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Orleans Parish School Board & Center for Resilience Partner to Address Mental Health Needs of New Orleans Children

Today (Jan. 4), the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and the Center for Resilience (previously known as the New Orleans Therapeutic Day Program) announced a new partnership aimed at addressing gaps in mental health supports in the city, while also implementing trauma-informed programming to New Orleans public school students in need.  Currently, the Center for Resilience (the CFR) is the only day treatment program in Louisiana and offers academic and mental health services for children in Orleans Parish in grades K-8 with moderate to significant, diagnosed behavioral health disabilities. Schools refer children to the CFR who continue to struggle in a traditional school setting even after multiple school-level interventions and supports.

In New Orleans, 60 percent of children suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and are 4.5 times more likely than their peers nationwide to show signs of Serious Emotional Disturbance. The CFR responds to this severe need for behavioral and mental health interventions for children in the Greater New Orleans area by providing evidence-based, individualized mental health and educational services and placement to students whose needs cannot be met in a traditional school setting.

The CFR is an innovative partnership among educators, clinicians and medical practitioners and provides clinically sound, academically effective and culturally sustaining services to ensure the emotional well-being and academic readiness of children with behavioral health disabilities in the Greater New Orleans region.

“What’s innovative about the Center for Resilience is that we actively work to balance academic, clinical, and medical perspectives into our program to help children build the skills necessary to successfully transition back to their schools,” said CFR Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Marcell.  “For children, parents, and families, we can offer educational services, counseling, therapy services, and medication management and support at a single location.”

Thus far, the CFR has reduced the rates of crisis hospitalization by 75 percent, based on pre-referral data, as compared with hospitalizations for behavioral crises while in the program.  CFR has also seen a 69 percent decrease in the number of behavioral crises on-site, over time. Individualized clinical treatment services range from individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy and psychological assessments.

“One of our strategic priorities focuses on how we are responsible for the system-wide needs for our students. This partnership really addresses one of our most pressing, yet unmet needs,” said Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr., Superintendent of Schools.  “More importantly, as we work to educate every child here in  New Orleans we recognize that part of  meeting that need means providing a space that is safe and tailored to their specific needs.”  

As a non-profit, the CFR’s mission is to address existing gaps in child and adolescent mental health care, and to build a continuum of mental and behavioral health services and placements for children ages 0 – 22 with emotional health needs. Immediate priorities include the expansion to serve children in grades 9-12 and exploring the feasibility of launching a group home. 

With this new partnership with the OPSB in place the CFR hopes to double the number of children served in the Greater New Orleans area by 2022 and engage hospital partners in completing a true continuum of care for those students in need.

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