Posted: 7/18/2023 14:21:04
Modified: 7/18/2023 14:20:35
Funded by a $100,000 US Department of Justice grant, a new after-school program will be available for North Quabbin youth who have been affected by a parent or guardian with a substance use disorder.
Beginning at the beginning of the school year in the fall, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin will offer an eight-week trauma-informed art therapy group and individual therapy sessions for these students in the school district. Athol-Royalston Regional. Services are provided by master’s degree mental health clinicians and art therapists with specialized training in working with children and youth affected by trauma.
The Children’s Advocacy Center was one of 10 organizations nationwide to receive a highly targeted grant from the program, “Protecting Futures: Building Capacity to Serve Children and Youth Affected by America’s Drug Crisis.”
“There is a nationwide mental health crisis and access to youth and adolescent services is extremely limited,” Athol-Royalston Regional School District Superintendent Matthew Ehrenworth said in a statement. “Given the geographic location of our towns and the severity of substance use/abuse in our region, this has had a magnified effect on our children. We currently have waiting lists for our students to interact with physicians.
“This program will provide a wonderful avenue to provide therapeutic services to some of our students with the greatest need,” he added.
Children’s Advocacy Center executive director Jeffrey Trant said the eight-week art therapy group will take place eight times over two academic years and will serve about eight children each session. The plan also includes offering ongoing and individualized services.
“For many children and youth who have experienced traumatic events and have never been in therapy before, talk therapy can be a challenging model,” Trant explained. “We thought [art therapy] It was a research-backed way to start looking at how we can engage with this population of kids who have experienced a number of different traumatic events … and help them develop coping skills that are supportive and non-threatening.”
Trant stressed the importance of the partnership between the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Franklin County/North Quabbin Opioid Task Force, particularly at a time when the region has fewer overdose deaths than the rest of the state. Overdose deaths in Franklin County fell 25% from 2021 to 2022, which Opioid Task Force officials attribute to an overdose tracking and disclosure program it launched in 2021 known as CONNECT.
“This project will provide a vital therapeutic resource to North Quabbin and help expand the services that are available to children affected by the drug crisis,” said Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, who co-chairs the Task Force on opioids.
Trant said the Greenfield-based Children’s Advocacy Center is really “encouraged” by the partnership with the Opioid Task Force.
“The task force has done a landlord job helping to support the community,” he said. “This is a natural extension of the really important work that the task force has done to help those who have been directly or indirectly affected.”
Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.