BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A federal grant will provide additional funding for a Brevard County nonprofit as it aims to help youth and their families cope with emotional problems and mental illness.

What You Need To Know

  • Brevard Family Partnership, county team up to seek federal funding

  • The grant will go to support youth with severe emotional and mental illness

  • Families to receive individualized treatment, grant writer says

Among those receiving assistance is Wanda Houser, whose life is centered around caring for her 7-year-old grandson, Michael.

"I was almost to the point of institutionalizing him," Houser said. "Because I just couldn't cope anymore."

Michael is what is called 'intellectually delayed, and he has behavioral issues. He also is bipolar — and has severe hearing problems.

"I have no idea how you encounter something like that and move forward with it," Houser said. "That's why I needed help so badly."

Help came in the form of Brevard Family Partnership, which provides Michael with a weekly counselor visit to pass along life skills and other guidance.

"We hear stories like Wanda and Michael, and how many more are out there," Brevard Family Partnership Chief Executive Officer Phil Scarpelli said. "It's our drive, it's our mission, it's our passion to help them."

BFP wants to help even more. So it teamed up with Brevard County to create the Brevard Behavioral Health Expansion Project.

Money awarded from a $4 million federal grant provided through the CARES Act will go to support youth with severe emotional and mental illness.

"It's very individualized, that's what is so wonderful about it," according to BFP's Tracy Pelligrino, who wrote the grant application.

The project will benefit 100 children a year, and 400 total over the next four years, she said.

"We can continually strengthen our system of care, so we can help other families and learn as we go," Pelligrino said.

Houser said she hopes families reach out to BPF because it has drastically improved her life and Michael’s. 

 "Life is good. It's getting much better," Houser said. "We are on the road to recovery."