DGS Staff and Outreach in Delaware

DGS Staff and Outreach in Delaware

A huge thank you to Malia Boone, Brandy Beatty, and Sara Heinicke for representing DGS at the AKA Zeta Omega Mental Health Forum on the Delaware State University campus.

AND, Michael Hoffa and Sammi Becker met with community members at the Food Bank of Delaware‘s Resource and Job Fair in Milford.
DGS Staff and Outreach in Delaware
Their enthusiastic outreach ensures the services and opportunities provided by DGS are easily available to #Delawarians. Thank you all for representing DGS so well!
Indeed We Are On Indeed

Indeed We Are On Indeed

Come Join the DGS Family.

DGS continues to experience steady growth. The agency is large enough to make an impact in the community, yet not too big to lose a caring work environment where employees can make a difference. With the wide variety of positions and programs, employees have several options to develop their careers.

Our employees tell us Delaware Guidance Services (DGS) is a great place to work. There is opportunity for work-life balance, challenging work, and a supportive and stimulating work environment. Employees at DGS have a great opportunity to make a significant impact in the lives of children throughout the state of Delaware, on the agency, and within their careers.

We offer a comprehensive and competitive benefits package to our employees, including:

  • Competitive compensation
  • Incentive pay plan for certain clinical staff positions
  • Medical and dental insurance
  • Health savings accounts (HSAs)
  • Life, AD&D, LTD, STD
  • Paid vacation, sick, and holidays
  • 403(b) plan with match and generous contribution

DGS Benefits

Employee contributions are required for some benefits. Delaware Guidance Services is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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To apply for a position, please visit our designated career website.

Project Innovation Winner

Project Innovation Winner

Delaware Guidance Services implements new Collaborative Problem Solving Approach within their Outpatient/Therapeutic Support for Families (OPTSF) program.

Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth (DGS) received a $25,000 Project Innovation grant from NBC10, Telemundo62, and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation for its Outpatient/Therapeutic Support for Families (OPTSF) program. The funding will be directed towards implementing the Collaborative Problem Solving Approach within their program.

The OPTSF program has been in existence for 23 years and serves children who require more intensive care and for patients where traditional outpatient care has not been successful. The Collaborative Problem Solving Approach is a unique model that focuses on cognitive skill deficits to help patients respond to outcomes across multiple settings such as at home and school. Patients and their families are assigned a clinician team where the clinician will go directly to their home and treat the client. OPTSF’s services last for approximately eight to 12 months, preparing families to resolve future challenges on their own with the proper tools.

Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth is one of the oldest and largest non-profit organizations in the state of Delaware, assisting children and families for more than 65 years. The organization provides care for more than 10,000 Delaware children through 100,000 visits each year. DGS aspires to build resilient families through their services ranging from traditional outpatient counseling to crisis response.

To support DGS’s mission, click here.

Youth in crisis: Officials discuss mental health issues

Youth in crisis: Officials discuss mental health issues

The mental health crisis is defined by the family, noted Malia Boone, youth crisis services program manager for Mobile Response and Stabilization Services — especially when dealing with the emotional stress placed upon them now.

“I’m not sure that families know when it’s OK to call crisis,” she said in a livestream hosted by NAMI Delaware Wednesday. “There might have been a time where they called crisis and they were told their child didn’t meet the criteria, or something like that, for crisis intervention. But it’s so important for families to know that the way we view crisis service at this point is that the crisis is defined by the family.”

MRSS responds to the needs of children ages 17 and younger and their families when children are struggling emotionally or behaviorally and it can be difficult to de-escalate the situation.

The services will determine if there’s need for emergency services, assess risk and plan for safety, defuse crisis situations and connect families to resources. The service can help develop plans for children to stay in their homes and school, and also refer children to treatment based on risk and needs. MRSS services are the same statewide and they responds within the hour, though Ms. Boone said that Sussex County is larger, and it may take longer for response.

In May, in response to COVID-19, the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health launched a phone line dedicated to helping Delawareans cope with stress and and other needs by connecting them with resources.

Many of the calls MRSS is receiving now are a more serious situation, Ms. Boone said in a phone interview.

“People are calling at the point there’s nothing else they can do but figure out some way to call, and sometimes that connection is actually occurring from the police department or from the emergency room that they’ve gone to because of how serious the situation got,” she said.

Typically, MRSS receives many of its referrals from schools, initiated by guidance counselors or principals to establish a need, said Ms. Boone. In the summer, they always see requests lessen. But over the last couple of months, there was a significant decline when compared to the amount of calls last year.

“We’ve received maybe three calls from schools and it’s been teachers,” she said, noting that teachers aren’t typically the ones making referrals.

“Those people who typically have contact with students really aren’t having a lot of contact with students during the pandemic,” she said. “Their teachers are having some contact but usually are only identifying students who need support through things that they wrote to them, like assignments or maybe they wrote a note to their teacher and said they’re having a hard time, but they’re not seeing it right in front of them like they normally would.”

It’s important to get ahead of the potential distress young people are feeling for a variety of reasons, said Annie Slease, director of advocacy and education at NAMI.

“Our emotional, mental health is really critical and young people often don’t have the words to explain or to tease out what’s happening, and so we want to make sure that the adults in their lives have the information and the support they need to help young people,” Ms. Slease said.

She noted that she comes from a place of lived experience where she didn’t know a service like this existed. If she had, though, she might not have called, she said.

“My own family, we didn’t know about this service but I can tell you, knowing what I knew then, I would have been afraid to call too soon. I would have thought they would dismiss me, I would have thought ‘It’s just my problem, I can handle this, they’re going to laugh at me,’” she said.

While NAMI was active in programming before the pandemic started to greatly alter life in mid-March, it had to quickly adapt to fit the needs the new landscape created, she said.

“We just really think it’s so important to reach families who might be struggling and maybe they’ve never had any connection to mental health services before because maybe there’s never been an issue before but we are in a pandemic now and that is just game changing for everyone,” Ms. Slease said.

The pandemic and its economic impact is one factor that could contribute to stress. But civil unrest in response to racial injustice is another factor that can contribute to deterioration of mental health.

Ms. Boone said that she hopes people will talk about how what’s going on around them is distressing.

“I’m not sure that, especially youth, feel comfortable saying, ‘This is something that bothers me, this is something that causes me anxiety, that causes me depression,’” she said. “My hope is that people will start to see it as something they can reach out for support about — ‘I struggle with this anxiety about if I go out into public, what’s going to happen? Am I going to die?’”
She added that there has been an increase in the adult system seeking support.

“If adults are needing more support there’s a good chance that youth also need additional support, and sometimes parents do start to question whether or not this is just typical teenage behavior or something to be concerned about. And if they’re questioning it, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and just talk it through with them on the crisis service,” she said.

If someone under the age of 18 is experiencing a mental health crisis, Youth Crisis can be reached at 1-800-969-HELP (4357). MRSS is available day and night, including weekends and holidays.

Visit Delaware State News for the full article.

House Bill 100 supports mental health units in schools

House Bill 100 supports mental health units in schools

A thank you to DGS Board Member, Trey Kraus for orchestrating a special event earlier this week.

On Wednesday, students and therapeutic classroom staff at Frederick Douglass Elementary had a visit from State Reps Valerie Longhurst (15th District) and Daniel Short (39th District). Representative Longhurst introduced House Bill 100 which supports mental health units in elementary schools. The bill has been assigned to the appropriations committee in the house.

Special thanks to supervisor Helene Vance, therapist Brittany Vodzak, and therapeutic interventionist Chelsea Shuey for their outstanding dedication to our students in the Frederick Douglass Therapeutic Classroom.

Gannett Foundation awards grant to local organization

Gannett Foundation awards grant to local organization

The Gannett Foundation, the charitable arm of the company that owns The News Journal, has awarded $37,000 to seven Delaware nonprofits.

Here are all the nonprofits that received grants from the Gannett Foundation this year and what the money will be spent on. For more information about the foundation, visit gannettfoundation.org.

Founded in 1952 by the Junior League of Wilmington, Delaware Guidance Services for Children & Youth, Inc. has grown from a one-psychiatrist operation in loaned space, to the largest single not-for-profit provider of comprehensive psychiatric services for children and their families in Delaware.

The grant will be used to provide incentives and rewards, as well as enrichment activities for disadvantaged children from at-risk backgrounds.

The money will be allocated to kids based on their level of need. For example, the nonprofit recently spent $300 on a summer camp program for a child who needed work on their social skills.

Read full article | The News Journal

Social Skills Groups

Social Skills Groups

Friendships are an important part of life and a must-have for protecting our mental health. They boost happiness, reduce stress, improve self-confidence and self-worth, and help us cope with traumas.

Thanks to a partnership with Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children and an ACCEL grant through the University of Delaware, DGS has been offering a special group therapy program for teens and preteens in Kent and Sussex County who are having difficulty making friends.

“The Program for the Evaluation and Enrichment of Relationship Skills (PEERS) was developed for children and teens who have been diagnosed with moderate to high functioning autism,” said Tiffany Jester, DGS Chief Clinical Officer. The fourteen-week program teaches a wide range of social skills such as tips for texting and how to make casual phone calls and plans to spend time with friends. It also covers appropriate use of humor, bullying, and how to avoid being bullied. Parents or guardians of the participants meet separately, but at the same time, to learn supportive skills and to support each other with their parenting challenges. There’s also homework to ensure participants practice and use their new skills.

The results are promising. “Most kids truly enjoy the program,” Tiffany reflected. “They improve their self-esteem and start spending time with new friends. One teen enjoyed it so much she returned to the sessions as a support member. Another non-verbal teen got an Apple watch specifically so he could use his new-found skill of texting friends.”

DGS staff members were trained in the PEERS intervention by Laura Dewy, Ph.D., Pediatric Psychologist at Alfred I. DuPont Hospital and Brian Freedman, Ph.D., Director of the Transition, Education, and Employment Model (TEEM) Unit at the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities. The ACCEL program is designed to improve health care in Delaware by bridging the gap between health researchers and communities.

Interested in participating in these sessions? Call DGS at (302) 652-3948.

Holly Ball 2017 Beneficiary

Holly Ball 2017 Beneficiary

We’re the grateful beneficiary of the 2017 Holly Ball!

Patty McCoy and Gigi Slattery, Holly Ball chairmen, recently presented our Executive Director Jill Rogers with a $20,000 contribution.

This generous donation will help us continue to provide evidenced-based programs and the highest-quality clinical services to keep kids out of the hospital, keep them from hurting themselves and each other, and strengthen their individual resiliency so they can grow and thrive despite obstacles in their lives.

The Holly Ball Foundation is a non-profit organization which supports fellow local non-profit organizations within the Delaware community. A yearly donation, generated by the Holly Ball held each December, benefits a worthy non-profit organization focused on serving children and women in Delaware.

DGS Names Executive Director

DGS Names Executive Director

Delaware Guidance Services is pleased to welcome Jill Rogers, as its new Executive Director. Jill succeeds Executive Director Bruce Kelsey, LCSW, who retired in October after 40 years of service to DGS and Delaware children and families.

Bruce devoted his tenure at DGS to helping Delaware’s most vulnerable children and families. On behalf of the Board of Directors, and everyone that has been touched by DGS, we thank Bruce for his dedication to the DGS mission and his tireless work of helping those in need.

Jill brings over 20 years of health and health care leadership in Delaware non-profit and public agencies, serving most recently as Director of the Delaware Division of Developmental Disabilities Services. She has played a key role in many of Delaware’s strategic health care initiatives, including innovative approaches to better integrate medical and behavioral health services and to address the cost and quality of health care and related services.

In her own words, Jill describes her leadership as one that focuses on “building relationships, valuing different perspective, seeking out and bringing marginalized voices to complicated issues and building consensus for meaningful and lasting change.”

Delaware Guidance Services’ mission is to provide quality therapeutic services to Delaware children, youth and their families to increase social, emotional and behavioral wellness. With approximately 200 employees, DGS has been one of Delaware’s Top Work Places for the last 4 consecutive years.