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Thank you to everyone who supported DGS in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community! It was a great team effort and we are so thankful to our employees, friends, families, four-legged friends, donors, Board of Directors, Ambassador Counsel members, and our sponsor, Enterprise. Of course, we also thank Highmark for hosting the walk so that every bit of the $5,000 we raised will go directly to help at-risk children and youth in Delaware get high quality mental health treatment. We had a total of 136 participants and, again, we are so thankful to all of you for walking either with us or virtually!
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Fall 2015 Newsletter
Spring 2015 Newsletter
DGS is a grateful beneficiary of Whole Foods' Nickels for Non-Profit Program! This means that for every reusable bag shoppers bring in for their groceries, Whole Foods will donate 5 cents to DGS at checkout.
Please shop at Whole Foods with your reusable bags often-every donation helps the children and young people in our care.
This opportunity applies to the Glen Mills Whole Foods location only and until April 10.
Three trailblazing Delaware Guidance Services clinicians are filling a critical gap in mental health services for the children and youth in New Castle County who are at the greatest risk of hurting themselves or others.
The Collaborative, Acceptable Relationships and Engaged Systems Program (CARES) is a new short-term, intensive transitional program for children being discharged from a behavioral health hospital or residential treatment center. Funds for this program, which is now working as part of the DGS Child Priority Response Service (CPRS) program under the direction of New Castle County CPRS Coordinator Ray Shamus, are provided through the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) by a federal System of Care Grant from the State of Delaware.
Most of the clients referred to the program have a history of suicidal or homicidal thoughts. Others are having serious family conflict issues along with behavioral elements. Clients are referred to the program by DPBHS Acute Care team and are on Medicaid or have no insurance.
The program ensures stabilization and connection to appropriate and continuing outpatient services for the child and his/her family.
"The period of time just after a child has been discharged from a hospital after a crisis situation is very risky," explained Lindsay Griffin, LCSW, who is the CARES Grant Supervisor for DGS. "In the hospital, a child has special programs all day long with plenty of buffers and structure."
A hospital stay, which is on average a week to ten days, is meant to stabilize a child and ensure that symptoms are not worsening. Once symptoms are under control, the child is discharged.
The CARES Program, also staffed by CPRS Clinicians Joanna Gentile, M. Ed., and Lauren Neel, MA, was created to prevent reoccurring hospitalizations due to the significant challenges inherent in the process of discharging a child after a crisis intervention and during the transition to the next level of service.
"A hospital stay doesn't eliminate the core issues that caused the crisis," Lindsay noted.
After a hospitalization, the youth returns to the environment which in many cases may have triggered or contributed to their emotional/behavioral instability.
Joanna gave the example of a 12-year-old girl with whom she has worked. "She'd been hospitalized three times within a month even though, at the last two discharges, her mother was encouraged to connect to outpatient services," Joanna explained. This mother did not initially follow up on this but with psycho education provided by CARES staff and as well as a plan to attend an initial session with the family, they were able to successfully connect with services.
"We're on board from the get go! Our first goal is to meet with the client and family members just before or at discharge to talk with them about the intensive wraparound service that CARES program provides," continued Lindsay. At this point, the clinician completes an initial assessment on the child to get histories on hospitalizations, behavior and mental health issues, family dynamics, school environment, and suicidal ideation.
Another key goal is to make sure the family understands the importance of outpatient counseling. CARES clinicians go along with the family to the first outpatient counseling session so they are more likely to stay in therapy.
"We give them a positive experience with outpatient counseling, make sure the counselor is a good fit, and provide our own observations," said Lauren.
The CARES team has up to 90 days to work with the client and his or her family. On a weekly basis, clinicians meet with client and parents/guardians individually and then meet jointly to do group work and family counseling. Family therapy is often focused on identifying triggers that upset the child's stability and improving communications.
Joanna recalled another client who was hospitalized for much of the summer. For her, self-harming behavior was triggered by the perception that her parents were invading her personal space. "We came up with a bracelet system," recalled Joanna. When the client wears a red bracelet, her parents know keep their distance. When the bracelet is green, Mom and Dad know it's okay to approach and talk. "It's working and they are excited," Joanna reported.
"We are very client-driven and tailor our services to whatever their individual and family needs are," said Lindsay. She cited the case of a 14-year-old female client who had been hospitalized several times in recent months for suicide attempts. Her father was her sole guardian. In the process of helping to identify triggers, Lindsay realized that a key trigger for the girl was disappointing her father. "As a result, we connected the father to services to help him make some adjustments."
Clinicians also go to the child's school and advocate for the family in the process of establishing plans for the child in that environment.
"All three of us previously worked as crisis clinicians for DGS in the past," noted Lauren. "We know what it's like at the start of a crisis and we saw the kinds of needs that exist once the worst of the crisis subsides. Now we're able to provide for those needs and it's a privilege. We see remarkable changes in relationships and at school. We get to leave families after seeing those kinds of successes," Lauren concluded.
The CARES program started this summer and will be in place for more than three years.
The DGS Advanced Clinical Training Program (ACTP) program is a unique workforce development initiative. We developed and launched this program in 2014 as a means of addressing Delaware's significant need for qualified mental health professionals and to enable us to see more clients. The two-year program teaches recent graduates of a master's level behavioral health program to be well-trained clinicians at the point of licensure. In September, a class of nine new ACTP trainees joined our clinical ranks. With oversight by DGS Director of Training Carl Chenkin, PhD and Outpatient Therapist supervisors, these trainees are already helping DGS clients of all ages, situations, and diagnoses.
|Pictured here are the 2015 class of ACTP trainees (from left to right): Catherine Fries, Erin Pfister, Hannah Rodriguez, Jennifer Stein, Sheila Evans, Allison Veith, Shayne Jervey, Laura Harper, and Yvette Aviles.|
DGS Named As A Top Workplace for Second Straight Year
Delaware Guidance Services was recently recognized as one of The News Journal's Top Workplaces in Delaware for the second consecutive year!
The Top Workplaces are determined based solely on employee feedback. The employee survey is conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, LLP, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement. Over the past year, more than 5,000 organizations and 1 in every 88 employees in the U.S. have turned to WorkplaceDynamics to better understand what's on the minds of their employees.
"The dedication and professionalism of our employees is what makes Delaware Guidance standout as an exceptional not-for-profit agency in Delaware." explains Executive Director, Bruce Kelsey. "They have a unique understanding of our mission and a commitment to serve our clients with integrity, compassion, and excellence."
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