United Way of Martin County Awards $30,000 to Tykes & Teens – Funding to support agency’s Youth Enrichment Services and Social Communicative Competency Program

Home > United Way of Martin County Awards $30,000 to Tykes & Teens – Funding to support agency’s Youth Enrichment Services and Social Communicative Competency Program


United Way of Martin County Board Member and Chair Elect Martin County Supervisor of Elections Office Kherri Anderson; Tykes & Teens Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern Kevin Lane, M.S., NCC; Tykes & Teens Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Agnieszka W. Marshall, Psy.D., CAP; Tykes & Teens Director of Outpatient Services Dr. Alethia DuPont, Psy. D.; Tykes & Teens CEO Eric Garza, MHA, LCSW; United Way of Martin County President/CEO Carol Houwaart-Diez
(photo credit:  Chaplain L C Campbell Jr with Treasure Coast Seawinds Funeral Home and Crematory)

PALM CITY, Fla. (August 4, 2021) – The United Way of Martin County has awarded $30,000 to Tykes & Teens, a leading provider of the highest quality, evidence-based mental health services and programs for children and adolescents for 25 years.  The funding includes $20,000 to support the agency’s Youth Enrichment Services and $10,000 to support the agency’s Social Communicative Competency Program.

“The United Way of Martin County has been a valued Tykes & Teens partner for 13 years and we are very grateful for their continued support in prioritizing children’s mental health,” said Tykes & Teens CEO Eric Garza, MHA, LCSW.  “As the number of youth struggling with social interactions and those on the autism spectrum continuing to rise, there is a great need for our social-cognitive skills building groups that help children on the spectrum and those with social skills deficits to better succeed at school and in the community.”

“Living through the pandemic has been hard for everyone, but it has been especially difficult for those who face unique challenges,” said United Way of Martin County President/CEO Carol Houwaart-Diez.  “More than ever, it’s critical that essential mental health services like those provided by Tykes & Teens be available for youth who are struggling.”

Tykes & Teens’ Social Communicative Competency Program provides social-cognitive skills building groups for elementary, middle and high school-age youth who struggle to achieve successful social interactions and those on the autism spectrum.  Building social skills at a young age can prevent a lifetime of difficulties, including bullying, low self-esteem, difficulties in relationships, difficulties in work settings, and more.  This Tykes & Teens’ program is designed to help children and teens strengthen skills, including active listening, perspective taking, self-awareness, conversation initiation and appropriate use of humor.  The program provides fun and dynamic interventions during 14-session social-cognitive skills building groups based on Social Thinking® concepts, designed to target and remediate underlying social-cognitive deficits that lead to difficulties navigating the social world using evidence-based practices.  The therapist to client ratio rarely exceeds 1:5.

Tykes & Teens’ Youth Enrichment Services (YES) Program provides individual, family and group services for at-risk children and adolescents to prevent substance use and to eliminate use by adolescents who have already used substances.  The program also provides individual and group therapy for youth who struggle with emotional regulation and suicidality.

The YES Program includes a number of intervention components:

  • STARS (Strengthening Teens in Acquiring Resiliency for Success) – STARS gives local pre-teens and adolescents who are struggling with alcohol, drugs or other dangerous behaviors the chance to make positive long-term change. Each youth participates in a two-phase 24-week program, including group sessions, individual/family sessions and a six-session twice-monthly parent group. STARS uses evidence-based curriculum to help youth identify underlying reasons for their substance use and alternative coping strategies. Individual/family sessions seek to eliminate risk factors within the family system, as well as address co-occurring disorders.  The parent support group focuses on providing support to parents, providing them with psycho-education on teen development, including changes in the teenage brain that explain some of the youth’s behaviors, effective strategies for parenting teenagers, and education regarding drug facts and current trends with specific signs and substances of which to be aware.
  • DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) – Tykes & Teens’ DBT therapy helps middle and high school students learn to control emotions, manage conflict, resolve family issues and tolerate things not going the way the youth intended. The program is for youth who struggle with emotional dysregulation, including self-injurious behavior such as cutting, burning and suicidality.  DBT is an evidence-based program which assists youth in developing skills to manage strong emotions in the healthiest way possible. DBT was originated in order to assist those who were chronically suicidal. Youth learn that they can be themselves and feel strong emotions without necessarily acting on them. Two major components clients learn during DBT are acceptance and change skills, which help them manage difficult emotions and decrease conflict. Youth must first learn to accept themselves and then learn ways to change their emotional responses in order to best succeed in life.
  • In addition to these groups, Tykes & Teens provides a Parent Support Group which gives parents psycho-education regarding normative teen development, emotional regulation (for their teens as well as themselves), healthy communication, boundary setting, relationship strengthening and substance abuse knowledge.
  • LGBTQ Support and Social Group called PLUS – Tykes & Teen also offers a support and social group for LGBTQ teens called People Loving and Uniting Safely.

For more information, visit Tykes & Teens’ Youth Enrichment Services or call 772-220-3439.

To learn more about how you can support children’s mental health in our community, visit www.tykesandteens.org/give-help/ or donate now.

About Tykes & Teens

Tykes & Teens has been a leading mental health provider for children and adolescent evidence-based programs and services for 25 years.  Our passion and commitment are to empowering children and strengthening families by ensuring that all children have access to high quality counseling and mental health services, regardless of financial status.  Our mission is prioritizing children’s mental health in our families, schools and communities through a wide range of prevention, education, and treatment programs and services.  We also advocate for increased awareness of mental health to remove the stigma and shame often associated with seeking mental health treatment.  Since our inception, we have provided affordable quality mental health services for more than 60,000 children in need across the Treasure Coast from more than 50 service locations, including outpatient offices in Palm City, Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound, Port St. Lucie, and Vero Beach, on-site services in all Martin County schools, and in schools in Okeechobee and Indian River counties, as well as collaboration with numerous community partners, in addition to virtual telehealth services.  We have continued to offer our services and programs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including virtual telehealth care.  We accept most insurance, private payments, and we are a Medicaid-approved provider. We have successfully administered a sliding fee scale for those in need when necessary for more than 20 years.  As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency, we also provide $750,000 in unreimbursed services to the communities we serve each year.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Outpatient Services Tykes and Teens
Need Immediate Support
Confidential, expert, caring help
Skip to content