Wayne County Family Connection has been doing a lot in our community during this time that has been affected by Covid-19. Our focus has been on mental health awareness throughout Wayne County. and what can be done to bring more awareness in hopes of removing the stigma associated with mental health. May is Mental Health awareness month, established in the United States in 1949. One way to bring awareness has been implemented in Wayne County High School as they put into action the “Be The 1 To” campaign. Wayne County Family Connection would like to join with WCHS and challenge our citizens to “Be The 1 To”.


Ask: Asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you are open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way.

Keep Them Safe: First, it is good for everyone to be on the same page. After the “Ask” step, and you have determined suicide is indeed being talked about, it is important to find out a few things to establish immediate safety.

Be There: This could mean being physically present for someone, speaking with them on the phone when you can, or any other way that shows support for the person at risk.

Help Them Connect: Helping someone with thoughts of suicide connect with ongoing support that can help them establish a safety net for those moments they find themselves in a crisis.

Follow Up: After your initial contact with a person experiencing thoughts of suicide, and after you have connected them with the immediate support systems they need, make sure to follow-up with them to see how they are doing.

For more information on the “Be The 1 To” campaign and what we are doing to bring awareness follow Wayne County Family Connection on social media.

Make a difference in the life of a child!

Make a difference in the life of a child!

(Editor’s note: Rachel Autry is the advocacy and recruitment coordinator for Tri-County CASA Inc.)

The month of April recognizes national child abuse prevention awareness and education. COVID-19 is preventing many of those who normally see children on a daily basis from doing so. It is more important than ever to be those eyes and ears of our community.

Along with community partners, here is how one agency is doing its part.

Tri-County CASA Inc. volunteers have been advocating for the foster children of Appling, Wayne and Jeff Davis counties for more than 20 years. CASA volunteers, or court-appointed special advocates, are specially trained community citizens who advocate for abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system. These amazing volunteers are agents of the court, appointed by juvenile court judges, and advocate for the child’s best interest. The CASA volunteer offers the judges a broad and objective picture of the child’s life so that they can make the most informed decision for that child’s permanent placement.

It is through review, research, meetings and visits that a CASA volunteer gathers information and monitors the child’s case through the juvenile legal system. A CASA volunteer engages regularly with his or her assigned child and creates and fosters a close relationship not only to be a voice for that child but to convey to the court that child’s wishes for a permanent home.

CASA volunteers are everyday citizens and bring a wealth of personal and professional wisdom, along with specialized training, observation and support. Volunteers are at least 21 years of age, consent to and pass a thorough background check, and complete 40 hours of classroom training and courtroom observation. CASA volunteers are screened to uphold professional and unbiased requirements, continue training throughout their commitment, and report suspected child abuse and neglect. All of these requirements ensure that the highest possible standards are maintained.

Tri-County CASA volunteers range in age from the early 20s to the 70s and have varied educational backgrounds, and more than half work either full-time or part-time while volunteering. CASA volunteers are supported by Tri-County CASA staff throughout their assignments and are offered additional training, support and education to serve their children and continue to advocate for their child’s best interest.

It takes only one person to make a lifelong difference in the life of a child. Is that person YOU? Tri-County CASA Inc. continues to accept volunteers and offers volunteer training classes year-round. To find out more about this nonprofit organization and how you can become an advocate for local foster children, contact Tri-County CASA Inc. at (912) 367-0064, or visit our website at tri-countycasainc.org or our Tri-County CASA Inc. Facebook page.

To report suspected child abuse and/or neglect, call 1-855-GACHILD (1-855-422-4253). Reports are taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Interested in Head Start or pre-K?

By Lynn Robinson

(Editor’s note: Lynn Robinson is a family services worker for the Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority, which operates Wayne County Head Start & Pre-K.)

Will your child be 3 or 4 on or before Sept. 1? Are immunizations current? Do you have proof of income for the last 12 months (W2 or three consecutive recent paystubs, SSI, SSA, child support or other)? Do you have no income?

We have paperwork for you to use to complete the enrollment process. Come to Wayne County Head Start and Pre-K.

This federally funded national program provides comprehensive child developmental services to children. Head Start works with other community agencies and contract professionals to provide a program with health, nutritional, educational and social services.

Just as with traditional educational facilities, your child’s attendance really matters. Children can’t learn if they do not attend.

You, as a parent, are a big part of the process. Parents can become fully involved in the development of their child through our policy council, center committees, classroom volunteering and many other avenues. There are monthly parent meetings covering various subjects, including cooking, budgeting, child development, health resources and much more. There are monthly activities for fathers and other family members, such as kite building, flower planting, bubble blowing and more, to encourage the relationship between the parent and the child.

What are some of the rewards? Your child will gain skills that will assist them when entering public school. As a parent, you will gain skills and develop resources to help you to encourage further development in your child. Since family and family members participate in the process, your child will understand that education is valuable and their family wants them to be successful.

So what’s next? To apply for Head Start (and pre-K), you will need the child’s birth certificate, proof of income (last 12 months or calendar year), and a Georgia immunization certificate (form No. 3231). Please be ready to supply the Social Security number, the child’s most recent physical exam and dental exam, and a medical insurance document. Pre-K placement requires additional documents, including residency information, a 3300 form and a pre-K enrollment form.

Once you have submitted all of the information; and if your child is determined to be eligible for the program, your child will be placed on a priority list based on information from your application. The points are arranged from highest to lowest. Selection is not done on a first-come, first-served basis. The list is constantly changing as each new application is taken. The process is easy and the rewards are great!

Want more information?  Please contact 427-4527, or visit Wayne County Head Start & Pre-K at 724 N. Fourth St. in Jesup. See you soon!

(For the children currently enrolled this school year: Your child is considered for pre-K positions for the 2020-2021 school year—provided additional documents are obtained. These include a re-enrollment package, along with pre-K documentation.)

Student sees need for suicide prevention

By Lana Wright

(Editor’s note: Lana Wright is the executive director of Wayne County Family Connection.)

The following excerpt is from an essay is submitted by a 10th-grade student at Wayne County High School to bring awareness to a current social problem we have in our community: mental health.

The essay is heart-wrenching but at the same time provides a valuable insight to what some of our students are feeling.

Wayne County Family Connection’s Strategic Plan for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a goal of combating the current mental health issues within our community. 

As you read this essay, please be aware that there are several ongoing processes currently being worked on to help with mental health Issues within our community. In order to be successful, it will take the effort of many; therefore, if you are willing to help us work on this growing concern, Wayne Family Connection welcomes any member of our community to join us.

Our next meeting will be conducted on Oct. 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The focus of our meeting is to discuss implementing mental health awareness and education. The address is 367 Bamboo St. in Jesup.

The essay reads, “An important social problem in our community is suicide. Suicides are a serious issue that needs to have drastic response. In our community, there have been a total of four high school students who have decided to take their own lives in the past four years. I want to see the high school and community take action on this. Students should not have to feel this is the only way to solve their problems.

“You never know when someone is having a hard time. I wish that the school would hire someone the students trust and they would like to talk to. Getting a professional therapist to stay at the school or even someone that can come to the school occasionally would benefit the school and the students. Another idea to help advocate suicide prevention is that the schools could have an assembly where suicide survivors could talk about their experiences and recovery. These ideas could help the current problem with suicide in our community. If the schools get someone to talk to the students, then we will hear from someone who is going through or has gone through a rough time. This would really help students cope and know there are other options, such as therapy, healthy diets, being active, etc. 

“I am nervous this is going to happen again, since last month ago another girl took her life. This negative stigma surrounding mental health needs to stop. The school and the community need to work together to resolve this ongoing mental health issue. There have been three suicides this calendar year and one a few years ago. All of these suicides need to be accounted for through new and updated programs at the high school and through community involvement. This issue can be resolved, but only with the cooperation of the high school, the community and Wayne County as a whole.”

For more information please contact me at 256-2150.

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