Youth community center acquired by Clifford Beers Children’s Mental Health Clinic

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Clifford Beers Children’s Mental Health Clinic will take over Farnam House, with plans to fill their programming and connect local youth to new services.


Journalist


Sylvan Lebrun, collaborating photographer

Last Thursday, New Haven Children’s Mental Health Clinic Clifford Beers officially announced it will acquire Farnam House, a neighborhood center that provides educational and recreational services to area youth.

Discussions between Clifford Beers and Farnam House for the merger began about a year ago and have built on their long history of working together in the New Haven community. This merger is driven in part by Farnam House’s budget constraints as a small non-profit organization and will provide them with access to large-scale resources and infrastructure to continue delivering their programming. The move also represents the continuation of Clifford Beers’ efforts to collaborate with other youth service organizations amid the pandemic. The legal incorporation of Farnam House into Clifford Beers will officially take place on July 1.

“I hope this gives us the opportunity – this meeting – to truly improve the lives of the children we work with, their families and our community,” said Rochelle Cummings, Clifford Board Chair. Beers. . “You can see that families have gone through such a difficult time during the COVID pandemic. “

The primary function of Clifford Beers is to provide clinical mental health services to children at their multiple sites in New Haven. However, the organization is also involved in numerous outreach projects, targeting what CEO Alice Forrester calls the “social determinants of health”.

To this end, Clifford Beers has led initiatives focused on community violence, education, housing and access to basic needs. During the pandemic, one of those efforts was coordinating a collective of learning centers across New Haven, where students can receive help with distance learning and socialize with their peers.

Forrester linked this work with the Learning Centers to the new merger with Farnam House, citing the two as examples of Clifford Beers’ push to connect local youth with educational and social support amid the challenges of the pandemic.

Farnam Neighborhood House is a non-profit neighborhood center serving youth in the greater New Haven area. In addition to running a full-time preschool for the youngest, he offers recreational activities including basketball, swimming lessons and martial arts at his building in Fair Haven. He also has a 72-acre summer camp in Durham, according to executive director Jamell Cotto. After the merger, these two properties will be owned by Clifford Beers.

According to Forrester, Clifford Beers and Farnam House have a history of working together. She recalled that the former executive director of Farnam House, Elizabeth Gambardella, “took [Forrester] under his wing ”while Forrester was still working as an associate director.

The merger seemed like a natural step, Forrester said, as Farnam House’s focus on recreation and early childhood care is in line with Clifford Beers’ goal of supporting “preventative activities” that improve health. mental youth. Cotto also highlighted the “shared passion” of the two organizations for improving the quality of life of children and families.

Another benefit of the merger is that Farnam House will be connected to a significantly larger resource pool that will support its programming. According to Forrester, Farnam House currently only has a budget the size of a “small program at Clifford Beers”.

“The operating environment for Connecticut nonprofits has become extremely difficult, which has limited our ability to expand our programs,” Cotto wrote in an email to News. “By joining Clifford Beers, we will have the resources to grow. … We will also be able to connect our families to the many Clifford Beers services that meet the growing needs of the Fair Haven community.

Cummings echoed this, saying that after the merger Farnam House will be able to leverage Clifford Beers’ larger-scale departments for data analytics, human resources and accounting.

Going forward, according to Cotto and Forrester, the two organizations plan to devote their energy to continuing and strengthening Farnam House’s previous programming, while also focusing on connecting their respective customer bases to the services of the other group.

According to Cummings, one of the immediate goals of this merger is to support Farnam House in reopening its youth summer camp program in Durham. This camp was last opened in 2018, before being closed due to storm damage.

Forrester told The News that Clifford Beers vice president of health and safety facilities will undertake renovations at Camp Farnam and plan to reopen this summer or summer 2022.

Over the next few months, Cotto said, the two organizations will be holding a number of meetings with local parents and community members to get feedback on how they should orient their future work to better meet client needs. .

“My hope is that [the merger] will break down the silos between services, ”said Forrester. “So that a child can play basketball and get the therapy they need. Or a family whose child needs to be ready for school and needs help with the rent may turn to someone for these resources. So they don’t have to go to totally different organizations to be able to figure it out, but that we connect… and network to help them get what they need.

The Clifford Beers Clinic, founded in 1913, was the first outpatient mental health clinic in the United States.




SYLVAN LEBRUN




Sylvan Lebrun reports on the town hall. She previously covered nonprofit organizations and social services in the New Haven area. She is a second year student at Pauli Murray College majoring in English.

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