Connecting With Care in Low-Income Boston Neighborhoods

Dates of Project: July 2006 through December 2011

Field of Work: Delivering school-based mental health services

Problem Synopsis: Children in low-income neighborhoods in Boston generally lack access to much-needed mental health services.

Synopsis of the Work: From 2006 through 2011, the Connecting With Care project of the Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention brought full-time mental-health clinicians to schools in the low-income Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester and Roxbury.

"The schools previously had a part-time drop-in model and they thought putting full-time clinicians in the schools would be cost-prohibitive; that they'd need a $25,000 subsidy. We convinced them that we could come in with a much lower number. The ramp-up cost can be higher, but it comes down if they hang in there." —Robert Kilkenny, executive director of the Alliance for Inclusion & Prevention.

Key Results

  • Provided mental health treatment to 486 children in seven schools

  • Demonstrated that it was economically feasible to have full-time clinicians in schools

  • Trained 128 clinicians, teachers, and other school personnel in treating trauma and other children's mental health conditions

  • Initiated the first school-based trauma systems therapy program in the United States. Trauma systems therapy is a treatment framework that targets children who have difficulty managing their emotions as a result of prior traumatic experiences.

For refugees from Somali who live in Boston, "Walking through the portal that says 'mental disease' is a big step. There is a gigantic stigma."—Robert Kilkenny, executive director of the Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention.

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RWJF grantee demonstrates an affordable way to deploy full-time, mental-health clinicians in public schools.