youth, family and Substance abuse counseling

Current stats show that 1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental illness or substance abuse problem significant enough to negatively impact their functioning and healthy development.

The impact of substance abuse and mental health issues on children, adolescents and families in Kent and the surrounding communities is of significant concern. Youth and families with these issues are more likely to experience academic failure, behavioral problems, family discord, domestic violence and involvement in the juvenile justice system. In order to address these needs in the community KYFS made a significant number of changes. This year saw the integration of the Substance Abuse Program and the Mental Health Counseling Program into one program. This change is significant because we are the first youth and family agency within King County to provide truly integrated, co-occurring disorder treatment. In addition to the integration, the clinical programs also implemented more evidence based practices and expanded the services offered at the agency.

The integration of the Mental Health Program and Substance Abuse Program is an essential move to keep with changes that are taking place on a state and national level, but also in response to growing research demonstrating that integrated treatment is far more effective than treatment provided by two different programs. In addition to increasing treatment efficacy, integrating the two also leads to increased awareness of the impact of both mental health and substance abuse issues, thereby increasing staff’s ability to respond to the issues that previously would have gone unaddressed. Accordingly, during 2011 the number of youth identified at the time of assessment and during treatment of having more than one diagnosis (co-morbid or multi-morbid) increased significantly.

The second major change that took place in 2011 was the implementation of more evidence-based practices. This is an essential change within Clinical Programs and is in response to the need to provide services that have been demonstrated to be effective across different populations. The most significant practice implemented within the program was the addition of Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in which the majority of staff have been trained and certified. This evidence-based practice was chosen because research demonstrates that the majority of clients seeking services have one or more traumas which is negatively impacting their functioning, and clinicians often feel under-prepared to address this with their clients, resulting in the trauma going untreated. Another evidence-based practice implemented was the utilization of Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach, A-CRA. This evidence-based practice is being used with youth who have substance abuse issues and high levels of criminal involvement.

The final major change that took place in 2011 was the addition of the Infant Mental Health Program. Three staff were trained during the last two years to provide clinically sound services to infants, toddlers and their caregivers. Infant Mental Health is an evidence-based practice that seeks to address problems within the parent-child relationship during the most crucial time which results in the prevention of future problems.

In addition to the changes made throughout the year to enhance and expand programs, we continue to provide high quality professional services at the Agency, in many of the schools in the Kent School District and at Covington City Hall.