Bergen County Schools Benefit From Therapeutic Programming

UMSBergen county school districts have an opportunity to contract with Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus”) in the 2015-2016 school year to receive custom-tailored therapeutic services to create an optimal environment for student health and success.

CarePlus school-based programming works closely with school administration to provide necessary services and meet the requirements of each unique student body. There are a variety of programs available to satisfy the needs of each district including individual counseling, educational support groups, school clearances, case management, wrap-around resources and more.

“Engaging youth in positive activities to enhance their growth and provide counseling and intervention can be extremely challenging,” explained Tara Augustine, Senior Vice President of Children and Family Services at CarePlus. “It’s our goal to create access to an environment within the school that’s safe and free of stigma, while offering structured recreation, psycho-education, skill-building, and therapy from experienced professionals.”

The CarePlus school-based programs assists school administration by creating awareness around important social issues such as bullying, suicide prevention, substance use education, and healthy relationships. By accounting for mental health issues within the student body, the on-site therapeutic support also allows for school staff to focus on primary tasks throughout the school day.

Each program is staffed by professionals that are experienced in youth development, therapy, and case management and all services are backed by the CarePlus mission to help people foster and develop healthy minds and healthy bodies. Children and parents also get access to a complete spectrum of care through CarePlus, a fully-licensed and accredited mental health care organization, providing services to the community since 1978.

The first CarePlus School Based Youth Services Program started at Manchester Regional High School and opened in 2005. Through this program, CarePlus has been able to provide year-round prevention programming, counseling and recreation. Services are open to the entire student body, making mental health care easily accessible. The CarePlus team has developed a strong collaboration with MRHS administration and faculty to ensure the students receive the services that they need.

In addition to Manchester, CarePlus has school-based programs in River Edge, New Milford, Ramsey, and Irvington. The newest of these programs are developing at Ramsey High School and University Middle School in Irvington. Since each school community is unique, each of these programs looks different through custom-tailoring.

The fun and creative atmosphere at the ‘Falcon’s Lounge’ at MRHS inspired the staff at University Middle School, which recently began their school-based therapeutic program with CarePlus. This particular room was designed by Norellen Stokley Interiors, and was funded by a grant from the school designated to initiate counseling services in the school to support children’s success in the school setting. Other schools have the option to utilize grants, fundraising, and donations of time, supplies, or creative energy to decorate these safe spaces for students.

“It is the schools where the kids spend most of their day,” Augustine continues, “so we want to bring services to them so that mental health care is accessible to all kids in the county.”

Bringing these services into the schools will make mental health care available for children and their families. Students receive the benefits of a more positive school environment, and families also have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of services that CarePlus offers for adults, children, and families. Some of these services include a 24-hour emergency help line, in-home services, outpatient programs, support groups, community outreach and education.