We Are Here to Help

YFT Says: "We're Here to Help"

New Services Launched for Community, Public Schools

Youth For Tomorrow has moved to a new level in serving the community beyond the YFT campus with the addition of new initiatives to help young people and families experiencing conflicts in the home, school, or community.

The creation of several new programs completes a full circle of support for those in need, indicates YFT Program Director Dr. Courtney Gaskins. “YFT will now diagnose and assess children with behavioral and emotional issues, provide help in crises, provide ongoing mental health services in local public schools and on an out-patient basis, and even provide help to families in their homes.”

The programs, which include a Diagnostic and Assessment Center, Crisis Intervention Services, Outpatient Services, Therapeutic Day Treatment, and Intensive Home Services, are coordinated and can be accessed through a single initial point of contact at YFT.

Raheem Turain“With this complete range of programs, no child will fall through the cracks,” vows YFT External Program Director Raheem Turane. “YFT can help whether the problem is in the home, the school, or in the community. We can provide medication management, suicide prevention, and wrap around out-patient services on a long term basis.”

Children come into the programs through referrals by concerned parties, such as parents, teachers, law enforcement, and social service workers. The local Community Services Board then determines if the child meets criteria for mental health services. Upon CSB approval, the YFT Diagnostic and Assessment Center will do one assessment that can lead to one or more of the treatment programs. Medicaid and grants support the programs. All are available to children in eastern Prince William County, with the home services also available in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Spotsylvania, and Stafford Counties and Fredericksburg City.

Youth For Tomorrow has a staff of 15 counselors who work in the External Programs. They include mental health specialists, licensed clinical social workers, a registered nurse, and a child/adolescent psychiatrist. Members of the team meet once a week to discuss and coordinate treatment programs, and ensure that children are getting the appropriate services. YFT is licensed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS).

The First Step:

Thanks to a $319,400 grant from the Potomac Health Foundation, YFT has launched a Diagnostic and Assessment Center to serve children, adolescents, and those who care for them with quality mental health assessment and treatment. Social services agencies, the Community Service Board, youth-serving organizations, and pediatricians can refer individuals to YFT for assessment.

Services will include treatment planning; risk (suicide, sexual offender, aggression, sub- stance abuse, etc.) assessment; psychological testing; psychiatric evaluation; and medication management, referrals and case management. The D&A Center provides assistance to young people from ages five through 21 with intellectual, emotional, social, behavioral, and/or personality function. It also will serve the elderly, the disabled, and U.S. veterans who may have limited access to services.  Interpreters are furnished for Hispanic population as needed. The Center is co-located with the YFT Crisis Intervention Counseling Center (see below) on Minnieville Road in Woodbridge, VA.

Help in the Schools:

Negative peer pressure, substance abuse, delinquency, violence, and ideas about suicide are all issues often faced by  young  people in their teen years. Counselors at Youth For Tomorrow have a 27-year track record of providing support to vulnerable youth, and now YFT is making the benefits of that expertise available to young people in local public schools.

Under an agreement with Prince William County Public Schools, Youth For Tomorrow has begun providing Therapeutic Day Treatment in six Prince William County schools. They include three elementary, two middle, and one high school. As in so many areas throughout the country, Prince William County schools have been faced with increased gang activity, drugs, fighting, and students dropping out before graduating from high school. The schools selected by PWC for YFT involvement face all these challenges.

“The goals of the program are to reduce the number of students that have to be referred to alternative disciplinary programs,” says Dr. Gaskins. “Therapeutic day treatment also will reduce absenteeism and suspensions and increase student retention.”

The program combines intensive treatment to students utilizing psychotherapeutic interventions with educational assistance and mental health treatment.

“This may include behavior management, extensive face-to-face support, diagnostic assessment, weekly family counseling, weekly therapy sessions, anger management, therapeutic activities, and daily group therapeutic sessions, as well as medication education management,” Dr. Gaskins reports. The services will be offered on a year-round basis.

Help in Times of Crisis:

In February YFT opened its Crisis Intervention Counseling (CIC) services center, offering children and families in crisis the benefits of YFT’s extensive experience and expertise in dealing with adolescent crisis. YFT counselors act as “first responders,” providing temporary solutions for issues and references to outpatient treatment if needed. YFT offers responses to immediate issues with problem-solving techniques, and access to mental health professionals 24 hours a day.

The CIC, also supported by a grant from the Potomac Health Foundation, served more than 278 children and their families between January and August. Services provided include immediate crisis intervention, assessment, supportive counseling, linkage and follow-up services to adolescents and their families facing various types of crises.

Outpatient Services:

Youth For Tomorrow offers longer-term mental health services to children and adolescents from ages 5 to 18 years. The services are designed to meet needs of families from diverse backgrounds, and include therapy for a variety of problems including depression, anxiety, attention deficits and other behavioral problems. Services include outpatient mental health services, individual, family, and group therapy programs,  parent education and consultation, and problem specific, short-term groups. Outpatient services are available at the same location in Woodbridge.

Help in the Home:

For some families and individuals, the challenges of transportation, childcare issues, and work conflict have been insurmountable barriers to getting help. YFT has developed a program to provide services in the clients’ homes. The Intensive In-Home Services target youth between 5 and 17 who are at risk of removal from their homes because of conflicts with others.

YFT assists families in making changes that promote the well-being and functioning of the family unit, improve relationships, and keep families together.

Family issues can include parenting and communication skills, physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, school concerns, marital counseling, blended families, self-esteem and alcohol and chemical dependency.

Goals of the program are to improve parent/ child interaction and communication, support parents to be in charge, help parents establish rules, rewards, and consequences, and learn effective discipline techniques, and assist the child with taking responsibility for behaviors with strategies for change.