BRADENTON -- It wasn't long ago the Family Partnership Center's principal objective was enhancing the parenting skills of its clients.
That's changed radically the last four years.
"We've found ourselves serving younger and younger families, been bringing diapers, formula and food," said executive director David Potter. "We can't afford to buy all this stuff. We've been able to get volunteers to donate, but not to the point we can handle the overwhelming need."
Which is why the recent $4,000 donation by the Manatee Community Foundation, through the generosity of the Evans Family Fund and the Lawrence E. Ruf Charitable Fund, was most welcome.
Now in its 18th year, the Family Partnership Center serves 2,400 at-risk parents and children.
"These families are desperate," Potter said. "It's critical someone step up and help us and having the Foundation behind us allows us to follow our primary mission -- strengthen families and prevent child abuse in at-risk families."
The funds are earmarked for the nonprofit's newborn parenting programs and will provide education and support to at-risk parents of
newborns focusing on child development, health, infant care and safety.
Adequate nutrition for young children is a major concern for brain growth as well as good hygiene practices for illness prevention and healthy development, Potter said.
Providing parentingeducation and resourcesencourages positive outcomes for the childrenand end negative and potentially dangerous practices.
"If you show them you care, you can establish caring and credibility which makes your message more substantial," he said.
"Thanks in part to the Manatee CommunityFoundation, the families served will become stronger and better equipped to create a safe and nurturing environment for their children."
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix