A $1.25M grant has been awarded by the Minnesota Department of Health to Winona’s Family & Children (FCC) to expand its home visiting program, Healthy Families, into Winona County.
The $250,000 per year award for five years represents one of the largest one-time state grants the agency has ever received. FCC’s history in Winona and La Crosse has roots that go back more than 140 years.
The Healthy Families home visiting program will serve 40 families in Winona County with early intervention and prevention services for children ages birth to 5. The goal is to promote the well-being of children, strengthen families by providing voluntary, free family-centered, culturally respectful support, connect families with community resources, prevent abuse and neglect, and help stop the cycle of abuse.
According to Tita Yutuc, LCSW, LICSW, President/CEO of Family & Children’s Center, “Our home visiting program, through Healthy Families of America, has successfully served more than 1,000 area families for 30 years, and we most recently expanded into Vernon County, Wisconsin. The agency is grateful for this opportunity to bring this successful program to Winona County residents.”
“FCC has established partnerships in and with Winona County, and with other service providers,” adds Yutuc, LCSW, LICSW. “Our agency is determined to help families grow into productive and healthy members of society.”
With the partnerships, FCC has established over decades, we are well positioned to understand the culture and connections to best serve Winona County. FCC’s goal is to intervene as early as possible to adapt proven programs and services to assist children and families and prevent the need for more intensive care later in life.”
Winona County had been determined to be one of 12 at-risk counties in Minnesota according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Minnesota Strong Foundations Family Home Visiting funding is designed to strengthen families with early intervention and prevention services. FCC’s goal is to intervene as early as possible when children are young to bring proven, integrated programs and services not only to assist struggling children and families, but also to prevent the need for more intensive care in the future.
Some of the services FCC operates in Winona include Matty’s Place, a child abuse prevention and advocacy program; Outpatient Counseling, Youth Assessments, Treatment Foster Care, Day Treatment, Safe Visitation (supervised visits) and Hiawatha Hall, an intensive residential treatment facility, to name a few.
“The challenges facing families are growing and are more complicated than ever before,” says Ellen Hongerholt, FCC’s Director of Advancement and Marketing. “Our staff have seen the number of families living with mental illness, child abuse, social isolation, addiction, and poverty increase, especially following the challenges over the last two years. These difficulties permeate our schools and workplaces and impact everything from safety and crime rates to societal productivity and taxes.”
With a total operating budget of approximately $9M, Family & Children’s Center served more than 4,600 children, youth, and adults last year. It is one of the largest social service agencies in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, operating seven facilities in Winona, La Crosse, Black River Falls, Sparta, and Viroqua. Programs in Winona comprise nearly one-third of its annual operating budget.