Home-based child care: a boon for local families and workforce

Finding reliable and affordable child care can be a daunting task for families… and after COVID-19 it became even more challenging due to the shortage of qualified child care providers. Prior to the pandemic, Monmouth County had 60 registered family child care providers, but as of April 2022, that number of providers dropped to 47 – a decline of 21.7%. This startling statistic, along with an increased number of parents looking for a home-based child care program, prompted the Monmouth ACTS Early Childhood Success Hub to take action. Hub members collaborated to brainstorm a solution. That’s when Hub member Child…
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Department of Health & Local Organizations Join Together to Provide Homebound Services for Community Leader

When multiple sources refer to someone as a “pillar of the community,” you can safely assume that person is a beloved and trusted figure. Fran Gray and her adopted son Rashon That’s Frances “Fran” Gray – a longtime Neptune resident and business owner. Fran is respected throughout the community – she organized scholarship programs and coat drives through her church, volunteered at the food pantry, and participated in the Neptune Lion’s Club. When prom season rolled around, Fran would always offer her hairstyling and makeup services for free to young women who couldn’t afford it. Perhaps most impressively, Fran had…
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Community Collaborative Creates Change, Offers Hope for Monmouth County Homeless

Community Collaborative Creates Change, Offers Hope for Monmouth County Homeless

When Pastor Terrence K. Porter, senior minister of Pilgrim Baptist Church (PBC) of Red Bank spearheaded the church’s original “Warming Center,” the mission was simple: Offer a warm, comfortable shelter to homeless men in Monmouth County on Code Blue nights – when temperatures drop to 32 degrees or below. The undertaking proved highly successful – it became the “go-to” warming center, serving an average of 21 guests on Code Blue nights. But when Pastor Porter and other community partners like the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation saw a greater community need, the Warming Center was rebranded to the JBJ &…
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Five Organizations Work Together to Provide Social-Emotional Learning to Freehold Students

As teachers and school leaders determine what educational losses students faced due to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is another skill that was lost that is harder to quantify – social-emotional learning (SEL). “With students spending more time at home and away from the normal school environment, it was difficult when the time came to return,” says Brendan Ward, Program Manager, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Coastal & Northern NJ (BBBSCNJ). “Students struggled with healthy relationships, conflict resolution, adapting to new settings and situations – generally, co-existing in a normal school setting was difficult for them. We took…
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Monmouth County Recovery Collaborative Impacts the Lives of Two New Jersey Siblings

Two local residents went from living in squalor and dealing with the ravages of substance abuse to living in safety and sobriety, and even playing Bingo each night. It’s possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of Monmouth ACTS (Assisting Community Through Services). Back in 2020, helping those who suffered with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) was more difficult than ever due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team behind Monmouth ACTS  knew more support was needed, and through their connections and advocacy, a grant was awarded to RWJBarnabas Health Institute for Prevention and Recovery (IFPR) that allowed for the…
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Not One Person Turned Away at Warming Centers During 2021 “Code Blue” Season

FREEHOLD, NJ – Winter 2021 brought some seriously cold days that turned into bitterly cold nights. While most people were hunkered down safe and warm in their homes, there were others in the community who were not as fortunate. However, no one was turned away from much-needed shelter this past winter season through the collaborative efforts of Monmouth County Office of OEM, MCDSS, the Homeless Systems Collaborative, the Office of Planning and Contracting, Monmouth ACTS and various other community agencies. One place that was instrumental in housing the homeless during any “Code Blue” weather was Pilgrim Baptist Church of Red…
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County Organizations Join Forces to Cultivate Funding for Childcare During Pandemic

FREEHOLD, NJ – Flashback to March 2020 when a full shutdown was mandated due to the pandemic. LADACIN Network’s Give and Take Childcare was scrambling to figure out how its teaching staff could continue to support families even though they could no longer be together physically. The nonprofit provides support and services for individuals with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities, in addition to an integrated child care center which serves typically developing children and children with special needs.  Due to decreased enrollment and COVID related costs, revenues were impacted and staff retention was paramount in order to re-open.  LADACIN’s Executive…
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Monmouth County’s First Virtual Youth Town Hall on Racial Justice Sparks a Conversation for Teens

FREEHOLD, NJ - Thought-provoking discussions about racial justice and inequity are taking place around the nation, and here in Monmouth County. Monmouth ACTS recently formed a racial equity ad hoc committee tasked with defining how each of its working groups, or Hubs, look at racial equity in the human services provided to Monmouth County residents. Case in point: the Positive Youth Development (PYD) Hub tackled the difficult conversation, and how they could specifically address issues of racial justice for their population of young children. These discussions sparked an idea to host a youth-led, youth-run virtual town hall event for young…
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RAINE Foundation Hosts Diaper Drive to Support Moms and Children in Need During COVID-19 Pandemic

Hiral Patel and Alicia Maresco of Bayshore Family Success Center in Middletown accept donations of diapers and wipes for Monmouth County mothers in need from Lisa Auletta of the RAINE Foundation. FREEHOLD, NJ – The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been varied and far-reaching – and distress is not always related to health concerns. Monmouth County Commissioner Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley recently learned of an unforeseen need amongst the County’s expectant and parenting mothers. On a call for Monmouth ACTS’ Early Childhood Success Hub, Kiley was surprised to learn from leaders of various service organizations that mothers…
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Behavioral Health Hub Extends Reach of Grant to Combat Opioid Crisis

FREEHOLD, NJ – As the opioid crisis rages across the country, services are strained more than ever due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But thanks to the connections of Monmouth ACTS (Assisting Community Through Services), one grant led to three new programs – and room to grow even further. When the Monmouth County Division of Behavioral Health was offered the chance to submit an innovative grant proposal to the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services addressing the opioid epidemic, Division Director Desiree Whyte knew the opportunity would be the perfect project to bring to Monmouth ACTS’ Behavioral…
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