Youth mental health nonprofit Children's Health Council has opened a new location in East Palo Alto with the ambitious goal of serving five times as many children as the organization currently does in that community.
Children's Health Council, which has been providing mental health services at no cost to children and families for five years in East Palo Alto, parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City, can now do so out of a physical home at 1848 Bay Road.
The surrounding area is designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a "Health Professional Shortage Area," meaning there are not enough medical and mental health professionals to meet the community's need, CHC said in an announcement.
"Despite a vibrant community, rich with culture, history and potential, stressful conditions create a collective sense of heightened anxiety, fear, grief, and trauma — all barriers to learning and thriving," the press release states.
The new space "comes with an ambitious vision: for a system where no child in the community falls through the cracks due to a mental health issue that may impact their learning and/or ability to be happy, healthy, and successful," CHC said.
The nonprofit launched the Ravenswood Initiative in 2014 to provide mental health services to underserved and under-resourced families in the community regardless of language, location or ability to pay. CHC sought to serve children and families where they live and go to school and in their preferred languages.
Since then, CHC hired a team of three bilingual, bicultural clinicians; provided $1.3 million in free services and financial aid for families; and provided "deeper" support to seven schools, three after-school programs and two youth and family organizations, according to the press release. CHC also provides free consultations to parents and teachers, offers workshops and conducts observations and evaluations for high-risk children.
CHC works with East Palo Alto schools and organizations including the Ravenswood City School District, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, Eastside College Prep, KIPP charter schools, All Five, Able Works and The Primary School.
"The trusted relationships that we've built in the community over the past five years, as well as CHC's expertise in bilingual, multicultural and affordable mental health and education services, have poised us for this opportunity to deepen our impact," CHC Chief Clinical Officer Ramsey Khasho said in the announcement. "Along with our program partners, we can promote earlier intervention and better outcomes for underserved youth."
CHC is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new location for mid-February.