BLACKFOOT – Stillwaters Counseling in Blackfoot was notified Friday that the partial care program for children with severe emotional disorders and children at risk of out-of-home placement has been cut by the Department of Health and Welfare. While government funding for the program ends Dec. 31 counselors and social workers at Stillwaters are determined to find a way to continue service. However they admit they will need the community’s help.
“I expect big things from Blackfoot. We are banking on the community,” said Licensed Social Worker KayAnn Hayes. “We will need groups to come forward and help keep this program running and we will need to train volunteers. Together we can make this work and really make a difference to kids that need people to care.”
Hayes has worked with the children in the partial care group since 2005. The group focuses on social interaction, self-esteem, core values and anger management. She says most of the parents are “panicked” about the program being cut.
“These are not regular kids,” explains Hayes. “They have very special needs. These kids would not be able to attend after school programs like SHARK. They have treatment plans. These kids have severe problems and obstacles. Many of them have experienced extreme abuse and we are their only safe place.”
Workers at Stillwaters feel obligated to maintain their relationship with children they have been working with. Their concern extends to children who also may be losing their Medicaid-funded services from other facilities.
“We will also be accepting children who have lost their providers,” said Stacie Stephenson, Stillwaters Counseling office manager. “We have poured enough sweat and tears into our partial care program we will not stop caring for children. We just couldn’t turn away.”
Stillwaters is excited about the opportunities their newfound independence can bring. As a state-funded program they were prohibited from many activities.
“These children have a very limited view of the world. Their opportunities have been very limited,” said Hayes. “Now we will be able to do simple things like take them to the park.”
Stillwaters encourages any individuals, churches, businesses or organizations to visit their facility and learn about the children they serve. They hope the community will help fund the program. Stillwaters will be providing the building and trained personnel.
“We are also looking for people in the community -- especially teenagers--that we can train and then they can help mentor these children,” said Hayes. “We need people that will have an open mind and will be accepting of children. These are special needs children and some have seen excessive abuse. You must work with them where they are with no judgements. You have to see the hope in them because they have no hope.”
If you are interested in donating to the program or would like to volunteer, contact Stephenson at 782-0675. They hope to transition the program with no gap in service.