Why Mental Health is Key to a Child’s Overall Health and Wellbeing

Editor’s note: The following guest column was written by Delaware Education Secretary Mark Holodick and Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) Secretary Josette Manning.


As parents or guardians, we tend to react quickly when our children’s physical health is in question. If children show physical symptoms, get injured, or express they don’t feel right, we immediately ask questions and seek medical guidance and care. Parents and guardians are also pros at prevention — making sure children get vaccines and wellness exams and keeping an eye out for anything unusual that may indicate they are sick or hurt. That same level of attention and action for prevention and treatment is critical to supporting children’s mental health.

Many children will experience a mental health and/or substance use problem before age 18. In a survey of 80,000 youth around the world, 1 in 4 reported depressive symptoms and 1 in 5 experienced anxiety symptoms. Those rates are double what they were before the pandemic and we also know that more children have experienced trauma in response to COVID.  The good news is that there are things that caregivers can do to help promote children’s mental wellbeing.    Children thrive in the presence of thriving adults who support them in co-regulation and processing their emotions.  When a child has an emotionally healthy, caring adult in their life, it can help buffer against stress and help them to navigate experiences with resilience.  Anyone can be that adult for a child and make a real difference in their life.   How?  One of the easiest ways is for caregivers to talk with the children in their care—naturally, regularly, and intentionally as a part of daily life. Ask how they are feeling in general and about specific situations, like an upcoming social gathering or recent world event. These talks can take place in the car, standing in line, or at the dinner table.  Be an active listener and show interest in all aspects of their life and the things that matter to them.  And don’t hesitate to talk with them if you are concerned about their mental health and ask whether they are thinking about or planning suicide.  If you are concerned about a child in crisis, you should call the 24/7 Child Crisis Line, also known as Mobile Resource Stabilization Service, at 1-800-969-HELP (4357).

In addition to a caring adult, research shows that prevention and treatment programs do work and there are resources available to help children and their families through the Delaware Children’s Department Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) and the Department of Education (DOE) and local schools.

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) provides free summer prevention programs for children and teens that promote resilience, develop positive relationships with peers and adults and build life skills.  Families and community members can contact the division’s Prevention Helpline to learn about these services by calling (302) 633-2680, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., or by email at PBHS_Prevention_Inquiries@delaware.gov .  You can click here to see the current catalogue of programs: https://kidsfiles.delaware.gov/pdfs/pbh-summer-prevention-programs-2022.pdf. You can also visit DPBHS’ website to learn more about covered treatment services https://kids.delaware.gov/prevention-and-behavioral-health-services/information-for-families/.

Delaware schools support children through wellness promotion, monitoring for early warning signs,  and screening for risks. Students may access group and individualized supports for building social and emotional skills.  The state’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Wellbeing Plan provides infrastructure for this response system, integrating the innovations from Project DelAWARE – designed to reduce the stigma associated with mental health access – and Project THRIVE – which contracts directly with mental health provider organizations to offer trauma-specific interventions for ALL uninsured and under-insured  students, regardless of whether they attend public or private schools demonstration project funded by the US Department of Education. Both of these programs have increased mental health equity for children and youth across our state.  Students or parents and caregivers on their behalf can learn more by calling 211 or texting their zip code to 898-211.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announces Sportsmen Against Hunger program butcher shops and cooler locations accepting donated deer

Processed venison donated to charitable organizations

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today the private butcher shops and DNREC cooler locations that accept donated deer for the Sportsmen Against Hunger program during Delaware’s 2018/19 deer hunting season. Deer generously donated by successful deer hunters are processed into venison at no charge to the hunter, with the Division of Fish & Wildlife distributing the venison to charitable groups that provide meals for needy Delawareans.

Last year, DNREC’s Sportsmen Against Hunger program distributed 19,083 pounds of venison from 649 deer donated by hunters to approximately three dozen food pantries and shelters statewide, which provided 76,332 meals to Delawareans in need. Since it began in 1992, the program has provided more than two million such meals.

Successful hunters can take their deer directly to participating private butcher shops, or they may drop off their deer at any of DNREC’s walk-in coolers listed below.

Participating Butcher Shops

Sussex County

Dave’s Cut ‘Em Up
6854 Delmar Road
Delmar, DE 19940

Kent County

Miller’s Butcher Shop
577 Morgans Choice Road
Wyoming, DE 19934

D&J Custom Cutting
89 Myers Drive
Hartly, DE 19953

New Castle County

Townsend Deer Butchering
1300 Dexter Corner Road
Townsend, DE 19734

Cooler Locations to Donate Deer

Sussex County

Assawoman Wildlife Area
37604 Mulberry Landing Road
Frankford, DE 19945

Gumboro Community Center
36849 Millsboro Highway
Millsboro, DE 19966

Redden State Forest HQ
18074 Redden Forest Drive
Georgetown, DE 19947

Trap Pond State Park
33587 Bald Cypress Lane
Laurel, DE 19956

Kent County

Little Creek Wildlife Area
3018 Bayside Drive
Dover, DE 19901

Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area
782 Kersey Road
Viola, DE 19979

Mosquito Control Office
1161 Airport Road
Milford, DE 19963

New Castle County

Augustine Wildlife Area
303 North Congress Street
Port Penn, DE 19731

Venison Packages
Ground venison ready for delivery to families in need.

Hunters donating deer are asked to call the phone number posted on the walk-in coolers so that the deer can be transported for processing in a timely manner. Hunters are reminded that all deer dropped off at a cooler must be field-dressed and registered by the hunter, with the registration number written on the field tag attached to the deer. Coolers are checked frequently, with donated deer taken to participating private butcher shops or the Sussex Correctional Institution’s deer butchering program for processing.

All deer harvested in Delaware, including donated deer, must be registered through the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Hunter and Trapper Registration (HTR) system. Deer hunters are encouraged to access the system online using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Hunters who prefer to talk to a live customer service representative can call 855-DELHUNT (855-335-4868).

For more information on hunting in Delaware can be found at 2018-2019 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide. The guide also is available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk in the Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, and from license agents statewide.

For more information on the Sportsmen Against Hunger Program, please visit Sportsmen Against Hunger, or contact Bill Jones, regional wildlife manager, 302-284-4795. For deer hunting information, please contact Eric Ness, deer and furbearer biologist, at 302-735-3600.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

DHSS Adopt-A-Family Holiday Program Seeks Donors to Provide Gifts for Delaware Children, Families and Seniors in Need

NEW CASTLE (Nov. 16, 2017) – The Department of Health and Social Services’ Adopt-A-Family Holiday program is seeking donors to help make the holiday season a happier one for thousands of children, adults, people with disabilities and seniors in need in Delaware.

The Adopt-A-Family Holiday program anonymously matches donors to a senior, individual with a disability or a family with at least one child. In 2016, the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program, through the leadership of the Human Services Councils of New Castle County and Kent/Sussex counties, helped 1,927 Delawareans.

“It’s important those of us who have the ability to help others in need take the opportunity to do so, especially during this time of year,” said Gov. John Carney. “Donating through Adopt-A-Family’s Holiday program is a good way to make sure the needs of some of our fellow Delawareans are being met over the holidays.”

The deadline to “adopt” a family is Dec. 8, and all gift cards and gifts must be delivered to the Adopt-A-Family office by Dec. 15.

Adopt-A-Family provides the donor with the age and gender of each child in the family and a brief description of the circumstances that led to their need for assistance. The donor then provides gift cards for the head-of-household to use to purchase holiday gifts. The recommended minimum gift is $100 per child, with a gift card for the parent/guardian optional but thoughtful.

Those interested in adopting a senior or a person with a disability will be matched to an individual in need who is living in a nursing home or living alone receiving in-home care services. A wish list of things the individual enjoys, needs, or would appreciate, as well as clothing preferences and sizes, will be provided.

“Even as many Delawareans face their own struggles, they continue to show their generosity each year by giving to the Adopt-A-Family Holiday program and helping neighbors who find themselves in even more vulnerable positions,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary of DHSS. “I am heartened by the true spirit of giving witnessed through this program.”

Families who are adopted are contacted by Adopt-A-Family to pick up their gift cards from their respective Adopt-A-Family office. Eligible recipients are referred to Adopt-A-Family by a social worker or case manager through state agencies and human service nonprofit organizations.

“Each year we find that many of our neighbors in need are referred to Adopt-A-Family through our State Service Centers, and other organizations, because of serious medical conditions, behavioral health challenges, domestic violence, homelessness and unemployment,” said Renée P. Beaman, Director of DHSS’ Division of State Service Centers, which operates the program. “The stories of those in need are poignant, and I am hopeful that my fellow Delawareans will respond generously.”

These circumstances serve as a sampling of the hundreds of individuals and families available for adoption this season.

• Single veteran father and teenage son experienced homelessness this past year, but were recently placed into permanent housing. Father is seeking employment. His 15-year-old son is active in school and loves football. This family would appreciate any assistance to brighten up their holiday.

• Mother and four children lost their apartment earlier this year. After staying with friends and in shelters, the family is now living with the children’s paternal grandfather. Family lost most of their belongings. Mom is working three part-time jobs as well as taking classes to become a certified medical assistant with a goal to complete the program by next year.

• Family of seven, including a new baby. Husband is no longer in the home due to domestic violence. In addition to her children, the mother is caring for her elderly mother who has stage 4 cancer. Mother is seeking resources and assistance to ensure her children can enjoy the holiday season despite their hardships this year.

• Family of eight. Grandmother recently gained custody of six grandchildren. The parents are not active in the children’s lives. Grandmother cannot work because she is the only caretaker of the children. Her 18-year-old daughter is still in school and helping with younger children when possible. Grandmother is struggling to keep her grandchildren out of foster care.

To “adopt” an individual or family, please contact:

• New Castle County: New Castle County Adopt-A-Family at 302-792-6150 or email sharon.brown@delaware.gov. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Mail or drop off donations to this address: Adopt-A-Family, 3301 Green St., Claymont, DE 19703.

• Kent and Sussex counties: Kent and Sussex Adopt-A-Family at 302-424-7260 or email elizabeth.senato@delaware.gov. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Mail or drop off donations to this address: Adopt-A-Family, 13 SW Front St., Milford, DE 19963.

After shopping for the residents, items can be dropped off at Adopt-A-Family offices in New Castle County (3301 Green St., Claymont) or Kent and Sussex counties (13 SW Front St., Milford). Donors will be given a code when they are matched to include with the gift cards or items when they drop them off so the Adopt-A-Family knows who should receive the items.

If you need to arrange an alternate “time” for delivery, please feel free to ask the Adopt-A-Family Team as they are able to make accommodations when needed.

The Adopt-A-Family program aids families in crisis – those struggling with illness, homelessness, domestic violence, poverty or unemployment – throughout the year. The program began in 1973 by Marge Meyerman and is coordinated by the Division of State Service Centers in all three counties.

For more information about Adopt-A-Family, go to the website or contact your nearest state service center.


The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

DNREC’s DuPont Nature Center to hold Family Fish-n-Fun Day Aug. 6

SLAUGHTER BEACH – The DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve, a DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife facility, will hold its Family Fish-n-Fun Day from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Slaughter Beach Pavilion, 359 Bay Avenue, Milford, DE 19963. Admission to the program is free, but space is limited, so please preregister by calling the center at 302-422-1329 or emailing lynne.pusey@delaware.gov.

Meeting at the pavilion, located behind the Slaughter Beach fire hall, participants will learn about the saltwater ecosystem, how to identify fish, fish anatomy, ethical fishing skills, knot-tying, casting, baiting hooks and surf fishing through hands-on activities with nature center staff and volunteers. Fishing gear and other materials will be provided. Participants should pack a lunch, snacks and beverages (no glass containers), sunscreen and insect repellant, and wear outdoor clothing, including beach-appropriate shoes and a hat.

A Delaware recreational fishing license is required for Fish-n-Fun participants age 16 and older; a fishing license is not required for those younger than 16 and for Delaware residents age 65 and older. Delaware fishing licenses are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. To find a participating agent or to purchase a license online, visit Delaware Licenses. For additional information on Delaware fishing licenses, call 302-739-9918, or click on 2016 Delaware Fishing Guide. The guide also is available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk and from license agents throughout the state.

Both resident and non-resident anglers age 16 and older are required to obtain a Delaware Fisherman Information Network (F.I.N.) number. The free number is included as part of a Delaware fishing license purchase. License-exempt anglers, including Delaware residents 65 and older, may visit www.delaware-fin.com or call 800-432-9228 toll-free to obtain their free F.I.N. number.

Perched on the edge of Mispillion Harbor at the intersection of the mouths of the Mispillion River and Cedar Creek, the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s DuPont Nature Center regularly offers a variety of interactive exhibits, school tours and educational programs. Spring and summer hours from May 1 through Aug. 31 are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. September hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. The center will close for the season at the end of the day Friday, Sept. 30, reopening in April 2017. The center is located at 2992 Lighthouse Road, east of Milford, DE 19963. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information about the DuPont Nature Center and its programs, please call 302-422-1329, or visit DuPont Nature Center.

The DuPont Nature Center is a focal point of the Delaware Bayshore, and is part of DNREC’s Delaware Bayshore Initiative, a landscape approach to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat, increase volunteer participation in habitat stewardship projects, enhance low-impact outdoor recreation and ecotourism opportunities, and promote associated environmentally compatible economic development. For more information, click Delaware Bayshore.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 286

DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation holds second annual Delaware Capital Campout at three state parks

Dramatic increase in number of participants from first event held year ago

WILMINGTON – Governor Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary David Small and Deputy Secretary Kara Coats, and Delaware State Parks Director Ray Bivens welcomed more than 100 first-time campers to the second annual Delaware Capital Campout being held simultaneously at Bellevue State Park, Killens Pond State Park and Cape Henlopen State Park. The two-day, free-of-charge campout introduces young people and their families to the benefits and fun of being outside.

“This two-day campout offers new ways to enjoy Delaware’s great outdoors,” Gov. Markell said. “Our goal is to encourage appreciation of the environment and get families into nature. During this campout, children and their families can learn how to fish, set up a tent, and observe wildlife – just some of the benefits and fun for visitors to the state parks that are rated the best in the nation.”

Over two days, young people and their families will participate in all kinds of activities from learning how to set up a tent and build a campfire, to hiking, fishing and canoeing. Three state parks are serving as “host partners” for the event, which is sponsored by Coleman and the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware. Walmart and Chick-fil-A are contributing food to the events.

“The Capital Campout has been a huge success,” said DNREC Secretary Small. “The number of new campers has increased dramatically, from 27 participants last year to 108 this year, so we were delighted to expand the program from one park to three. This is a great way for children and families to explore outdoor recreation opportunities, to have fun and learn about nature. Enjoying our parks, trails and other amenities can help people stay active and healthy and create an appreciation for special outdoor places to help new generations be wise stewards of our natural resources.”

The Delaware Capital Campout is part of a national effort to get young people and their families, who may not usually experience the outdoors, outside and enjoying the activities parks have to offer. The campouts are part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout.

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 230