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The Children's Center to Raise Child Mental Health Awareness With Free Virtual Gala

The Children's Center

The isolation and restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic have shined the light on mental health challenges faced by many young children across Utah. One center is funding its efforts to address the issue with a free virtual gala featuring actor Zachary Levi and auctions. 


The Children's Center, based in Salt Lake City, treats trauma and attachment issues in young children, and its Shine Gala takes place from 6 to 7 p.m. on June 4. They provide a broad range of mental health services to enhance the emotional well-being of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families. Due to COVID-19, their yearly fundraiser is virtual. 


Visit The Children's Center's website to register for the gala and the auctions.


The President and CEO of The Children's Center, Rebecca Dutson, suggested the pandemic may have a silver lining after all.


"The things that COVID has helped us do is talk about mental health even more because everybody has been impacted by it,” she said. “And our, our children, of course, are more vulnerable. And, you know, cannot represent themselves and so, you know, they're often marginalized, and I just think that people have become more aware of mental health and the importance of it. And that's why we just continue to work on raising awareness of early childhood mental health."     


Young children with untreated mental illness are more likely to not finish high school and have hire rates of incarceration. Dutson said The Children’s Center bills Medicaid and private insurance and have some state contracts that assist them with their work.


Community Relations and Volunteer Manager Leslie Durham said in an email that the Centers for Disease Control estimates that one year of child maltreatment, including all forms of abuse and neglect, costs $210,000 per person over a lifetime.


According to Durham, the CDC research shows early intervention improves children's current and future health and reduces future use of services and treatment. She said there is a link between unmet mental health needs in a child's earliest years and their life outcomes. National cost estimates of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among youth amount to $247 billion per year in health services, lost productivity and crime.


To continue providing services to every child, Dutson said they must raise money through various means. 


"So, this year, our gala is virtual so that you can jump on. I mean, we've got people kind of joining us from all over. We've got a celebrity coming, Zachary Levi, who, you know, played in Shazam and Tangled and Tuck. So, it's just fun, and it's an hour."


KPCW news reports on issues affecting young children and their parents are brought to you by the Park City Community Foundation’s Early Childhood Fund. For more information, visitearlychildhoodalliance.net.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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