Founded to provide comprehensive outpatient behavioral services to children and families in Nassau County, the South Shore Child Guidance Center (SSCGC) has been improving the lives of children and families for fifty years. Because a child’s life experiences can be difficult on many levels, SSCGC helps navigate these challenges for children from five to 18 years of age, as well as providing services for siblings and parents as needed.
“There is always hope for these children,” said Mary Lou Jones, Executive Director of SSCGC. “We excel at helping these children and families change their lives by becoming stabilized and getting the help they need.”
Cerini: What programs and services does SSCGC offer?
Jones: We have six main programs, the first being our Clinic Program, which provides a range out outpatient services that includes assessment, psychiatric evaluation, treatment, and support, while promoting social and educational development. Second is our C.A.R.E. Center (Children’s Addiction Resource & Education Center), which provides chemical dependency treatment to individuals identified as substance abusers. Third, we have our Home Based Crisis Intervention Program, which provides short-term intensive home-based services to families to prevent psychiatric hospitalization of a child or adolescent. Fourth, our Aftercare Program provides follow up services to children who are discharged from inpatient psychiatric units. There’s our Children’s Mobile Crisis Team, to provide short-term crisis intervention services to help reduce emergency admissions through early crisis intervention. Finally, our School Support II Program provides intervention, evaluation, and counseling services to improve behavioral and academic performance of the child.
Cerini: What new trends has SSCGC noticed?
Jones: We’ve noticed a tremendous amount of child neglect, physical, and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, people now have three jobs instead of one or two, and it is very difficult to get parents involved, especially with the rise of single parent families. We’ve also noticed an influx of El Salvadorian children, coming from a war torn country, where they were exposed to vast amounts of violence and are in need of counsel. Finally, though there is a great deal of talk about health care, mental health is often overlooked. Only five percent of the State’s budget is mental health, which is why we make advocacy one of our main focuses.
Cerini: What is SSCGC most proud of?
Jones: One is our school support program—getting licensed in the school and having that as a satellite program has been a wonderful experience. Also, our co-occurring disorder and awareness screening has really launched. We began implementing an instrument to screen if there was a mental illness behind certain substance abuse problems. Generally, whatever the disorder is underneath, adolescents turn to alcohol or drugs to get relief. Our screening process allows them to get the appropriate medication for their diagnosis to ease the journey to sobriety.
Cerini: What makes SSCGC unique?
Jones: Our ability to work with children, predominantly between the difficult age group of 7 to 16. We believe in hope, advocacy and the labor of love—which is why we join forces with all human service organizations in the effort to make the world a better place for kids and adults.