School Program Revamp Helps Kids
When a child or youth is struggling with complex mental health issues requiring intensive support, they can’t wait. A $100,000 grant from The Cowan Foundation enabled Lutherwood to reduce wait times and improve treatment and academic outcomes by restructuring its mental health treatment and academic program delivery.
Lutherwood offers intensive mental health treatment for 12-18 year old youth with complex mental health issues. As part of their treatment plan, the youth attend school at Lutherwood’s Children’s Mental Health Centre, which is staffed by Lutherwood counsellors and Waterloo Region District School Board teachers.
Traditionally, the youth were organized into five program-specific classrooms. However, this approach resulted in some program desks sitting empty while there were wait lists for others. The clinical and teaching staff worked together to develop a model that allows the youth to attend the classroom that best meets their literacy, learning and developmental abilities and is flexible enough to accommodate fluctuations in demand. The resulting model:
• shortens wait times and increases the capacity to help the youth as desks are no longer dedicated to a specific day or residential treatment program
• mixes residential and day treatment youth giving both groups more opportunity to practice social and emotional skills in an environment that more closely parallels life in the community
• accommodates students enrolling and completing their treatment plans outside of traditional semester timing
• helps youth better prepare for re-integration into their community schools
“Innovation is critical to every business and the best way to improve services is to involve the staff members who work closest to customers,” said John Colangeli, CEO of Lutherwood. “Our staff came up with a model that makes sense for everyone involved. All we needed was the funding to fully and effectively implement these fundamental and very necessary changes. The Cowan Foundation listened to our proposal, saw our vision and invested in the future of the kids we serve.”
“Having to wait to receive the tools and strategies to cope and prosper in life is just not acceptable,” said Terry Reidel, Executive Director of The Cowan Foundation. “This change in programming is another example of Lutherwood’s ability to innovate to continue to respond to the needs of the youth they serve. The ability to adapt is an organizational imperative that aligns with Cowan’s goal of continuing to deliver market leading solutions for our clients.”
The $100,000 grant will help Lutherwood design a new assessment strategy for assigning classrooms, train staff in the new treatment and education approach, modify classroom spaces, complete an outdoor classroom and hire a full-time supervisor to ensure the new model is consistently implemented.