Christian Family Solutions Expands Mental Health Counseling...

Christian Family Solutions Expands Mental Health Counseling Services to Inner-City Milwaukee Students with $100,000 Grant from Bader Philanthropies

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June 10, 2020

The following press release was supplied by Bader Philanthropies Inc. We are truly grateful for their support of our work.

MILWAUKEE – (June 9, 2020) – Christian Family Solutions (CFS), a non-profit organization that provides professional mental health outpatient counseling, school-based counseling, and day treatment for students, today announced it is expanding services with a grant of $100,000 from Bader Philanthropies, Inc. CFS’ outpatient counseling and day treatment programs provide trauma-informed and culturally sensitive therapies to Milwaukee children at little to no cost to students and schools. CFS currently has outpatient counselors in 18 Milwaukee urban schools and also offers a higher level of care through its STRONG Day Treatment Program, the only program of its kind in the city.

CFS places mental health counselors in Milwaukee’s inner-city schools to offer the highest quality treatment and services to students in grades K-12. Offering this level of care on a school campus helps reduce the stigma associated with mental health treatment and is convenient for staff, parents, and students, who would otherwise not get the help they need. According to “Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Wisconsin’s Children” by Kids Forward, children of color, children without insurance, foreign-born children, and children who do not speak English face even greater barriers to treatment, and often receive fewer and poorer services. Most of the families CFS serves would not utilize mental health services, even if they were available, unless they are conveniently offered at the school. These services have a ripple-effect in the community with the potential to impact thousands, since they benefit not only the children, but also their parents or guardians, siblings, teachers, classmates, and the greater community.

The grant is allowing CFS to place five additional outpatient counselors in urban schools, and support staffing of its STRONG (Successfully Treating and Reaching Our Next Generation) Day Treatment Program, which provides intensive outpatient therapy to students with more significant challenges, and operates at the north campus of St. Marcus Lutheran School. This program serves children who display symptoms of anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, attention deficit, and other mental health conditions, and are in danger of academic expulsion. The STRONG Day Treatment Program helps youth heal through behavioral interventions, so they can become more stable and academically successful. 

The grant from Bader Philanthropies allows us to continue expanding this effective program, train more counselors, and serve more youth at additional schools,” said Mark Klug, chief executive officer of Christian Family Solutions. “We know it is of utmost importance that we maintain our school counseling and STRONG programs because in some cases we are these students’ last hope for treating trauma in their lives and remaining in school. The expansion of services will help us continue to address students' underlying issues and help them become better students and contributing members of their community. We have already started to place these new counselors and we’re thankful to Bader Philanthropies for providing this grant, especially at a critical time when our community needs us the most.”

CFS’ mental health counseling services are more critical now than ever in Milwaukee as other treatment providers are eliminating their treatment programs for youth, no longer taking new referrals, or closing their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, at the beginning of the pandemic, CFS’ School-Based Counseling and STRONG Day Treatment Programs were transitioned to telehealth services. This allowed CFS to remain in contact with the students they serve, as well as teachers and school staff. They continue to offer the same services, just provided remotely.

A positive development as a result of the COVID-19 situation is CFS was able to stay in touch with many of the students and increase interaction with their families using telehealth. The STRONG program reopened June 1 for in-person day treatment and CFS will continue to offer services in summer. If schools remain closed and CFS needs to continue services through telehealth in the fall, it anticipates being able to serve the same number of students, if not more, because of its telehealth structure. CFS plans to serve 600 or more students during the 2020-2021 school year. CFS currently has a waiting list of schools that have requested its services, and it expects those requests to grow as students get back to their classrooms in the fall and mental health disorders become apparent.

Students in Wisconsin have the second-highest rate of severe major depressive episodes in the country, and the teen suicide rate in Wisconsin is higher than the national average according to Mental Health America. However, the majority of young people with mental health disorders do not receive the help they need. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction estimates 80 percent of students in need don't receive professional help. The consequences of untreated mental health issues are often life-long. “Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Wisconsin’s Children” says unaddressed mental health problems in school can lead to suspensions and expulsions that limit educational opportunities and achievement. CFS’ goals include reaching students sooner and being able to intervene with the appropriate level of service before behavior becomes problematic or the student is expelled. 

“CFS provides young people an opportunity to process their emotions in constructive ways, especially during a time when routines are being redefined,” said Daniel J. Bader, president and CEO of Bader Philanthropies. “The type of counseling and treatment services that CFS offers are essential to ensure students succeed in the classroom and the Milwaukee community has the mental agility to move forward in our shared COVID-19 pandemic experience.”

Since 2008, CFS has assisted more than 3,500 students and provided more than 30,000 outpatient counseling sessions with students and their families. Now in its third year of operation, the STRONG day treatment program has provided services to more than 200 students.

CFS is currently providing outpatient services on-site at 18 different urban schools in Milwaukee. Each of the locations have been certified by the State of Wisconsin as a school branch outpatient clinic. This designation allows CFS to serve children in the schools and also family members who are struggling in underserved areas of Milwaukee.

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