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CASA, WellStar, Bright Horizons rebuild families in Children’s Haven
The Children’s Haven​ ribbon-cutting event.

WellStar Health System teamed up with CASA for Children Inc. and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children® to create a safe and warm home environment for foster children to rebuild family bonds. On Monday, Nov. 2, representatives from these organizations gat​​​hered with community partners for a ribbon cutting of the new Children’s Haven at 1083 Marietta Highway in Canton.

“It’s incredible to have the opportunity to create a place where children and families in Cherokee can begin to build a life well lived together,” said Karen Mathews, WellStar director of WorkLife services and Cherokee Chamber of Commerce board member. “WellStar is about enriching the lives of our community. This center will have a tangible impact on families in Cherokee.”

The Children’s Haven was created to give foster kids the opportunity to succeed by bringing a variety of support programs under one roof. The not-for-profit evolved from the organization originally known as CASA for Children, Inc. The new Children’s Haven name better encompasses all of the services provided for foster children.

“One of our visions was to create a more appropriate visitation environment for supervised parental visits with foster children,” said Deidre Hollands, executive director of The Children’s Haven. “There was no safe and secure place for visits. They were happening in fast food restaurants – what do you do with a 3-year-old for two hours in that type of environment?”

The new WellStar Family Visitation Center at the Children’s Haven is a warm, homey environment including a full working kitchen, dining room and living room full of child-appropriate toys and centers. The space allows children to feel more comfortable while spending time with their parents. Designed for family bonding, the room is equipped with closed circuit cameras and security systems to keep children safe.

“Because of WellStar and Bright Horizons, we were able to make the Visitation Center very much like a home,” said Hollands.

Bright Horizons is the vendor that manages WellStar’s onsite childcare and backup care programs for team members. The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children creates “Bright Spaces®” for kids that may not have exposure to other positive environments. Bright Horizons joined WellStar to design the Visitation Center at the Children’s Haven.

Other services at The Children’s Haven include CASA, Rainbows Grief Support Groups and Teach One to Lead One Mentoring.

Of the many services offered at The Children’s Haven, CASA continues to focus on child advocacy so that no child lingers in the foster care system without the security of a safe, nurturing and permanent family. The volunteer advocates review records and talk to everyone involved in the child’s life to determine what is in the child’s best interest.

Rainbows Grief Counseling is a compassionate guidance program that helps children work through grief and the trauma that comes as a result from abuse or separation from loved ones. The program offers children coping tools, builds their self-esteem and helps children grieve appropriately.

Teach One to Lead One Mentoring develops young people into leaders to help turn them away from destructive choices and focus on positive habits.

Some local foster children recently put the new space to the test.

“A little boy sat at the tiny table with the play food,” said Hollands. “He started cutting his chicken and spaghetti on the plate. He was so excited! Every child who sees it, their eyes just light up.”

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