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Introducing The Children's Program, Supporting Families at Risk of Homelessness

Posted by Sarah Tyre on 4/21/21 2:09 PM

Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group Behavioral Health and Sacramento County have partnered in creating a new program to support children and families who are at risk of becoming homeless or are currently experiencing homelessness. The Children's Program applies a holistic approach to health. It treats both physical and mental health, while making sure families feel safe and self-sufficient.

In addition to providing needed mental health treatment, the program works with vendors to help alleviate common financial housing hardships families face that negatively impact their mental health, including rent, utilities, move-in deposits, furniture purchases, and other financial needs.

“Children thrive on predictability, routine, and feeling safe and contained,” said Carter Haynes, PhD, Mercy Medical Group Behavioral Health. “Not having a stable living environment puts emotional and mental stress on children that can result in tiredness from lack of sleep, anxiety and fear related to safety concerns, poor school performance and an inability to concentrate because of the stress they are living under.”

A Carefully Balanced Solution
“The Children’s Program helps to find creative and permanent solutions while respecting the recovery model where self-sustainability is necessary. This is an important balance,” said Sheri Green, Health Program Manager with Sacramento County Child and Family Mental Health. “It is clear that the leadership and teams supporting this program have embraced the mission that homelessness impacting mental health and wellness, is a problem they can help solve, one client at a time.”

For many families who are homeless, instability begins with an event like losing a job or a death in the family. Any period of homelessness can lead to problems with safety, mental health and physical health. The Children’s Program aims to improve the lives of participating families by providing them with necessary mental health and financial resources during these pivotal moments.

“For a lot of homeless or at-risk families, the difference between having stable housing and where they are, is not a large amount of money — it’s just a lot more than they have,” said Dr. Haynes. “Providing them with that financial support while continuing their mental health services can make a huge difference.”

Who is Eligible?
The Children’s Program serves Medi-Cal eligible clients ages 0-21 and their immediate family members. To be eligible, families must be referred through the Sacramento County ACCESS team. The program is funded by the Division of Behavioral Health Services, through the voter-approved Proposition 63, Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) and serves the following school districts:

● Elk Grove USD
● Folsom Cordova USD
● Galt Joint Union SD
● Sacramento City USD
● San Juan USD
● Twin Rivers USD

Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group will be providing mental health services to participating families at two area locations, the Rancho Cordova Children’s Center at 9837 Folsom Blvd., Suite F in Rancho Cordova, and the Children’s Center South at 6615 Valley Hi Drive, Suite A in Sacramento. Each center has a child/adolescent psychiatrist on staff, as well as mental health counselors and Family and Youth Peer Advocates.

Learn more about The Children’s Program and Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group Behavioral Health here. Families can be referred through the Sacramento County ACCESS team. For assistance with the referral process, area residents can call the Rancho Cordova location at 916.450.2600, or the South Sacramento location at 916.735.4575.

Topics: Mercy Medical Group, Behavioral Health

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