The mission of Children's Friend is to "improve the lives of children and promote strong families by partnering with community organizations to provide services to strengthen individuals, families and community life."
Founded in 1837 as the Salem Seaman's Orphan's Society, the organization known today as Children's Friend and Family Services is one of the Northeast's oldest charities, the result of several historic agencies merging over time into a single, vibrant entity. Our specific demographic is vulnerable and at-risk children from financially disadvantaged families residing in the North Shore and Merrimack Valley who need access to the best quality services and coordination of those services. Over the past 176 years, Children's Friend has evolved in response to the needs of youth and families, providing mental health counseling, CBHI services, volunteer and therapeutic mentoring, teen parent program, and juvenile court clinic services. We are committed to making contributions to the community in a tangible and measureable way. As a community-based service provider, our main focus is creating and supporting the healthy interrelation of child, family and community. We believe that mental health treatment has a much greater impact when it is integrated into a child's/youth's family and community life. This well proven and successful approach guides our clinical work through the services we offer both on-site at our offices and off-site in our clients' homes, schools, day care centers, community health centers and in the court system. The significant and positive impact that Children's Friend fosters in each of these areas enables us to build relationships with families, with helping professionals, and with other public and private child-serving agencies to develop a network of support and to create a comprehensive service team.
Children's Friend has grown exponentially in the past year, almost doubling in size. We have embraced the new children's services through The Children's Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) , funded by MassHealth. The following services are offered in the home and community:
Community Service Agency (CSA)– serving the Lynn and Lawrence catchment areas –
CSAs provide Intensive Care Coordination and Family Support and Training (FS & T) to over 200 local youths with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) and complex needs by using a wraparound approach that creates, puts in place and monitors an individual care plan that addresses the specific needs of the family.
In Home Therapy (IHT)– currently serving Salem, Lynn, Gloucester and Lawrence–
In Home Therapy is a structured, consistent strengths-based therapeutic relationship between a team of clinicians and the youth and family for the purpose of treating the youth’s social, emotional and behavioral health needs while empowering families with the tools necessary to support the child in the home.
Therapeutic Mentoring (TM)– serving Salem, Lynn, Gloucester and Lawrence –
Therapeutic Mentoring Program offers a structured, one-to-one, strengths-based support service between a therapeutic mentor and a youth for the purpose of addressing daily living, social and emotional issues.
For 2013, we will be working on a new Strategic Plan which will address ongoing issues of technology and interfacing with Accountable Care Organizations. In addition, we continue to work on our organizational infrastructure by hiring (usually from within our existing staff) program supervisors in an effort to add another layer of administration to our programs.
We have also implemented a new Payroll and Human Services program which has enhanced features for staff to enter theri time worked and also for recruitment of new satff.
For all of our programs, we would love to have some flexible funding to support our families. For example, many families cannot afford to buy their children school supplies and backpacks. In addition, we have children in our Mentoring Programs who would greatly benefit from having funds to do activities with their mentors to build their confidence and self-esteem and teach them how to find community resources.
We have also embarked on a Technology Project which included restructuring our current IT system to work more efficiently and to prepare for our Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, which should be operational in 2103. As part of our Technology Project, our goal is to implement our EMR, train all of our staff and supply all of our direct care staff with portable devices so they can enter their documentation in real time. We also want to purchase a new accounting software package with more current applications. This project will cost approximately $400,000.
We also want to invest in more trainings for staff. We are working with more and more military families, so will be hosting a training in "How to Work Clinically with Military Families". We will need funding to treat these families, as many are underinsured.
With the addition of the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) services just over one year ago, Children's Friend has been able to successfully implement new services to strengthen our positive impact on children and families. These services include the following: a) Community Service Agency (CSA): Our two CSAs, serving the Lynn and Lawrence catchment areas, employ teams of Care Coordinators and Family Partners with oversight by licensed clinicians and managers, to provide Intensive Care Coordination (ICC) and Family Support and Training (FS&T) to over 200 children and youth with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and complex needs. CSA utilize a 'wraparound' approach, which is a process designed to yield care plans that are a mix of provider and community-based services that are family driven, youth-guided, individualized, and culturally and linguistically competent for the youth and family.; b) Therapeutic Mentoring (TM): We currently have our therapeutic mentors working one-on-one with over 100 children or youth who, because of his or her behavioral health needs, requires support and coaching to learn social skills, including better ways to communicate and get along with others. These services are prescribed as part of the child's comprehensive behavioral health treatment plan and parents feel more supported and better able to interact with their children.; and c) In Home Therapy (IHT): In-Home Therapy Services utilizes a team approach to provide intensive therapy and behavioral health support services to treat the child's behavioral health needs and help the family support the child in the home. This service has greatly helped multi-stressed families to address the family system and family culture. Clinicians go into a family's home as a team and work with the entire family system, not just the identified client. We believe that the current use of buildings called "clinics" imposes extreme limitations on the real value of treatment. While buildings and offices are necessary - we believe that clinicial services should be fully accessible in a variety of settings - the school, the home, the day care of after school setting. When we work with a youth, we work with the family, the school or day care, Head Start, or the court system. Our goal is to strengthen the skills of the parent and of the other important adults in the youth's life (i.e., teacher) in working with the youth, so that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Board Chair Statement
I would say that one of our greatest successes came as a result of the addition of the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) enabling us to implement new services. These services include the following: a) Community Service Agency (CSA) which serve the Lynn and Lawrence catchment areas. This service provides Intensive Care Coordination (ICC) and Family Support and Training (FS&T) to over 200 children and youth with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and complex needs. CSAs utilize a 'wraparound' approach, which is a prcess designed to yield care plans that are a mix of provider and community-based services that are family-driven, youth guided, individualized, and culturally and linguistically competent for the youth and family. Our two CSAs have received very positive feedback from the state in terms of performance and adhering to the model.; b) In Home Therapy (IHT) which uses a team approach to provide intensive therapy and behavioral health support services to treat the child's behavioral health needs and help the family support the child in the home. This service has greatly helped multi-stressed families to address the family system and family culture.; and c) Therapeutic Mentoring (TM) which through one-on-one interaction with a child the therapeutic mentor can address the behavioral health needs that require support and coach their mentee to learn social skills, including better ways to communicate and get along with others. These services are prescribed as part of the child's comprehensive behavioral health treatment plan. This program helps parents feel more supported and better able to interact with their children. I would say our greatest challenge is the development of our Strategic Technology Plan, which addresses the Agency's needs to expand and broaden our capacity to manage client information, support business operations and improve internal and external communications. Additionally, the new or upgraded software will support our agency's compliance with federal law requiring organizations that provide and bill for health services to have electronic medical records by the year 2014. This software will be invaluable in helping our programs hone in on specific areas of client need and identifying "best practice" treatment modalities. We will be able to streamline administrative 'paperwork' resulting in improved efficiency and better client outcomes which will increase staff morale as they better use their time to deliver actual services; moving from supporting an office-based practice to one that also supports staff who do outreach work in the community. I feel so lucky to be able to bring my expertise in strategic planning, information technology and finance to the Board of Children's Friend from my job as Senior Vice President of the Treasury and Financial Services Group at the Federal Reserve Bank. More importantly I am privileged to be involved with an agency committed to empowering chidlren and families to meet today's myriad of challenges. Children and families face many struggles today and if I can help just one from behind the scenes, I am so grateful for the opportunity.