'Help families:' Next Step Clinic, winner of Marquette's first-ever 'President’s Challenge' opens

MILWAUKEE -- The earlier children are diagnosed with things like autism -- the earlier they can start getting help. But people living in inner cities often face barriers to getting that critical diagnosis.

Amy Van Hecke

The Next Step Clinic, the recipient of the inaugural Marquette University President’s Challenge in 2019, hosted its grand opening on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at its location within the Family Success Center of the Next Door Foundation.

"The Next Step Clinic is designed to help families have access to developmental and mental health services in the city. In the past, families have had to go very far outside of the city and there are long waiting lists to get their children seen," said Amy Van Hecke, Next Step Clinic Executive Co-Director.

The clinic offers family navigation and developmental assessment services and trauma-focused therapies for children and families.

Next Door Foundation

The Next Step Clinic

Through the President’s Challenge, President Lovell and the Johnson Controls Foundation committed to awarding a $250,000, two-year grant to Next Step, allowing it to address an area of neighborhood inequity through an interdisciplinary approach.

Michael Lovell

"We started the President's Challenge to have faculty and staff and students from the university kind of turn their talents towards solving community problems," said Michael Lovell, president of Marquette University.

As the children who walk into his clinic get help -- they will also be helping Marquette students. The clinic will provide real-world experience for multiple departments. From psychology students helping with evaluations -- to communications students who helped design the logo.

"There are 7 different departments within Marquette that are here. All of the students involved and being trained in this. Really, what we're generating, is the next generation of practitioners," said Lovell.

The Next Step Clinic

Next Door Foundation

Right now, the clinic is only offering evaluations for autism. They hope to start mental health services this fall.

The clinic is currently operating as a free clinic while it's funded by grants. The plan is for it then to transition to a Medicaid model.