FLINT, MI — Priority Children received a $22,662 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint Wednesday, June 18, to support families who have had children removed from their home because of abuse or neglect.

The grant, consisting of contributions from the Mary Louise and John Sarvis Fund, the Community Impact Fund and the Phillip J. and Sally J. Braun Fund for Mental Health, supports the Priority Children's Baby Court program.

"Baby Court works with the most vulnerable families in the community, which have had children removed from their homes," said Crystal Pepperdine, Priority Children manager of development and communications. "Oftentimes, parents have not received guidance or advice on how to be a good parent, so we have individual health specialists and other therapists to help parents get to the point where a child can be reunited with at least one biological parent."

Families in the program meet monthly with their case worker and other health professionals to receive guidance before going to a judge to document their progress. 

"This is a unique model compared to traditional services where you may only see a judge once every three months and not get any treatment to help accomplish those goals of reuniting with your child," Pepperdine said. "Experts say a loving, stable home is the best place for a child to be, so whether a parent has had problems with substance abuse, a mental disorder or health issue, you don't want to shut them down and say they don't have a chance to turn their life around and make it right."

President and Executive Director Amy Krug said 75 percent of infants in the Baby Court program have been reunified with a biological parent since its opening in 2009 — a mark much greater than the national average of 26 percent.

"Although it is extraordinarily sad when a child has to be removed from their home, Baby Court shines a beacon of hope for parents who might be struggling with substance abuse problems, chronic unemployment, undiagnosed mental health disorders or other issues, and who need some assistance and guidance to create a healthy and safe physical, mental and emotional environment for themselves and their children."