It’s that time again! Time to put Harry Johnson and The Children’s Foundation in the spotlight. I recently had the opportunity to interview him by asking five quick questions. Here is his interview:
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up at The Children’s Foundation.
I was born and raised in Southern Illinois. Relocated to Bloomington-Normal to attend Illinois State University and never left the area. From a previous marriage, I have two wonderful children. I worked in the banking industry for over thirty years; positions held included Internal Auditor and Human Resources Manager. After the last bank I was employed by was bought out, my position was eliminated. After I took some time off, I was approached by a friend that The Children’s Foundation needed someone to help with their fundraising. In that I was very familiar with the community, I thought I could help.
2. What are your primary duties as the Regional Development Manager?
The RDM is responsible for cultivating, soliciting, stewarding individual, corporate and foundation donors; assisting in the grant writing process; preparing development budgets and planning fundraising events.
3. What services and programs does The Children’s Foundation offer? Are there any upcoming events you would like to share?
Parents Care + Share is a weekly support group service designed to prevent child abuse and neglect. Through Parents Care + Share, parents and caregivers learn new parenting skills, build family management strategies, and develop positive coping mechanisms to negotiate the day-to-day challenges of being a parent. The Children’s Foundation offers 21 groups across McLean County, and last year, the program served 356 families. Recently, the Children’s Foundation completed a pilot program in the Macon County Correctional Facility to work with incarcerated mothers. The program focuses on responsible parenting and targets mothers whose children are allowed to live in a separate wing of the facility until the age of two.
The Crisis Nursery offers emergency and respite child care services twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year for families who are experiencing short-term crises that interfere with their ability to parent effectively. Services are designed to reduce and prevent child abuse, neglect, and homelessness. The program also includes outreach and educational services to enable families to correct the conditions that caused the family crisis. Last year, the Crisis Nursery served 403 unduplicated young children, providing emergency shelter, food, and clothing. In a recent survey, 98% of parents reported an improved relationship with their child as a result of their relationship with the Crisis Nursery.
The Family Visitation Center provides a vital service for families experiencing domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. The Family Visitation Center provides families a safe, child-centered area for parents to exchange or visit with their children without hostility or confrontation. The Center is the only program of its kind in the region that works predominantly with Family Court and domestic violence issues. Last year, the Family Violent Center protected and assisted approximately 100 families.
The Children’s Waiting Room opened at the McLean County Law and Justice Center in February 2008. The purpose of the Children’s Waiting Room is to minimize children’s exposure to the trauma of court testimony, and secondly, to free the court system of the noise and disruption associated with children in the courtroom. The Children’s Foundation seeks to shield children from seeing and hearing distressing family events relived in court proceedings. In FY09, the Children’s Waiting Room served 1,774 children. It is anticipated that this number will continue to grow, especially during the summer months when children are out of school.
- The Scott Early Learning Center
Every year, the Scott Early Learning Center provides high quality early childhood care and education to almost 230 children in McLean County. The primary goal of the Center is to identify children at risk of academic failure and help these children move toward academic success. All children are born with the same potential to become successful learners. However, research shows that children from high risk environments, defined by poverty, teen and young parents, single parents, and low maternal education, begin to demonstrate significant deficits in learning as early as one year of age. Upon entering kindergarten, five-year-old children from high-risk environments, on average, test at a three-year-old level. If these deficits are not addressed, the majority of these children will face a lifetime of obstacles directly related to poor performance in school. Quality early childhood education can help these children span the gap, and place them on par with their middle-class peers. Research shows that the most cost-effective and successful way to close the achievement gap between children from high-risk environments and their middle-class peers is through early intervention utilizing quality early childhood education. Quality early childhood education investments translate to a difference of 18 IQ points by the age of five. The Scott Early Learning Center is the largest licensed child care provider in McLean County and is the only Center that serves more than 25% subsidized enrollment.
Healthy Start is a voluntary home visiting program providing parent support and education to at-risk parents, who have children ages birth to 5. Healthy Start consists of intense, voluntary services, which utilize positive, persistent outreach efforts to strengthen families and promote access to community resources, reducing the risk of child abuse and neglect and improving maternal and child health. Last year, the Children’s Foundation was able to expand services to 110 local families, including 12 families in DeWitt County and 12 families in Piatt.
The purpose of The Butterfly Project is to promote public awareness, provide community education and training regarding childhood exposure to violence, and to provide direct services to children, ages 0-5, who have been exposed to violence. Children and families receiving services have been exposed to one or multiple types of violence such as domestic violence, family violence, and community violence. The program offers children and their families with the highest quality of services provided within a comprehensive continuum of care. The Butterfly Project started in FY09 and has received 46 referrals. It is anticipated that this number will grow as more parents learn about the program.
The Educational Advocacy program serves educationally mainstreamed children and youth in Bloomington Junior High School in District #87, who are exhibiting social, emotional and/or behavioral problems. Student are identified when social, emotional, and/or behavioral problems negatively impact school performance as demonstrated, by not completing assignments, poor school attendance, truancy, suspensions and/or expulsions. The agency served 13 children in this program in the 2008/2009 school year. All children receiving services demonstrated significantly improved behavior at school and were able to successfully advance to the next grade level with their peers.
Through the Independent Living program, adolescents are guided in the transition from highly structured environments such as group homes or foster care settings into community life and self-reliance. The goal is to facilitate the development of independent living skills and resources in order to move the older teen from dependence on the child welfare system to independence and self-sufficiency. Clients are guided in finding an apartment, setting up a budget, and other independent living skills. Currently there are 6 adolescents enrolled in this valuable program.
4.How can the community get involved or help The Children’s Foundation? What aspects of the organization need the most attention from the region? (e.g. foster care, family services, educational services)
The community can get involved in a number of ways. We rely on volunteers tremendously to support the programs and services provided to children and families. If anyone has some time to spare, we are always looking for dependable volunteers. The Children’s Foundation is approximately 78% funded by local, state and federal government agencies with the majority of funds coming from the state. This month, the governor announced that the Department of Human Services’ budget would be cut by over $550 million dollars. This directly affects social service agencies, like The Children’s Foundation. To reduce the agency’s reliance on state funds, the agency is currently pursuing an aggressive fundraising strategy that will ensure each of its programs can continue to serve the complex and growing needs of the most vulnerable children and families in Illinois during this severe economic downturn. This strategy includes actively seeking charitable donations and grants from private individuals, foundations, corporations, and the federal government. If you would like to make a donation, please see my contact information below.
If anyone would like to tour our facility to see firsthand how the agency is assisting vulnerable families and children, please contact me.
5. What is one valuable life lesson you have learned through the work you do at The Children’s Foundation?
There is a tremendous need for assistance to Bloomington-Normal’s most vulnerable children and families.
Kaitlin – Kaitlin@infinityprintgroup.com or (309)663-5551
Harry Johnson – firstname.lastname@example.org or (309)
– email@example.com or (309) 834-5233
Regional Development Manager
The Children’s Foundation of Children’s Home + Aid
403 So. State Street
Bloomington, IL 61701