As the public mental health provider in Genesee County for over five decades, Genesee Health System (GHS) has ensured access to comprehensive behavioral health care services for residents of Flint and surrounding communities.
Following the 2014 Flint water crisis, the need for our services increased exponentially. The damaging effects of lead exposure, particularly in children, laid over top of existing socioeconomic driven health disparities, compounded the challenges facing families. In the years that followed, the second wave of the crisis emerged as we began to see growing behavioral issues and declining academic achievement in area schools. As we have always done, we focused on ensuring as many impacted individuals and families as possible could access our services. This included the launch of the world class Neurodevelopmental Center of Excellence (NCE), which provides assessments and individualized treatment for children experiencing developmental, behavioral, and intellectual challenges – conditions that have become more prevalent since 2014.
Part of our commitment to provide accessible mental health care, we have launched an effort to develop a new hub for Child and Family Services.
This new facility will co-locate our core services, addressing one of the greatest barriers for families – navigating dispersed programs at different locations around the city. In addition to improving existing services, we saw an opportunity to provide an integrated resource for the physical health care needs of patients and families through the addition of a new, federally qualified health care center.
In 2020, in partnership with Greater Flint Mental Health Facilities, Inc, we launched a campaign to raise community support for the project. Following, you will learn more about how our plans for the Center for Children’s Integrated Services.
We invite you to join us in bringing this vision to fruition.
through the Flint water supply
in the Flint area
age 0-19 in 2020
GHS, along with Greater Flint Mental Health Facilities, Inc (GFMHF), has set a bold vision for a new facility that will serve as the central hub for the evaluations and treatment that Flint’s children and their families need to move forward.
The purpose-built design of the new facility will provide a welcoming environment that is encouraging to a community that is trying to rebuild trust, have the capacity to increase the reach of essential services and reduce the barriers that keep community members from accessing these services.
Because the effects of lead poisoning are so variable, there is not one treatment approach that will work for everyone. Neurodevelopmental assessments are necessary to examine all aspects of brain function and to develop a highly customized set of treatment recommendations. Diagnoses from these screenings ensures that students will get the additional support they needed at school, as well as the necessary medical interventions. As part of GHS, the NCE also makes referrals for other healthcare services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and nutrition services.
The assessment process averages four hours, requiring families to find space for an extended period of time. This is particularly challenging for families with multiple children. The new design includes:
The center’s staff are caring, experienced, trained and certified who promote positive behavior while empowering and educating parents to take an active role in their child’s treatment. Parent and family involvement is of the utmost importance with this program. Participation in direct observation, parent education, and regularly occurring progress reviews are offered and encouraged. Programming for older children and youth include learning life skills such as cooking, budgeting, and independent living.
The new facility will be built around the mission of the programs it houses, with an activity-based design approach that supports clinical programs and individual client needs. The assessment spaces are designed to limit acoustical and visual disturbances which can significantly disrupt the clinical and assessment process. Additionally, the staff spaces and office areas will facilitate collaboration amongst programs for each individual child and family.
GHS offers services and supports to children with serious emotional disturbances and developmental disabilities, and to their families. Services are designed to help the child or youth live successfully at home, in school, and in the community. These many programs will work together to ensure success for the children and families in our care, providing care throughout the GHS programs, but also with schools and social service agencies.
The new facility will provide space for therapeutic services as well as fostering collaboration among staff and between teams to ensure families are receiving an integrated continuum of care.
Genesee Community Health Center (GCHC), run under the umbrella of GHS services, opened in 2012 to meet an unmet community need for more medical services for vulnerable populations. These include families in public housing, individuals who are homeless, and individuals in areas where health care is difficult to find and access.
GCHC provides a Patient Centered Medical Home where medical and behavioral health clinicians work together to address many concerns including substance use disorder, mental health, housing and shelter, food and other needs. GCHC is a nationally recognized patient centered medical home.