Citing the urgent need for expanded access to mental and behavioral health care for at-risk children in our community, the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) announced that it will target Children’s Mental Health for its annual Fund a Need initiative at the 2019 Naples Winter Wine Festival.

Founded by NCEF, the Naples Winter Wine Festival enters its 19th year in 2019 and ranks as the most successful international charity wine auction in the world raising more than $176 million for children’s causes. At the 2019 Festival, guests  will have a chance to show their support through a live auction on January 26th, while those unable to attend the event will be able to donate online starting January 20th.

“Mental health issues cut across all families, all communities,” said Paul Hills, NCEF Grant Committee Chair. “This year’s Fund a Need initiative will support early identification, expert diagnosis, and effective treatment of childhood psychiatric and learning disorders needed in our community along with taking away the stigma for children and their families and empowering them with help, hope and answers.”

Research shows that one in 10 young people will struggle with a mental health issue before the age of 10, regardless of race and income, and that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14. Furthermore, it is estimated that two to three children in every American classroom suffers from some type of social/emotional condition, the vast majority of whom never receive professional care. NCEF annually identifies a high-need area in Collier County as its Fund a Need priority and asks its supporters to help fill those gaps through contributions.

The 2018 Fund a Need initiative brought in more than $2.3 million for childhood hunger and expanded oral health care, ensuring more at-risk children will have access to nutritious food and proper oral health care. Here’s specifically how individual contributions can make a difference:

 $100,000 provides a bilingual psychologist to provide ongoing mental health services in-school and in healthcare clinics;
 $50,000 funds a school liaison staff member to help children with mental health needs cope in a school setting;
 $25,000 provides 1,190 pediatric patients an integrated intervention visit at the time of their primary care appointment;
 $10,000 provides mental health assessments for 80 children in need;
 $5,000 provides mental health educational programming for 300 at-risk teens;
 $1,000 provides social-emotional screenings – designed to identify children who may have or are at risk of having social
emotional and behavioral delays – for 20 children.

Mental Health is one of NCEF’s seven strategic, multipartner initiatives, which address children’s overall health needs
from head to toe. Dubbed “Beautiful Minds®,” the initiative aims to fundamentally transform and expand mental health care
for at-risk children by strengthening links among local health care providers, community mental health professionals, social
services and the public school system.

Under NCEF’s leadership, David Lawrence Center, Florida State University College of Medicine, Golisano Children’s
Hospital, Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida and National Alliance on Mental Illness have collaborated to reduce
and eliminate duplication of services, maximize resources, and increase the availability of high quality, best-practice
approaches. This innovative and ground-breaking coalition has created Collier County’s first integrated care system, an
organized coordination of primary and behavioral healthcare.

Among these collaborative efforts was a workshop in August at which experts on childhood trauma offered tips for helping
children struggling with toxic levels of stress by training adults who care for them. Toxic stress is the sustained exposure of
adverse childhood experiences without protective factors. This type of stress severely damages children’s cognitive, social and
behavioral development. NCEF also recently partnered with the Florida State University Center for Prevention & Early Intervention Policy on a “Think Tank” focusing on expanding trauma informed systems in Florida.

The session featured Dr. Vincent Felitti, one of the world’s foremost experts on childhood trauma and co-author of the “Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,” and included state leaders and policymakers as well as community leaders in
education, criminal justice, juvenile justice and health fields. “Integrating mental health and primary care services in a
culturally competent model produces the best outcomes and proves the most effective approach to caring for children with multiple healthcare needs,” said Maria Jimenez-Lara, chief executive officer of NCEF. “Diagnosing and treating problems early can make the biggest difference for children and for their families.”

Ticket packages to the 2019 Naples Winter Wine Festival are limited to 600 guests and start at $12,500 per couple. A $30,000
package, which includes reserved seating for a party of four at a Vintner Dinner and under the Festival tent, is also available. To inquire about tickets to the Festival, please contact Barrett Farmer at or 239-514-2239.

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