On January 30th our guest speaker was Chris Robertson, Executive Director of Exchange Club C.A.S.T.L. E. which was formed in 1981 as an effort to help parents learn better parenting skills and child abuse prevention.
The C.A.S.T.L.E. serves families in Okeechobee, Martin, Saint Lucie and Indian River Counties. The population served is: families who are at risk for abusing or neglecting their children; families who have had a reported incident of abuse or neglect but who, with support and education, can eliminate further episodes of abuse; families with children 0-18.
Various programs have been offered by CASTLE:
- Safe Families – In-home parenting education for families with minor children.
- Families First – A 5-hour course for parents of minor children who are going through divorce or separation; usually court ordered.
- High Hopes for Kids – A group course offered to elementary and middle school children where they learn to express themselves in a positive way when their parents are going through a divorce or separation; offered in public schools
- Positive Parenting – A 15-hour course to educate parents on how to raise their children using proper techniques so that they learn how to care for their children in a healthy home environment, and therefore prevent abuse and neglect.
- Strengthening Families – A 14-week family group program offering parents and children the opportunity to deal with family issues that cause conflict, while sharing their thoughts and ideas for creating a better home environment without fear of abuse or neglect.
- Valued Visits – A court ordered program offering a safe place for non-custodial parents or parents who have lost custody of their children, to meet with their children and develop a healthy relationship with them so that one day they can be reunited without fear of abuse or neglect.
After the previous Executive Director’s controversial management style was criticized publicly, massive funding to C.A.S.T.L.E. was lost and many programs have since been cut. Almost all programs in Indian River County have been cut. Since the management change Chris has served as interim Executive Director, and in December 2018 was appointed Executive Director.
C.A.S.T.L.E. now has 7 full time and 4 part time facilitators. Its 8 remaining board members and 3 foundation board members are actively working with dedicated staff and with National Exchange and Florida District Exchange to help move forward.
State funding is still ongoing in Okeechobee County. The foundation, fundraising and grants are other sources of income for other counties. The Safe Parenting program costs approximately $50,000 annually. The High Hopes for Kids program costs $5,000 per school per semester.
Before closing Chris mentioned the Memory Field which will be displayed in Riverview Park in April. There will 101 flags this year (down from 122 last year).
For more information contact Chris at 772-465-6011 or visit www.facebook.com/castletc.