Boys & Girls Aid partners with Kinship House to improve mental health services

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Kinship House is partnering with Boys & Girls Aid to provide onsite mental health services to children in Oregon’s foster care system. The partnership is designed to reduce the wait time for access to mental health counseling while improving the potential for children in foster care to find permanent, lifelong relationships.

Before this partnership, youth in foster care could wait up to one month before seeing a counselor for mental health needs due to the approval and referral process. By hosting a Kinship House counselor at Boys & Girls Aid’s headquarters in the Johns Landing Neighborhood, children and teenagers served by both organizations can sometimes meet with a counselor right away.

“Kinship House is pleased to join efforts with our amazing local partner Boys & Girls Aid in combining our skills and missions to improve the lives and support permanency for our local foster children,” Heather Jefferis, Executive Director at Kinship House said. “We greatly appreciate child welfare’s recent investment of helping us do more for our kids!”

At their Southwest Portland headquarters, Boys & Girls Aid hosts a day program for youth in foster care between 10-18 years old. Most of the youth in this program are considered part of the Oregon Department of Human Services Therapeutic Foster Care. Children and young adults in these programs often times have higher mental, physical and emotional needs due to abuse and neglect that occurred prior to entering foster care. Youth in therapeutic foster care have often times been in foster care for years, and have sometimes moved between multiple foster homes and schools in a single year.

Without the right level of mental health support, children in foster care can develop behaviors that make it difficult to find them a permanent and stable family. For children who do not return home or are adopted out of foster care, they will remain in the system until they age out. Children who grow up in foster care are significantly less likely to graduate high school or attend college.

“Children in foster care are confused by their situation because so many adults have come and gone through their lives. They have such little trust in not being abandoned,” Suzan Huntington, President & CEO at Boys & Girls Aid, said. “By partnering with Kinship, we can ensure children have a better understand of where they came from and where they are going.”

In addition to serving the youth at Boys & Girls Aid, Kinship will also work with their own clients out of the southwest location with the same goal of supporting children in foster care as they work to find a forever family. Headquartered in North Portland, having counseling services on the west side will limit the drive time for people access Kinship’s services.
The services were funded through a $250,000 grant from Oregon’s Department of Human Services. The onsite counseling services will launch in early October.

 
Ryan Imondi