Season of Wishes: Natchez Children’s Home offers variety of programs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2014

NATCHEZ — Things may appear a bit different this holiday season at Natchez Children’s Home Services, and executive director Nancy Hungerford’s wish is that the community understands the changes.

The children’s home, founded in 1816 as an orphanage, was forced to make some changes five years ago that had them abandon their residential program.

Now, Hungerford compares NCHS to a strip mall, with services for kids behind every door, including a children’s advocacy center, outpatient clinical services, a family preservation program and a preschool day program.

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“I need people to understand all the things that we are doing,” Hungerford said. “We are helping more children than we ever did with residential. We need funds and continued support of this community and beyond to offer our array of things. Behind every door, there is a service.”

One of the main services NCHS is now offering is a forensic interview for children who were allegedly abused.

“We’ve done almost 150 interviews for Adams, Claiborne, Jefferson and Wilkinson counties,” Hungerford said. “A child has to only tell their story one time because it is recorded, and it is helping law enforcement and the legal system successfully prosecute.”

NCHS also offers counseling services to people ages 6 to 21 and MYPAC, the Mississippi Youth Programs Around the Clock.

“It is a family preservation program,” Hungerford said. “Now, the model is to keep the children in the family and bring services to the family and child, whether it is through the school system, medical resources, parenting classes or counseling. We have the capacity to do telemedicine services, too, so children don’t have to go to Jackson for those services.”

Hungerford said numbers fluctuate, but she anticipates helping at least 100 children locally.

Anyone interested in helping or making a donation can call the office at 601-442-6858 or visit Hungerford said gifts can be payable to Natchez Children’s Home Services and mailed to PO Box 2028 Natchez 39210, or brought by the children’s home.