$100K grant helping expand services, 'transform the trajectory' for youth therapy program

MILWAUKEE -- From the COVID-19 pandemic to movements surrounding racial justice, the past several months have been challenging for many.

Dr. Ashley Schoof

But a local grant is helping children better adapt to the changes, and the new money that grant provides will help keep them healthy.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused Dr. Ashley Schoof to check in with patients via telehealth. Schoof is the clinical director of the STRONG day treatment program with Christian Family Solutions.

The program provides trauma-informed and culturally-sensitive therapies to Milwaukee children. Now, it's able to expand services thanks to a $100,000 grant from Bader Philanthropies.

"We were able to hire three more staff members, three more therapists which will increase the amount of children we are able to serve in the community," said Schoof.

Mt. Lebanon Lutheran School

The unique program also provides outpatient services on-site at 18 different urban schools in Milwaukee. Ruth Bourman, a K-5 teacher at Mt. Lebanon Lutheran School, said the CFS partnership is a game-changer.

Ruth Bourman

"Scholars come back into my classroom ready to go and ready to learn," Bourman said. "She connects with our scholars so they can be successful."

Identifying signs of struggling is the first part, with a proactive approach to building relationships and giving tools, it breaks through barriers.

"Its been a place of refuge and learning and support just like what he needed and what we need to be able to help him get through this rough patch," Charonne Ganiere, whose 7-year-old son works with the program. "STRONG does provide a place to continue those conversations in a safe setting."

Charonne Ganiere

Ganiere sought help for her son earlier this year and continued their resources and guidance through the pandemic and recent unrest -- helping bolster communication and confidence, which are critical.

"This is something that could transform the trajectory of their schooling their overall daily life," said Schoof.

The STRONG program has now reopened for in-person day treatment, but CFS will continue to offer services in summer. The organization plans to serve 600 or more students during the 2020-2021 school year.