ChildSavers was established as the Children's Memorial Clinic nearly 100 years ago in memory of Dr. McGuire Newton, one of Richmond’s first pediatricians. Martha Patteson Bowie (Mrs. Melville C.) Branch connected concerned citizens to create an innovative agency that would help with the “diagnosis and treatment of children for all manner and kind of physical or mental infirmities.” We were one of the first ten child guidance clinics in the United States, and the first in the South, and we are the oldest provider of mental health services for children in the metro Richmond area licensed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. As our knowledge grows and the community changes, we adopt new models and best practices to meet the needs of children. Today, our mission is to guide our community’s children through life’s critical moments with trauma-informed mental health and child development services.
In our Immediate Response program, mental health first aid is provided to children at the scene of a traumatic event. Within the City of Richmond, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, children and teens regularly confront unimaginable trauma (including, but not limited to, homicides, suicides, assaults, domestic violence, sexual assault, and house fires). A clinician is always on call — 24/7, 365 days a year. When notified, the clinician goes immediately to the affected children and looks for signs of agitation, disorientation, and unresponsiveness. The clinician works to validate their emotions, establish their safety, and help them process the event using all their senses.
Outpatient Children's Mental Health Clinic
The ACEs study reveals that childhood trauma increases the risk of mental illness and the adoption of risky behaviors. A child with an ACE score of four out of ten is 242% more likely to smoke, 222% more likely to become obese, 357% more likely to experience depression, and 555% more likely to develop alcoholism. When a child experiences a mental health issue, whether it is organic or caused by trauma, and does not receive the treatment she needs, we all suffer. ChildSavers is a key part of the safety net for all children. Our professional therapists train specifically to address the needs of our core population. They are experts in trauma-informed care and use evidence-based tools to work with children and adolescents ages 2 -18, most of whom are Black and African American and reside in the East End of Richmond. Our typical treatment involves a series of 23 therapy sessions, and at least one visit with our board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. The therapeutic activities are always child-centered, goal-oriented, and involve clients’ families, guardians, and other supporters, as appropriate. Services focus on helping clients work through what has happened to them and to build resiliency to help them during future stressful situations. Demand for our services continues to grow and in response, we are hiring more clinicians to meet this need. During our 2017/2018 program year, we served 485 children with 7,871 outpatient sessions. This year, we expect to serve 575 children with 10,500 outpatient sessions.
Child Development Services
Our CDS program increases the capacity for quality early child education (ECE) by providing training and professional development to ECE providers. Quality ECE settings have a positive impact on cognitive and linguistic competencies, school readiness, school achievement, and social interactions. Increasing training, strengthening business models, and providing mentoring to ECE professionals, secures our children's futures. At the core of our mission is a fundamental commitment to the mental well-being of children and the positive bond between adult and child. Your support would benefit our CDS program which increases the capacity for quality early child education (ECE) by providing training and professional development to ECE providers. In Virginia, 53% of young children were not in an ECE program (KIDS COUNT DATA BOOK 2017). According to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, in the first three years alone, a child’s brain develops one million new neural connections every second. These formative years lay the foundation for learning and health, therefore, it is imperative that children experience nurturing relationships and safe environments in which to grow and learn. Along the way, trauma, poverty, and lack of ECE can disrupt a child’s development. Children born into poverty are more likely to become adults living in poverty and less likely to graduate from high school or remain consistently employed. Quality ECE settings have a positive impact on cognitive and linguistic competencies, school readiness, school achievement, and social interactions. Your support would increase training, solidify business models, and provide mentoring to ECE professionals. This work secures our children's futures. We developed our approach to ECE in the 1980s and have expanded it to encompass the administration and implementation of such state-wide and federal programs as: • ChildCare Aware • USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program • Virginia Quality • Virginia Infant and Toddler Network • Voluntary Registration • Child Development Associate (CDA) credential In FY 2017/2018, we served 6,249 children through Virginia Quality and trained 1,601 child care provides in quality care. We also fed 2,016 children through our USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program. In FY 2018/2019, we will serve 9,500 children with quality early child care, feed 3,500 healthy meals through our Food Program, and provided 2,000 early child care providers with train and professional development.