Bedroom at Elmcrest's new facility

Safeguarding a Sanctuary: Elmcrest Offers Mental Health Services to Youth

Originally established as an orphanage in 1845, Elmcrest offered children protection and safety. As time passed, and the population of orphans decreased, Elmcrest refocused its efforts to supporting children with psychological, emotional, and educational challenges.

It’s no secret that there are multiple facets to an individual’s health. While physical health may often take precedence, mental and emotional well-being are integral to the quality of one’s life – especially at a young age. However, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that depression and anxiety have nearly doubled since the onset of the pandemic, posing unique and difficult challenges for teens nationwide. This, compounded with the increased need for mental health resources in Central New York, has created a complex mental health crisis for teens and adults.

“The numbers keep going up and up,” said Dr. Wanda Fremont, vice chair of the child and adolescent psychiatry clinic at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. “There’s just no place for them to go.”

Despite the obstacles however, Elmcrest, a children’s support facility, has been promoting and recognizing the need for mental and educational services for youth in Central New York.

Originally established as an orphanage in 1845, Elmcrest offered children protection and safety. As time passed, and the population of orphans decreased, Elmcrest refocused its efforts to supporting children with psychological, emotional, and educational challenges, and began offering special needs support in 1980. In the years since, Elmcrest has established itself as a leader in youth development and provides housing and education for children and parents.

Recently, Elmcrest began renovating its buildings to accommodate the addition of two six-bed residences to house children in its mental health crisis respite program. These are designed as a haven for youth in crisis who may not have a place to go but do not need hospitalization.

Patrick Casey, Elmcrest’s Associate Director of Programming has spearheaded the respite program. “At the respite centers,  youth will receive professional counseling, individual therapy, family therapy and support, group therapy, recreation, and respite until the child can return home. They may stay for up to three weeks.”

The Central New York Community Foundation has provided Elmcrest with a $150,000 Community Grant that assisted with the renovations and construction of the center. Elmcrest partnered with officials at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and consulted with Children’s Home of Jefferson County and Hutchings Psychiatric Center to help with the completion of the project. Renovations were completed and Heron Hall and White Pines Hall opened March 27th of this year.  

Elmcrest specializes in helping children at risk face major life challenges. Their residential and community-based services provide on-campus provide a path to a better future for youth who have experienced trauma or have emotional, behavioral, or developmental challenges. In addition, adolescents struggling with a drug and/or alcohol dependency and demonstrating a need for an integrated treatment approach, have access to its Adolescent Chemical Dependency Program. The program aims to motivate a decision and commitment to change – and to support success in implementing the desired changes.

Elmcrest also operates Casey’s Place, respite services for children with severe developmental disabilities or complex medical issues. Children are welcomed into a safe, nurturing, accessible environment while they receive assistance developing socialization skills and peer relationships. Casey’s Place also provides children with opportunities to engage in group recreational activities in the community while providing a much-needed break for parents from 24-hour care.

Elmcrest is a leader in offering inclusive and accessible early education and childcare for historically marginalized communities. Their early education programs in day care and pre-K have an emphasis on children with developmental disabilitiesthose  in poverty and New Americans. Elmcrest offers assistance for families in preventing and reducing the likelihood of foster care for children and parents.

“As research shows, engagement in a high level of visits reduces trauma and builds resiliency for youth who are in care, and leads to a higher rate of reunification,” Elmcrest’s website reads. “Focusing on these components and the collaboration with the county has resulted in a greater positive impact on the community.”

Elmcrest cares for more than 2500 children on an annual basis from some 19 counties in CNY. The agency is a leading not-for profit at work continuing to uplift and recognize the needs of children for 178 years, and we are honored to support the organization in its endeavors.

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