Non-profits team up to fill gap in Harvey-recovery child services during summer break

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HOUSTON— Whether or not kids in Houston are looking forward to summer vacation this year, could have a lot to do with how bad Hurricane Harvey hit their household last fall.

“We need to get over this idea that everything is back to normal,” Dr. Bob Sanbornwith Children at Risk said. “The end of the school year for children, certainly children impacted by Harvey means that there is no sense of stability."

Schools provide stability—  structured schedules, planned meals, and a shared purpose— for five days a week. Non-profit groups convened at the Houston Food Bank to get the word out. They plan to help fill in the gap when schools let out.

For instance, the Houston Food Bank and the YMCA is teaming up to expand meal programs.

“We will do about 50% more feeding than we have done in past years, it means making as many of our sites as we can, what we call `open sites` and trying to market that more which means that a parent can bring a child, a grandparent, anyone and the child can come and just eat the lunch and then go home, they do not need to be a part of our day camp programs,” Paul McEntire with YMCA of Greater Houston said.

Also, teachers and other school staff have played an important role in our children's mental health recovery after the trauma Harvey put them through, in part thanks to the efforts of Mental Health America of Greater Houston's Center for School Behavioral Health.

“One of the things we were able to do is to train as many teachers as possible so that they could identify signs and symptoms of trauma and respond to them appropriately," says Janet Pozmantier, the director for the Center for School Behavioral Health at Mental Health America.

The Center offers online tool kits for parents who might find their children exhibiting behaviors associated with PTSD from their storm-related trauma, as well as trainings for parents and caregivers.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and these villagers plan to help keep "Houston Strong" this Summer.

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