Natalia Samman

Imagine your child has been struggling for months. Perhaps aggression, perhaps suicidal ideation, perhaps defiance or depression. He is in trouble at school, fighting with siblings, causing stress on your marriage and on the whole family. On top of that, you’re in danger of losing your job from having to take off work to help with crises all the time. You don’t have many supports and the bills are piling up. Finally you get referred for therapy services—only to find out that first you will have to wait 6-8 weeks on a waitlist. You know there is no way you and your child will be able to maintain for that long. The way things have been going, your child may end up in the hospital or in police custody soon, or you may lose your job. You simply cannot wait…

This is the story of hundreds of families across Colorado. The average waitlist for mental health agencies across metro-Denver is about six to eight weeks. In some counties, the wait for services is as long as six months.

At Tennyson we tuned in to this community need—the population of people who have been identified as being in need of services but not yet been able to receive them- and decided to address it. These families are everywhere, they are your neighbors, your colleagues, your classmates, your relatives. At Tennyson we believe in strengthening your entire community through providing needed services for anyone and everyone who goes through that inevitable rough patch. And we provide the services when they are needed—right away. Because we value tending to the needs we see in our community, the #NoKidWaits program was born.

The #NoKidWaits team consists of our Intake Clinician Kristina Crawley, clinician Vicky Giles-Vasquez, and two Family Support Specialists, Monica Collins and Cathy Carreras. Marc Eschler is the Assistant Director and Natalia Samman is the Supervising Clinician. 365 days a year, the team provides services such as individual and family therapy, assessment, and behavioral health counseling. We connect families to needed resources such as utility, legal, and housing assistance. We also help develop a network of social supports for caregivers who would otherwise be completely isolated during their hour of need. We teach parenting skills such as structure and routine, healthy communication, and relationship and attachment building. We develop safety plans and teach crisis de-escalation techniques to reduce risk of hospitalization or police involvement. We provide consultation to school staff and behavioral support in the classrooms. We help families to regain control of their lives and their happiness, and we keep kids out of “the system”.

#NoKidWaits is the initial phase of Community-based services, which are similar but longer-term intensive, home-based therapeutic services. After 6-8 weeks, when a Community-based clinician is able to start long term services with the family, the long-term clinician is able to work with a family that is far safer and more stable, as well as more trusting and willing to work with the therapist. Not only have we provided short term stabilization, we have greatly increased the prognosis that the long term CBS services will be successful over time.

We are now serving nearly sixty families, and with an average of about thirty new referrals coming in per month, it is clear that this program will only continue to grow and expand. No family in need should have to wait months for support. Join us in ensuring that when times are tough and the need is now, #NoKidWaits.

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