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As a part of its Integrated Health Services, HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services’ (HSVS) Article 31 clinic is staffed by psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors and nurse practitioners trained to treat children and young men and women in foster care, as well as their families. HSVS’ Foster Care Program and the HSVS Mental Health Clinic were selected by NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services to be the pilot agency for a new evidence-based model designed specifically to help foster youth and their families achieve better outcomes called “CBT+.” CBT+ aims to address behavioral health needs of youth and families affected by foster care placement, including trauma, anxiety, depression and disengagement.
This initiative, entitled “Partnering for Success,” is federally funded by the Children’s Bureau and is being led by the University of Maryland’s National Center for Evidence-Based Practice. HSVS is the only Article 31 clinic in New York City to be selected. As a part of the initiative, HSVS staff will participate in three training tracks and engage in a series of surveys to measure understanding of cognitive behavioral therapy and child welfare. Through this initiative, HSVS is paving the way for lasting change in the lives of foster youth and their families.
HSVS programs also work to ensure that families receive the support they need to prevent children from being placed in foster care. HSVS Family Service Centers equip program participants with resources, such as creative art therapies, to strengthen the family. At Bensonhurst Family Services, HSVS staff developed another creative outlet for program participants to express themselves, the Community Wish Tree.
The tree started as an illustration of a tree trunk and its bare branches with brown duct tape on the wall of Bensonhurst Family Services. Art Therapists Jessica Benson and Katie Hinson, who spearheaded the project, welcomed program participants to write their personal wishes on a leaf template and add it to one of the branches. “Kids love to point out their wishes on the tree or wishes that belong to family members. It’s a conversation starter and a way to help families focus on their goals,” said Benson.
Additionally, HeartShare employees shared best practices during National Creative Arts Therapy Week this year. Art Therapists Jennifer Russo and Linda Votruba at HeartShare St. Vincent’s Shirley Tanyhill Family Services, presented their work using art therapy with families in a variety of settings at the School of Visual Arts’ MPS Art Therapy Department (above).