Spreading Good Fortune
Family law attorney Reid Sherard puts early childhood intervention first
Published in 2020 South Carolina Super Lawyers magazine
By Kinsey Gidick on April 27, 2020
For Reid Sherard, “to whom much is given, much is expected” isn’t just a cross-stitch cliché; it’s a way of life.
It was fostered by his parents in their Greenville home, and he continues it as a board member of A Child’s Haven, a Greenville behavioral health nonprofit dedicated to helping children who have suffered developmental delays due to limited resources, neglect or abuse.
“I am very cognizant of the advantages I have had in my life,” Sherard says. “I never wanted for anything. But for so, so, so many people, that is not true.”
Such is the case for the families and roughly 60 kids who seek help at A Child’s Haven, which assists children up to 6 years old who are in danger of falling behind without early intervention. “The focus is to triage the situation at the first warning sign and keep it from getting worse,” Sherard says. Ultimately, the goal is to get them school-ready. “The people in the classroom are mental health professionals. They are monitoring the children’s behavior in addition to helping them learn and correcting behaviors appropriately.”
The program also provides support and education for the kids’ families. “One of the main reasons we think the program is effective is it’s not just that the children come to our facility. We go to their residences and meet with their families,” Sherard says.
It’s a program he’s come to feel passionate about. In 2018, Sherard’s commitment to community service earned him a ChangeMaker honor from the Jefferson Awards Foundation. But Sherard might not have ever heard of the organization if not for former Gov. Richard Riley, a lifelong family friend and law partner at Nelson Mullins. Riley, who was Secretary of Education under President Clinton, introduced Sherard to the nonprofit and served as a role model.
So when A Child’s Haven asked Sherard if he’d serve on its board, naturally he said yes.
The magnitude of his new obligation didn’t hit home until Sherard’s first child was born a few months after joining the board. That’s when the stark contrast of his newborn’s life and the lives of the program’s enrollees came into sharp focus. “It was a realization of what it means to be born into a stable household with two parents who are not just capable of providing for every need, but devoted to it,” he says. “How fortunate my child, now children, are to begin their lives in that kind of environment, when many are not.”
A Child’s Haven tries to help kids who live below the poverty line; who have experienced challenges in their homes; who have been kicked out of daycare programs due to behavioral issues; whose parents didn’t have anyone else to call for support. A critical part of A Child’s Haven is that it requires all parents to agree to home observations, therapy and education courses.
“Over the years, Reid’s passion and commitment to children and his community has driven him to be instrumental in the many successes that our organization has achieved,” says Tanya Camunas, the program’s executive director. “Reid’s leadership has led A Child’s Haven to become recognized as an innovative program and thought leader in the sphere of early childhood mental health, and a promising solution to addressing multi-generational issues faced by Greenville’s most vulnerable at-risk families.”
Due to confidentiality concerns, Sherard cannot speak to specific cases. However, he says his skills as a family attorney made him uniquely equipped for the job. When clients seek Sherard, it’s often at an impasse—the end of a marriage with myriad issues to address, be it custody or the division of assets. Clients are looking for someone to help navigate the realities of family court and provide a voice of reason during a troubled time. Addressing the complicated challenges of children who have suffered trauma requires similar sensitivity.
The humble attorney would never say it about himself, but who better to advocate on behalf of the least of these? Since 2011, 6,200 caregiver and child enrollees have benefited from A Child’s Haven. But for the family law attorney, this isn’t pro bono, it’s missio. He says, “I feel a calling to do what I can to try to help those children who have so far not been as fortunate as I have been.”
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