Providing a Passage to Children Behavioral Health Wraparound Services
It takes a village to raise a child – a common African proverb narrated throughout society which means an entire community of people must interact with children, guiding them to reach their full, true potential.
At Children’s Services of Roxbury (CSR), the Behavioral Health Department (BHD) personifies this concept through its Bridge to Resiliency program; a program that provides a village of Clinicians, Intensive Care Coordinators, Family Partners, Therapeutic Mentors, and In Home/ Outpatient Therapy to Boston Public School (BPS) students and families experiencing mental and behavioral health challenges.
“We are not just working with students and their schools, we are taking a look at what’s happening for students in their homes and their community; we are also seeing what needs the parents might have,” said Darryl Huggins, Director of Bridge to Resiliency. “The only way to really support a child is to support the entire circle around them.”
Bridge to Resiliency is a partnership between Children’s Services of Roxbury and BPS to address the complex social, emotional and behavioral needs of students.
In efforts to decrease disciplinary action in schools as a response to student’s behavioral health challenges, Bridge to Resiliency engages school leaders, teachers and parents to work together to identify the student’s needs, connecting them with culturally attuned, insurance-funded behavioral health care.
Through MassHealth, the Children Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), provides free services for MassHealth-insured children with behavioral, emotional, and mental health needs, and provides their families with integrated behavioral health services, and a comprehensive, community-based system of care.
While these mental and behavioral health services are paid for by MassHealth, all too often children and families are either unaware the services exist, or apprehensive to seek the services. Bridge to Resiliency subsequently connects BPS students and their families to these services.
“As an agency, our Behavioral Health department has been working in several Boston Public Schools, filling a void that we saw through our clinicians,” said Huggins. “Naturally in our work, we have a partnership with lot of Boston Public Schools. Through those partnerships, schools recognized there was more they needed, and as an agency, we have the capacity to fill that void, so that’s what we started to do through the wraparound services offered with Bridge to Resiliency.”
HOW IT WORKS:
Referrals for students are made from BPS, at which point a clinician from CSR Behavioral Health Department goes out to meet with the student’s caregiver for consent to meet with the student.
A Family Partner may accompany the clinician to the home to explore potential services the caregiver may need – services such as access to food, housing, resources etc.
Once consent is given, the Intensive Care Coordinator works with school officials to identify the services the student needs.
The student is then provided wraparound services accordingly, which can include getting paired with a clinician, therapeutic mentor, and in-home/outpatient therapy.
There are currently 12 Boston Public Schools implementing the Bridge to Resiliency model: The Lee Academy Pilot School • Succeed Boston • Snowden International School • William E. Russell Elementary School • Taylor Elementary School • Holmes Innovation School • Epiphany School • David A. Ellis Elementary School • Match Charter Public School • Curley School • Dudley Charter School • J Henry Higgins Middle School •
“We really try to encompass our wraparound model within BPS, and we find that we’re supporting the entire family’s needs, not just the student’s needs,” said Tiffany Beckman, Bridge to Resiliency Coordinator .
A part of Beckman’s role as a Bridge Coordinator entails working closely with BPS to help identify the most efficient services students need. It involves attending weekly student support meetings, talking with the student’s teachers, guidance counselors, and principal to discuss challenges the student might be having.
“A lot of students that are referred to us might be having difficulty in the classroom, experiencing some safety concerns, or they might be dealing with something in the home like a death,” said Beckman.
Director of Bridge to Resiliency, Darryl Huggins, recalls working with a BPS fourth-grade student who was referred to Bridge to Resiliency due to difficulty focusing in the classroom. Once the wraparound services Bridge to Resiliency provide were implemented, it was revealed that the student had experienced severe trauma. The student witnessed the murder of his father and uncle:
October 2019, Bridge to Resiliency was awarded a $300K three-year grant from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Collaboration for Community Health. The grant allows the ability to expand the capacity of Bridge to Resiliency in six of the twelve BPS with which Bridge to Resiliency is partnered.
The grant will provide resources to identify a student and family needs, and match them to the appropriate services. Partnerships in the grant are Boston Public Schools, and Smith School of Social Work – who will do an evaluation and collect data to measure the success of Bridge to Resiliency.
“It’s really meeting the student where they’re at, and meeting the school where they’re at so you can serve the student,” said Ayana Perez, Outpatient School-Based Clinician.
“The process really depends on what the youth is going through and what their challenges are,” said Issac Soldz, Outpatient School-Based Clinician Intern.
Bridge to Resiliency empowers students and their families to utilize the mental and behavioral health services they are entitled to under MassHealth insurance. It is essential to provide a connection between a child, their parent, school/teacher and needed services, and Bridge to Resiliency does that.
“A part of the work we’re doing is also destigmatizing mental health and making it more normal for kids, and increasing the awareness for both schools and parents about what services are available,” said Huggins.
Huggins said that while the students have one-on-one individual therapy, they can also do some less clinical group work which introduces them to the concept of mental health. “The goal is that as these students get older and become adults, they will be more comfortable and open to seeking mental health support if they need it,” he said.
Over the course of three-years, Bridge to Resiliency will aim to use the grant to serve 150 BPS students a year with wraparound behavioral and mental health services.
To request services or to make a referral, please submit CSR Behavioral Health Department Referral Form, or call the Behavioral Health Department’s referral line at 617-989-9486.