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SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. to dedicate funds from Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest to children’s behavioral health

2015 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest logo

One in ten children struggle with a mental health condition before the age of 10. Locally and across the country, there is a lack of resources for children in need of mental health care and this year, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. is dedicating its fund-a-cause dollars to the pediatric behavioral health initiative at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida to help give children in our region access to quality mental health care services.

“It’s no longer a taboo subject. Children’s behavioral and mental health care is complex, and it’s heartbreaking for the children and families who are suffering. This need is underserved and has reached a crisis point,” said Christin Collins, co-chair, Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. “Mental health care MUST become a priority for children in our community. The mission of the SWFL Children’s Charities is to advance health care services available to children in our region, and we have a huge responsibility to lead the way for improving access to care for children and families who are suffering with mental illness in Southwest Florida.”

In Southwest Florida, an estimated 46,000 children currently or have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder. Reimbursement rates for behavioral and mental health make it difficult for healthcare providers to meet the current and growing demands for services. More than two-thirds of the pediatric patient population in Southwest Florida is Medicaid and low income.

“The pediatric behavioral health initiative at Golisano Children’s Hospital is building a foundation for excellence in care for the mental health needs for the children and families of our area, and the support of SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. will bring tremendous resources to boost our efforts,” said Dr. Denise Dutchak-Parmenter, Golisano Children’s Hospital. “Mental illness crosses all boundaries and affects every aspect of a child’s functioning whether it’s a complex medical condition, their school performance or their family and friends. Our goal is to allow patients to access a multi-layered approach through individual group and family therapies, coordination with schools and their primary care doctors to promote the patient’s best and optimal functioning now and for their lifetime. As our patient population grows, we anticipate the addition of providers and services dedicated to the advancement of mental health care in our community.”

The pediatric behavioral health initiative at Golisano Children’s Hospital is dedicated to treating the wide spectrum of behavioral and mental health needs, including psychiatric diagnoses that may include ADHD, anxiety and mood disorders, autism and psychosis.

“Philanthropy will be the only way organizations like Golisano Children’s Hospital will be able to create and sustain programs and services to support the needs of children in our community with behavior and mental disorders,” added Collins. “Donations to the auction’s fund-a-cause will support the establishment of this region’s first comprehensive behavioral and mental health counseling program, as well as patient and family navigation programs.”

The two-day Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest includes private Chef Vintner Dinners on Friday, Feb. 24, and The Grand Tasting and Live Auction on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.

SWFL Children’s Charities Inc.’s annual signature fundraiser, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, has raised $16 million over the past eight years, making it the most successful fundraising event in Lee County and one of the top-grossing wine fests in the country. The nonprofit, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. donates 100 percent of the event proceeds to three local beneficiaries. Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is the primary beneficiary of the event, and the money raised helps to fund the building of the new family-centered children’s hospital that will provide new and expanded medical services and subspecialty services to children from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. In addition to providing funds for the new state-of-the-art Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. grants funds to Florida SouthWestern State College and Florida Gulf Coast University to provide scholarships and equipment to educate the community’s next generation of pediatric health care professionals. For more information, visit www.swflwinefest.org.

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