Report: Despite pandemic, Milford's Boys & Girls Village created positive outcomes

MILFORD — Despite numerous and unprecedented challenges last year, Boys & Girls Village managed to create positive outcomes, according to Kim Shaunesey, the organization’s president and CEO.

Boys & Girls Village recently released its annual report for 2020. One of the positive outcomes was more than 75 percent of the children helped by the organization’s Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy have increased school attendance and have avoided involvement in the juvenile justice system, according to the report..

The therapy helps children who are at risk of substance abuse and are exhibiting emotional and behavioral difficulties. Therapists go to the youth’s home, provide one-on-one therapy with the youth and counseling with the parents, and offer activities and assistance to help ease interactions between the youth and the parents.

Ultimately the goal is to provide the children with the tools they need to feel better about themselves, build stronger relationships with their peers and reduce stress. It also helps the parents improve their communication and relationship with their child and ultimately reduces the chance of substance abuse on the part of the child, according to the report.

In another positive, Boys & Girls Village reported that its Parent Support Services, which was new last year, had more than 70 percent of parents report reduced stress about parenting and reduced depression.

The program offers parents and caregivers guidance in developing emotional strength in children and focuses on the attachment between parent and child. Similar programs have proven to decrease parental stress and depression, improve a child’s social and emotional outcomes that ultimately reduce the chance of abuse or family rupture in the future.

According to the report, parents who have completed the support program have reported a better understanding of how to communicate with their infants, adolescents and teens.

Boys & Girls Village also completed the new Vocational Learning Center on the Milford campus last year, Shaunesy said. The vocational center has partnered with Gateway and Housatonic community colleges to help provide a curriculum and to offer college credits for students, to make it more possible for students to find jobs and have a successful adulthood, she said.

“We are confident that this opportunity will help better prepare our older youth to find jobs and have successful adulthood,” she said.

Shaunesey, who was new to Boys & Girls Village last year, said her first year as president and CEO was a challenge.

“The confusion, fear and heartbreak caused by COVID-19 has weighed heavy on our staff and clients,” she said.

When COVID-19 became a reality, staff acted quickly and found solutions that ranged from initiating tele-medicine therapy sessions to improving air filtration systems to keep residents, students and staff safe without abandoning the needs of the families they serve, she said. Staff also collected fund donations, thermometers and food from board members. The business community also contributed by donating face shields and masks.

In total revenue, Boys & Girls Village received $26.7 million. Of that total, 62 percent came from program fees, 35 percent from government support, and the rest from a combination of rental income, grants, contributions and special events.