In early 2020, Seven Counties Services’ Child and Family West Clinic recognized that some of the children they served in Louisville’s West End community were unable to attend traditional after-school and summer care programs because these programs cannot accept students with severe emotional and behavioral issues.
That’s where the C.E. and S. Foundation and Brown-Forman Foundation stepped in with the funding to launch what is today called the “Peaceful Pals” program.
“The children actually came up with the name for the program themselves,” said Laurie Qualah, who runs the Child and Family West Clinic. “We do expressive therapy as a group exercise, and from that, the children came up with the name ‘Peaceful Pals.’”
The program was beginning just as COVID-19 caused schools to shut down across Jefferson County, so Qualah and her staff had to regroup and figure out how to conduct the program virtually. Not only was their plan successful, but they expanded it to include help for children struggling with non-traditional instruction (NTI).
In the nine months since launching the program, Qualah is happy to report great successes.
“We don’t have any children who are failing any subjects right now,” she said. “And we’re seeing a steady decline in behavioral and emotional issues. So far, we’ve graduated 15 students back to traditional after-school programs.”
Qualah enjoys hearing from parents who are grateful to have this resource available to them and is looking forward to helping more children now that JCPS schools are beginning in-person learning again.
“I really can’t thank the C.E. and S. Foundation and Brown-Forman Foundation enough,” she said. “They’re really making a difference in the lives of so many children in this area who, otherwise, would have fallen through the cracks.”