Agency Spotlight: Brigid Collins Family Support Center

Jan 11, 2023

For some of us, memories of childhood are blissful and happy. For others, the things we experienced in childhood can be extremely traumatic and can take a lifetime to overcome. According to the CDC, at least 1 in 7 children in the United States have experienced abuse or neglect in the past year. Childhood abuse and neglect are a type of ACE (adverse childhood experience). ACEs can have lasting negative consequences on those who have them, including reduced earning potential, higher risk of financial trouble, and higher risk of substance abuse disorder.

As a champion for families, Brigid Collins Family Support Center provides lifechanging services to our community’s kids and families to help them heal from and overcome trauma and abuse. Trauma and abuse at a young age can be devastating for a family. Brigid Collins works hard to help child victims of abuse and other crime find healing. As a partner of United Way of Whatcom County, they help to support our community in a variety of ways, from providing for basic needs to offering therapy services, parenting classes, support groups, and so much more.

We chatted with our friends over at Brigid Collins to help you learn more about what they do for our community:

For those who may not know, how does your agency help individuals and families in Whatcom County?

“Brigid Collins Family Support Center provides services to child victims of abuse and many other types of crime. When a family has experienced a crime or other trauma, we provide services that help families heal and restabilize including case management, therapy, financial assistance, and parenting support. Today, we serve more than 2,000 families each year throughout the northwest corner of Washington. Our Children’s Advocacy Center works closely with law enforcement officers, social services providers, medical practitioners, mental health professionals, prosecutors, and others to provide a coordinated response to child physical and sexual abuse cases in our community, ensuring that every child and family can get the support they need to heal and find justice. It is with the support of donors and partners like United Way of Whatcom County that allows us to offer our services to every family, regardless of whether they can afford to pay for them.”

What are 3 things people may not know about your organization or services?

“Brigid Collins Family Support Center provides financial assistance to help families with basic needs including groceries, clothing, rent, utilities, or emergency car repairs. If children and families are worried about where their next meal is coming from or whether they will have a place to live when then they cannot focus on healing.

While Brigid Collins Family Support Center’s mission is to end child abuse, we offer much more. The Brigid Collins Parenting Academy is a program that is open to all parents who want support. Being a parent is hard and we want parents to know that not only is it okay for parenting to be hard, it’s also normal. Raising children is a tremendous responsibility and the Parenting Academy is a place where any parent can get support using quality, evidence-based parent coaching, including Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Positive Parenting Program (Triple P), as well as parenting seminars on important topics such as “Parenting in the Digital Age,” “Emotion Coaching,” “Brain Builders,” “Essential Skills for Learning and Life,” and “How to survive Birth to Five”.

We currently offer more than 10 different types of evidence-based programs and mental health services that reduce the risk of child abuse and childhood trauma and support families “health and wellness,” allowing us to meet the diverse needs of families in Whatcom County.”

What new challenges have you seen emerge?

“The impact that COVID-19 has made on the world’s mental health cannot be ignored. During the COVID-19 pandemic people experienced stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness, significantly impacting and intensifying childhood trauma. There is also currently a major shortage of mental health professionals who are equipped to work with children who have experienced trauma, which is often much different than treating trauma in adults and requires additional specialized training. Trauma left untreated can result in consequences felt not only by the child throughout their lifetime, but their entire family and community. Our staff are working to meet these needs and help break this cycle.”

When a child heals, when a family receives counseling, and when new parents receive support, we all win. This work is crucial to building communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Thank you, Brigid Collins, for all you do for our community!

United Way of Whatcom County partners with several other local nonprofits that support families walking through trauma, as well as a network of agencies helping to meet basic needs, improve economic mobility, and break cycles of poverty in our community. When you give to United Way, you support this and over 20 other local nonprofits in our community.

Thank you to every single one of our donors, community members, sponsors, workplaces, and Board members for supporting United Way. You time, money, and support help to create solutions that work for our community’s toughest problems. No one can change the world alone. Your gift helps address the root causes of poverty all at once and provides struggling friends and family access to the tools they need to become stable.

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