Center for Childhood Resilience

The Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR) is a regional organization promoting access to high quality mental health services for children and adolescents statewide through clinical service, research, training, advocacy and policy reform. Housed within one of the nation’s top pediatric hospitals, the Center is uniquely positioned to advance innovative and evidence-based strategies and solutions to address comprehensive mental health reform and build a trauma-informed city and state.

Mental Health Access Remains a Problem for Many Children & Youth

Our current system of mental health services is not adequately meeting the increasing needs of children and youth in Chicago and across the state. On average, only 25% of children in need of mental health services get the help that they need. Of those receiving mental health care, 70-80% receive treatment in a school setting. Research suggests that schools may function as the de facto mental health system for children and adolescents (Center for Health and Behavioral Health in Schools, 2012).

A Public Health Approach to Tackle a Growing Issue

Research shows that preventive behavioral health improves positive behavior and reduces negative behavior in children and adolescents. A public health approach to mental health is embedded in a broader idea of promoting mental wellness, health and resilience that impacts functioning across multiple areas for youth including academically, socially, and in later years, professionally.

Understanding the importance of social-emotional wellness and resiliency building strategies is imperative for adults who work with youth. The CCR trains school and clinical professionals, as well as community agencies, how to use innovative and evidence-based approaches when working with children who have experienced trauma. The CCR also works with community leaders and policy makers to ensure statewide systems and resources support best practices in behavioral health.

Our model of care centers on what is needed in a child’s life to build their resiliency. Children who are resilient are better able to cope with challenges, manage stress and make healthy choices. Building resiliency in children begins with ensuring their mental health needs are being met.

Our Tactics for Improving Children’s Mental Health Access

For over a decade, the CCR has provided training, education and outreach to school professionals, community health agencies, city leaders and parents, increasing youth access to mental health services. The CCR has worked to identify clear strategies for helping children connect with the mental health care they need, ensuring providers were implementing effective programming, and identifying new interventions to address emerging mental health needs of children and youth statewide. Critical to developing these strategies is a commitment to ensuring the fidelity and sustainability of the models of care that were implemented. 

Utilizing a public health approach to expanding access to mental health services, allows the CCR to address mental health reform holistically, including:

  • School mental health – Working with school staff, clinicians, administrators and community organizations to build better access to mental health services for children and adolescents.
  • Trauma training – Teaching professionals who work with children, trauma-informed best practices.
  • Research – Identifying, evaluating and disseminating intervention best practices.
  • Pre-professional mental health training – Training new generations of clinical professionals in the public health approach to mental health.
  • Advocacy and policy – Leading advocacy and policy work to ensure statewide systems and resources support best practices in behavioral health.

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