Families First gets crucial grant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; The Families First Resource Center received a grant in October from Mississippi Department of Human Services, the main grant they rely on each year to operate.

Over the years, Families First has come close to losing all of its funding several times. This year, they received $195,000 in state funds, and the county has matched it with $66,781 in facilities and equipment use, said Jeanine Wickham, fiscal officer for Adams County Youth Court and Families First.

&8220;No grant is 100 percent sure every year,&8221; Wickham said. &8220;Every grant contract says it only applies as long as funding is available. So every year, you have to write a proposal.&8221;

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Families First has received this particular grant, which runs through Sept. 30 next year, since 2000, she said.

The organization, overseen by the youth court, promotes healthy families, provides counseling to families and stresses abstinence, Wickham said.

Families first took on a new role this past year, in becoming a district center that now serves Adams, Wilkinson, Jefferson, Franklin and Amite Counties, she said.

&8220;We provide services for each county,&8221; Wickham said. &8220;We supply masters-level instructors to teach our abstinence programs, a variety of parenting programs, fatherhood initiatives, and happy marriage programs.&8221;

Families First can also arrange for speakers to talk about nutrition, diabetes, hygiene and physical fitness, she said. The organization has a variety of parenting curriculums that address issues from the legal system to adoptive parent training.

Counties can call in and schedule a class, and speakers and instructors will travel where they are needed, she said.