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A Letter from Michael McSurdy

Thank you for “attending” our VIRTUAL Biscuit Breakfast! We have enjoyed celebrating out Luminary Award winners Charlane and Allison thus far, and now we want to take a moment to let you know a little more about Family & Children’s Service (FCS) and the crucial ways we support our community ongoing and specifically during these unprecedented times.

FCS is one of Middle Tennessee’s primary providers of counseling, case management and crisis intervention services for our community’s most vulnerable people, and the pandemic has not changed this. We remain committed to serving anyone who needs us. In the fiscal year ending June 30th, FCS served nearly 50,000 people. Our goal in all programs is to be as accessible as possible to all those in need or having experiencing trauma and loss. During these challenging times FCS staff have been reaching out to people in many ways, big and small. Here are some recent examples of our important work:

  • At public-school based Family Resource Centers, FCS staff distribute food boxes, diapers, toiletries — even pet supplies — to hundreds of families that desperately need them every week. We are also there to offer direct support and linkage to the full array of FCS programs to those most in need.
  • Our Crisis Contact Center has experienced a big increase in calls since the beginning of the pandemic. Calls focus on fears about COVID-19, anxiety about job loss, domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, and often suicide — all exacerbated by the isolation resulting from the pandemic. This Crisis Contact Center answered nearly 25,000 calls in the fiscal year ending June 30th and just had its busiest week ever in early August.
  • Our Relative Caregiver Program supports relatives (mostly grandparents) caring for children whose parents are unable to care for them due to incarceration, drug use, mental illness, and other concerns. Staff members have remained in touch with the caregivers and children via phone, text, and video conferencing and have been dropping of food boxes and household supplies on porches because many of our families have no transportation and or limited funds. The program serves more than 300 low-income clients.
  • Thanks to switching from in-person to phone screenings, Family Focused Solutions (FFS) staff have increased the percentage of referrals they assess from an average of 55% before the pandemic to as high as 95% after the beginning of the pandemic. This is due to the elimination of transportation and childcare barriers for clients. FFS helps families transition from public assistance to self-sufficiency.
  • The FCS counseling team now serves hundreds of people each month via tele-health and has created innovative support resources including short emotional support and self-care videos that have been popular with clients.
  • During the pandemic, our Health Access program is providing assistance to people who have lost insurance due to job loss or change. Our staff work to connect clients to affordable health insurance and low and no-cost community-based health care. More than 14,000 clients received assistance through Health Access at FCS during the fiscal year ending June 30th.

All these crucial services are free of charge to our clients thanks to the generosity of our community partners, sponsors, and individual donors. And these supports and Family & Children’s Service have never been in greater demand than they are right now. None of this is possible without your support. Please, support Family & Children’s Service as we support the Nashville community during the pandemic and beyond.

Thank you for your attention and support of FCS during our online Family Biscuit Breakfast campaign this week. Congratulations to our two Luminary Award Winners, Charlane Oliver and Allison Plattsmier. This year’s award ceremony was small, and we practiced social distancing and wore masks, but it is still as meaningful.

Every dollar is helpful and appreciated. Thank you!