Champions for Children opens at Milford Wellness Village

Agency bridges gap between caregivers and healthcare professionals
May 10, 2022

Champions for Children’s Mental Health, a nonprofit organization providing support for families with children who have mental health or behavioral challenges, recently opened at the Milford Wellness Village, owned and operated by Nationwide Healthcare Services.

Incorporated in 2016, Champions for Children provides family peer support services including identification of resources, navigation in care systems, connection with services and more.

“We are excited to have Champions for Children at the Milford Wellness Village,” said Lon Kieffer, Milford Wellness Village executive director. “Their addition reinforces our vision of filling gaps in healthcare and offering an array of services for the community who may otherwise might not be able to benefit from access to a wellness approach.”

Champions for Children focuses on the caregiver so individuals and families can maintain their own wellness while they look after those they care for.

“Our services are very unique in the children’s mental health world,” said Barbara Messick, Champions for Children executive director. “When a child is diagnosed, you can find services for your child, but nobody is there for you as the caregiver.”

The agency grew from Messick’s frustration with the lack of support for families or caregivers with children who have behavioral issues.

“If I had somebody to help me walk through that whole journey, I wouldn’t have felt alone,” said Messick, a mother of three. “We serve as a bridge between families and professionals.”

Messick said she was drawn to the Milford Wellness Village because of the leadership shown by Nationwide Healthcare Services President and CEO Meir Gelley.

“Mr. Gelley and Lon wanted to know about our mission and story, and why we do what we do,” Messick said. “You don’t get that most times because landlords are usually focused on collecting your rent. Everybody here has just been amazing since we moved in. It takes a village to raise a child, and it’s truly a village here. There’s a lot of networking and referral possibilities for everyone on the campus. It’s a good connection for our families to be so close to everyone else.”

Champions for Children plans to begin a pilot program that would serve two new populations. Help for families separated by the Division of Family Services would include working with families to get children back to their homes; and support for families whose incarcerated children are 90 days from returning home would facilitate continuing mental health services they received while incarcerated.

The pilot program is pending approval and grant funding.

Champions for Children has 11 contractors and is looking for more to serve New Castle County, Messick said. Contractors are parents who have children with a mental health diagnosis and are willing to share their stories with others.

The Milford Wellness Village is about 80% occupied, with approximately 33,000 square feet of space available, including 20,000 square feet on the main campus and 10,000 square feet in the rear building, which is under renovation.

Owned by Nationwide Healthcare Services, Milford Wellness Village is an innovative, multiuse campus committed to delivering integrated health, education and other services to the City of Milford, Kent and Sussex counties, and the State of Delaware. Coordinated services are being provided by a select mix of like-minded organizations and tenants that equally share the desire to improve the health and well-being of area residents and reduce overall costs.

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