on recreation, health and education.
In Atlantic City where the majority of clients are youth, services emphasize self esteem building, problem solving and social skills development. Programs include Musicians of Tomorrow, Ace the Test program, Beautiful You, Dare to Be Kings/Queens, Are You a Money Smart Kid and summer camp.
Twenty-six percent of the clients served at the Hammonton Family Center are 60 years of age and older and benefit from assistance in filing applications for home energey assistance. Last year the Hammonton Family Center became a member of the Hammonton Chamber of Commerce and partnered with the Town of Hammonton and Hammonton Recreation Department in planning the town's Fourth of July celebration. The Hammonton Family Center also participated in the school system's open house.
In Egg Harbor Township, 35 percent of clients are between the ages of 20 and 39 and receive access to utility and food assistance, homelessness prevention and employment resources. The center hosts Family Fun Day, an annual Car/Motorcycle Show and sponsors a summer day camp.
Forty-one percent of clients served by the Pleasantville Family Center are also between the ages of 20 and 39. Services include drug and alcohol assessments, economic assistance, mental health counseling, home energy assistance and information on nutrition, medical care and child development. The center also provides an Anti Gang/Violence Prevention program and counseling services in cooperation with the Pleasantville Middle School.
The Atlantic County Family Centers were recognized as an effective model for providing comprehensive community based social services by the New Jersey State Attorney General's Office and the New Jersey State Department of Children and Families.
"People don't always know where to go for support. The family centers are an ideal place to start, in a non-intimidating atmosphere," concluded Levinson.
The Atlantic County Family Centers are located as follows:
Egg Harbor Township Family Center
3050 Spruce Avenue
Hammonton Family Center
310 Bellevue Avenue
Martin Luther King Family Center
1700 Marmora Avenue, Atlantic city
Pleasantville Family Center
9 S. Main Street
Uptown Complex Family Center
323 Madison Avenue, Atlantic City
For more information, contact Cindy Hamer, Atlantic County Children and Families Initiative Administrator, at (609) 645-7700, ext. 4529 or Leesa Seymour, Project Coordinator at ext. 4332.