The Center for Child and Family Services opened in 1943 in response to the wartime need for professional counseling services for disrupted families. In 1947, the agency began providing family counseling services on a Peninsula-wide basis, which is a continued practice today. Now in its 80th year, it recently moved its offices from Hampton to Oyster Point. Its new doors are open to whoever may need its assistance.
This nonprofit community service organization provides quality counseling and support services. “We offer more than 20 programs, including behavioral mental health counseling, financial counseling and individual counseling for adults, children, couples and families,” says Darla Timberlake, clinical director and vice president of behavioral health. “We work with programs that include court-work orders and domestic violence perpetrators. We have an amazing program, working with those involved in prostitution or shoplifting, and we have infantile specialists who work with daycare, schools and family homes.”
Timberlake continues, “We have a grant that specifically allows us to help with youth and gun violence, and we work on job readiness for those with a criminal background. We offer consumer credit counseling, we help those with substance abuse, we assist with supervised visitation for parents who need supervision and we offer counseling and support groups to work with those serving in the military and veterans who may be suicidal.”
With a plethora of programs available in English and some in Spanish, the center is open to anyone seeking assistance, including clients referred by a community agency. While some programs can be paid for with insurance, the center also has several cost-free programs, thanks to grant funding.
Timberlake has been working with the center for more than 12 years after being hired as an intern in 2010. “This is my encore career. First, I was a dental hygienist, but I went back to graduate school for my master’s degree and totally changed careers at the age of 50,” she says with a smile. “The best part of my job is the difference we are making, working with interns and residents and seeing them come into their own as they gain confidence. There’s no better place for them to learn; we do cutting-edge work here. And seeing the healing is so special. I don’t hear people’s problems all day; I hear hope. We’re doing deep trauma work, and it allows us to see people become healthier community members.”
There’s no typical day among the 33 full-time employees, interns and residents at this nonprofit center.
“I personally try to start the day with meditation or mindfulness, but I also run ‘Mindfulness Monday Mornings’ for our team,” Timberlake says. “I’m a huge advocate for self-care and recharging one’s battery. I’ve been clinical director for two years now, so I am also involved with the domestic violence group once a week.”
The center’s team also works on their cohesion as a group. “We have a huge team dynamic; we are really family-focused. We get together for every activity. We have staff outings for lunch, we go to museums, and we try to celebrate every holiday or life event. We support and nurture one another,” Timberlake says. “Our staff is dedicated, and I think it comes from our support of each other. I also run a dream manager program to help the staff achieve their dreams. We identify any barriers and discuss values. We really invest in our employees.”
The center has programs to help people get in touch with the services they need,” Timberlake says. “One of these programs is called Thrive. It is for children who have witnessed any abuse or crime or adults who had sexual abuse in their childhood. And this service provides 20 free counseling sessions for them.”
When Timberlake isn’t working or giving community presentations about local resources, she enjoys spending time with her husband, kayaking, biking, traveling the U.S. in an RV and visiting her three grown sons.