NYN Media has published an in-depth look at the pilot expansion of University Settlement Families Thriving mental health services to 11 additional schools in NYC’s Community District 1 we are currently undertaking with the support of Trinity Church Wall Street.
“Launched in 2017 with seed funding from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, University Settlement’s Families Thriving program is a comprehensive mental health care system serving low-income families, particularly those constrained by health care plans such as Medicaid. By partnering with educators, Families Thriving collaborates with families and organizations to create a reliable and responsive community-based mental health care network, having served over 500 individuals over a five-year period.
The program’s pilot expansion will provide community-based, multi-tiered mental health and wellness support along with wraparound services to 11 additional schools in District 1 on the Lower East Side, ranging from healing workshops to clinical referrals.”
The piece includes quotes from University Settlement’s partners at District 1:
“‘Families Thriving sits on our weekly attendance, school-based support, and Planning and Placement Team (PPT) team meetings so that they’re at the table when social emotional needs arise that need to be supported or discussed,’ said Carry Chan-Howard, superintendent of Community School District 1. ‘Families Thriving is providing us consultations and care in real time, ensuring rapid access to support – which is critical for children.’
As such, Families Thriving effectiveness is fostered by its close collaborations within the school district but unlike school counselors and social workers, the program’s flexible services extends beyond to skill-building workshops and clinical referrals – as part of the continuum of University Settlement mental health network.
As the expansion plan aims to provide mental health support to an additional 2,675 students, with partner organizations anticipating an additional 75 district families receiving clinical engagement with Families Thriving services, hundreds more will receive “light touch” social and emotional support, and opportunities.”
And at Trinity Church Wall Street:
“As schools will be able to outsource mental health services, the expansion will significantly lessen the strain on educators and school counselors, who grapple with the current city budget cuts. Trinity Church Wall Street’s partnership with Families Thriving offers a solution to these gaps in funding for mental health services, which the nonprofit identified following a comprehensive needs assessment, which indicated a high demand for mental health services among residents of lower Manhattan.
‘The assessment identified a main causal loop, where the family income leads to education then to employment, which then leads to family income,’ said Lorelei Atalie Vargas, chief community impact officer of Trinity Church Wall Street. ‘This generational loop can either be vicious, or vicarious. It can be vicarious when you have a lot of income, or it can be vicious when you don’t have a lot of income and access to quality education and employment. Which ultimately leads to low income.’
In order to break the vicious cycle of the causal loop, Vargas stated that the assessment identified mental health as a key factor determining a family’s success.
‘Mental health essentially impacts every stage of that cycle,’ said Vargas. ‘Families face daily stressors of poverty, children are experiencing unprecedented amounts of anxiety and depression. So that, coupled with barriers to access to a spectrum of services, creates a challenge at every stage of the cycle.’