The United States has one of the worst records among developed countries worldwide when it comes to child abuse, losing on average four to seven children daily to child abuse and neglect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s why Children’s Bureau, a nonprofit leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect in Southern California, is expanding its services to the Santa Clarita Valley.
“As a resident and someone who has worked in community mental health in Santa Clarita for a long time, I know very clearly the huge need this community has for these services,” said Susan Wood, director of mental health at Children’s Bureau.
They celebrated the opening of their new outpatient therapy office in Valencia last month, which will provide mental health services to children, age 0 to 21, and their families.
“It’s really just meeting the needs of this community,” Wood said. “If we could prevent mental illness or at least prevent some of it, we would be much better off. That’s always been our goal — to try and do the early intervention.”
The office is staffed with 14 therapists and has five therapy rooms, but Children’s Bureau doesn’t just provide office-based services, they also go to local schools in the Newhall and William S. Hart school districts and offer in-home services to families as well.
“The biggest challenge with working with this population of lower socioeconomic (families) is either they can’t get to the services or there’s a stigma about it,” Wood said. “So sometimes making it more accessible to them decreases that stigma or the likelihood that they’ll turn it away because there is a big stigma to mental illness.”
While Children’s Bureau provides a number of services, their Santa Clarita office will focus mainly on the treatment of children using evidence-based practices, which have been proven to be really effective with children who haven’t had therapy before, according to Wood.
The center will soon have a psychiatrist for medication services and already offers therapy in English, Spanish and Farsi. The only requirement is that families must have MediCal insurance to qualify for services.
“It’s been a big year for Children’s Bureau,” said Marketing Coordinator Monica Carranza. “Now we’re at 20 sites all across Southern California.”
With the latest expansion, Children’s Bureau is now able to help more than 40,000 children and families annually throughout Southern California, Carranza said.
Children’s Bureau also offers a comprehensive foster care and adoption program, so in honor of May being National Foster Care Month, the Valencia office will be holding a foster care information meeting on Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. until noon for those who would like to learn more about what it takes to foster a child.
The Children’s Bureau office is located at 27200 Tourney Road, Suite 175, in Valencia. For more information, visit all4kids.org or call 661-705-4670.