Specialized Clinical Programs
Our Specialized Clinical Programs are designed to provide services to specific target populations. The programs are unique in our community and can only be accessed at The Center. The programs serve the most at risk children,youth and families by providing comprehensive plans of care with the goals of strengthening families and reducing the impact of negative behaviors so that children and youth remain in home,school and community.
Extended Day Treatment (Prospects)
Prospects is a community-based model of care with a behavioral approach to treatment and rehabilitative support services for children ages 5-12 who have been unable to function successfully in mainstream after-school environments. Prospects is available to children in Norwalk, Westport, Weston, Wilton, Darien, New Canaan, and Stamford.
Prospects works to stabilize the child's environment while providing the opportunity for the child and the family to learn new skills to better adapt to life situations.
Many children attending Prospects have poor social skills, poor impulse control, and/or few support systems. This is often demonstrated by a variety of inappropriate behaviors including aggression, stealing, lying, and/or extreme disrespect towards peers and adults. As a result, children have few successful relationships in the community.
A team of multi-disciplinary staff including psychiatrists, masters and doctoral level clinicians, and paraprofessionals provide a broad range of treatment services and psychosocial interventions.
The group treatment structure at Prospects facilitates the development of appropriate social skills by teaching problem solving strategies and providing a safe place for the children to test their new skills. Children learn to identify feelings and find alternative ways of expressing themselves. Therapeutic activities, including art, drama and recreational therapy, are designed to promote a development of trust among adults and peer group, as well as enhance the self-esteem of group members.
Family involvement is a key component of the Prospects treatment program. Prospects provides support to families by empowering parents to advocate for their children, linking families with other support services within the community and facilitating better communication between community services. Parent groups and family activities are designed to offer support, facilitate positive interactions between family members, and allow staff to model the problem solving strategies that their children are learning.
The overall goal of treatment is to enable the child to better function in all areas of life - home, school, and the community. To that end, Prospects' staff works closely with the child's school, family, primary clinical therapist, and any outside agencies involved.
TF-CBT is an evidence-based treatment model that is effective in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and behavioral problems in children exposed to traumatic events..
TF-CBT consists of several core treatment components that are designed to be provided in a flexible and developmentally appropriate manner to address the unique needs of each child and family. Specifically, TF-CBT is a short-term treatment that may work in as few as 12 treatment sessions. Treatment may be provided for longer periods depending on the child and family's needs. Individual sessions for the child and for the caregivers, as well as joint caregiver-child sessions address the following:
Providing education to children and their caregivers about the impact of trauma on children and common childhood reactions to trauma;
Helping children and their caregivers identify and cope with a range of emotions;
Developing personalized stress management skills for children and caregivers;
Teaching children and caregivers how to recognize the connections between thoughts, feelings and behaviors;
Encouraging children to share their traumatic experiences either verbally, in the form of a written narrative, or in some other developmentally appropriate manner;
Helping children and caregivers talk with each other about the traumatic experiences;
Modifying children's and caregiver's inaccurate or unhelpful trauma-related thoughts; and
Helping caregivers develop skills for optimizing their children's emotional and behavioral adjustment.
Multiple randomized, controlled clinical trials by different research groups have found that TF-CBT is better than no treatment or good comparison treatments in reducing common symptoms related to trauma. This is the highest level of evidence for treatment efficacy. TF-CBT was given a ranking of "1", the highest level of empirical support in the U.S.
TF-CBT was selected as a "Best Practice" for cases of child abuse in the Kaufman Best Practices Final Report sponsored by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
TF-CBT has been named a Model Program by the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
This treatment model was initially developed to address trauma associated with child sexual abuse and has more recently been adapted for use with children who have experienced a wide array of traumatic experiences, including multiple traumas. Research indicates that TF-CBT is effective in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and behavioral problems (including sexual behavior problems) in children exposed to traumatic events.
Crisis Intervention Services
Crisis Intervention Services (CIS), part of the Center's Enhanced Care Clinic (ECC), provides provides timely short-term, intensive outpatient treatment and assessment for active cases at The Center. The goal of CIS is the stabilization of the child/youth in crisis, with subsequent referral to appropriate services.
CIS focuses on emergent cases, which are evaluated on site within two hours, and urgent cases, which are evaluated on site within two days. Acute cases are seen immediately and can involve managing an inpatient psychiatric hospitalization if the health and safety of the child/youth is at risk.
Cases that are not currently open at The Center are directed to call 211, the region's Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services, which is on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Child FIRST Program
Child FIRST (Family Interagency Resource, Support, and Training) is a model, home-based early childhood intervention program, embedded in a system of care, that works to decrease the incidence of serious emotional disturbance, developmental and learning problems, and abuse and neglect among the most vulnerable young children and families.
Scientific research in brain development clearly shows that high-risk environments, involving maternal depression, domestic violence, substance abuse, or homelessness, lead to levels of stress that can be "toxic" to the young, developing brain. Without the buffer of strong, nurturing relationships, the results are long-term damage with decreased learning, behavioral and emotional problems and poor health.
The Child FIRST Response:
Child FIRST utilizes broad community partnerships for early identification of children from these high-risk environments, or children who show the earliest signs of emotional, behavioral or developmental problems.
Referral to Child FIRST provides:
Intensive home visiting intervention: This comprehensive approach includes assessment and consultation in early care and education; integrated family-driven plans and home-based parent guidance; and parent-child psychotherapeutic services, all conducted by M.A. level mental health/development clinicians and care coordinators.
Care coordination/case management: Equally comprehensive, this system coordinates access to community resources for all family members, through collaboration among early childhood systems of care, councils and agencies. In doing so it provides, simplified, local access to expert resources for all children and families, while preventing duplication, gaps and inefficiency. Child FIRST Norwalk Partnership
The Child Guidance Center of Mid-Fairfield County is the lead agency for the Norwalk replication program and partners with Family & Children's Agency and the Norwalk Community Health Center.
The Center's program employs two teams, each with a M.A./Ph.D. level child development clinician and a B.A. level parent educator. A senior supervising child development expert supervises both.
The program is located at the Norwalk Community Health Center - a major source of referrals from its primary care department.