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Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester Discusses Mental Health Initiatives at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware

Last week Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester visited our Western Sussex Club to discuss the importance of addressing mental health, and why the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware applied for the Community Project Funding application for FY23 that would invest in Delaware’s youth mental health services. If approved, this federal funding would support three master’s-level (MSW or LCSW) social workers/mental health professionals to support youth and their families served by our Clubs in each county.

Delaware ranks 30th in the nation in child well-being. Children are still suffering from the Mental Health Pandemic according to Kids Count Data 2022. We, at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware are responding to this dire need by starting the Youth Support Services Program (YSSP). We are grateful to have received seed funding from Highmark that has helped start this program. We have established a Youth Support Services Steering Committee that meets regularly to plan and implement services to meet the needs of our youth and their families.

YSSP will focus on using Trauma Informed Care approaches to service delivery to our members. Three master’s level mental health professionals, one per each county will provide individual, group and family counseling. They will also facilitate trauma informed care training for staff across the state and building capacity. The goal is for BGCDE to become a trauma informed agency as declared by Gov. Carney’s executive order 24 making Delaware a trauma informed state.

Rep. Rochester spoke with Dr. Hiraesave, Senior Executive Director of Grants Development, who is head of the program, about the steps the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware is taking to provide mental health services. “The FY 23 Congressionally Directed Funding we have requested through Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester’s office would be an incredible support to help establish and expand the Boys & Girls Club’s youth support services. The impact this funding will make on the mental health and overall well-being of our communities will result in a healthier Delaware”.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, investing in youth mental health services has never been more important,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester.

During her time at the club, Rep. Blunt Rochester spoke with Club Director, Chris Couch and Youth Development Professionals Elysha Mason and Alexus Dover about what they were seeing on a day-to-day basis in the Clubs. They spoke of the increasing number of the youth that come from unpredictable living situations. Combined with the learning and social implications of the pandemic, there is a large need for our Youth Support Services team.

Before leaving, Rep. Rochester took a tour of the Western Sussex Club. She was impressed with the overflowing garden, and even had a fresh tomato off the vine before taking a tour of our state-of-the-art prep kitchen used to provide 1,500 meals to our youth each day.

“We are so glad that Congresswoman Rochester took a tour or the mini farm", said Suchi. "It serves as a live laboratory for our kids to experience where the food comes from, how to grow their own food, understand the nutrition value of eating fresh food, respecting our environment, and much more. Walking through the berries; vegetables, herbs, and floral, patches is a great de-stressor. In this mental health pandemic we currently are in, this is an activity to help create personal positive outcomes”.

Congresswoman Rochester said that we have made it through the first phase and she hopes to have it voted on in the Senate this fall and inform us of the results. We sincerely thank her for recognizing the need for mental health services for kids and supporting ourefforts.


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