by: Malissa Tigges, PsyD.
In a culture obsessed with resiliency, despite being mired in global hardship, the systems in place often make survival an individual effort. Yet so many families in our community are in desperate need of social support, and do not have access to resources to meet even immediate needs, let alone address the root causes of the adversity in their lives. Family Court Services (FCS) has answered this call to action by coordinating and providing critical assistance, counseling, and other resources to children from low-income families, who are suffering through parental conflict and acrimonious litigation.
Although FCS does an amazing job to assist these vulnerable children and families, the agency is severely underfunded, and caseloads are extremely high. KidSide, Inc. has always supported FCS in their goal to assist these families who do not have access to necessary resources by providing funding for the employment of Judicial Service Coordinators and therapists to provide intervention and limited clinical services. However, it is simply not enough to address the sheer number of those in need, especially given the complexity of many of the cases on the docket at this time.
FCS desperately requires more mental health professionals to provide critical therapeutic services. Hence, an exciting fundraising campaign was born, called Amplifying Impact. The idea is to fund the employment of only one position, a Clinical Supervisor and licensed psychologist, who could train and oversee approximately five doctoral level psychology trainees to provide therapeutic services to literally hundreds of families in need. These clinicians are unpaid interns who hold master’s degrees and can provide free therapeutic services while under the auspices of a qualified supervisor. Fund one position; get five clinicians. Truly amplifying the positive impact that FCS and KidSide can have for so many families in need.
The goal of FCS is to empower parents and families to resolve their issues together, with particular support and sensitivity offered to the minor children in the case. Now, with the support of KidSide, FCS can refer any eligible, low-income or indigent clients to the clinical training program, where each individual or family will be provided with 12 free sessions of therapy that has been ordered by the Court. Charitable donations to the Amplifying Impact campaign have fully funded this training program for the 2022 year and will provide for the management and supervision of approximately 5 qualified clinicians, who will serve 10-15 different families each week, and assist approximately 200 to 300 families over the course of the year.
This training program is a mutually beneficial arrangement for KidSide, FCS, the Miami-Dade Court System, the local universities, the families we want to help, and the community at large. Why?
- KidSide saves thousands of dollars by funding the employment of only one position, a Clinical Supervisor, who will supervise multiple therapists, that will provide intervention to hundreds of families referred to FCS.
- FCS benefits by having a site in which they can refer clients who cannot afford Court ordered therapy, and those who require a higher level of intervention or longer-term help. This will alleviate high caseloads at FCS and double the number of families served.
- The Miami-Dade Court System benefits by having more highly qualified therapists available to address and intervene upon the myriad of problems that families involved in the Court system face: mental health issues, substance abuse problems, domestic violence, financial crisis, and child maltreatment.
- Local universities and doctoral level psychology trainees benefit because FCS referrals will provide an amazing opportunity for graduate students to receive specialized training in forensic and child psychology. These clinicians will provide direct services to “real” clients. The focus of the program is on training and skill development is stressed.
- The families served by FCS will benefit from receiving free and necessary therapeutic intervention from appropriately trained, ethical, and professional doctoral level psychology clinicians.
- Finally, the community at large is benefitted because the families served will have continued access to free, life-changing therapeutic services. Without appropriate intervention, these children will be even more vulnerable to long-term damage and significant negative consequences throughout their lives.
KidSide, Inc. has a well-deserved reputation for supporting FCS so that children do not fall through the cracks of the legal system and suffer profound consequences. Without appropriate funding, however, FCS cannot accomplish its goal to assist the extremely high number of families in need. The solution is simple and KidSide, including its amazing donors, have recognized the not only the need, but the remedy. Due to the kindness of strangers and community partners, the psychology training program is fully operational, and will begin receiving cases next week. Doctoral psychology trainees who have applied and been selected for this program are excited to get started and begin providing free clinical services in the format of individual counseling, extended co-parenting, family therapy, and therapeutic supervised visitations. More therapists working to assist FCS means meeting more families’ needs; thereby amplifying the impact to our community.
Thank you to those who have already supported this new initiative and to those who will do so in the future. No one could ever truly know how much these services can do to improve the lives of children in our community. As the saying goes, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller. If even one child’s life is made better for having received critical intervention and support, then KidSide will have accomplished its goal. However, with this campaign and your continued support; not just one child’s life will be improved, but hundreds. Amplifying the impact and promoting positive outcomes in their lives.