Project Summary

The Children’s Aid Society, a provider of mental health services for young people since 1985, operates eight school-based health centers in Central Harlem and the Washington Heights area of New York City. With the Caring for Kids grant, The Children’s Aid Society will expand and enhance an existing school-based mental health treatment program at community school I.S. 218, located in the Washington Heights neighborhood. I.S. 218 is a middle school serving a student population where the vast majority is born into poverty, nearly three-quarters are from immigrant families and 15% arrived within the past three years.

The funded project will increase both the number of students that are seen and treated at the health center and will improve the overall quality of care. This will be accomplished through a focus on improving both intake and treatment.

The intake process will be strengthened through a combination of referral training to school staff and the implementation of a computerized diagnostic tool (Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children) to identify students with problems. The treatment capacity will be increased by hiring a new Senior Social Worker and expanding the health center’s treatment approaches to include short-term modalities (Interpersonal Therapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy), teacher consultation, and parent management training.

The Children’s Aid Society project hopes its experience will affect both mental health practice and policy through its local and national partners, such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Child Welfare League of America, as well as through the advice provided by The Children’s Aid Society Community Schools Technical Assistance Center.

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Caring for Kids is funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, a nonpartisan policy and program center based at The George Washington University.