MILWAUKEE, WI – (November 17, 2020) — Christian Family Solutions (CFS) has signed a five-year agreement to lease the Holton Youth and Family Center (HYFC) and will move its STRONG Child and Adolescent Day Treatment Program into the building at 510 East Burleigh Street in Milwaukee in December. Several tenants will continue operating youth-oriented programs in the building, which will be managed by CFS.
The STRONG program is Milwaukee’s only in-person day treatment program for children ages 5 to 14 who face significant behavioral and mental health issues. STRONG provides intensive mental health services for children who struggle with impulse control, emotional regulation, communicating, and coping as a result of trauma or other underlying mental health issues. Children who exhibit these symptoms and receive mental health treatment are much less likely to face suspensions or expulsions in school and learn to form positive relationships.
“We’re seeing more and more systemic mental health issues in the city as the stress of virtual school, financial uncertainty, isolation, and other factors take their toll,” says Dr. Ashley Schoof, director of STRONG and southeast Wisconsin clinical director for Christian Family Solutions. “If it were not for STRONG, Milwaukee children would have to leave the city to access mental healthcare, and many would not do it. They would go untreated, and the ripple effect on the community is enormous. Treating children so they can build positive relationships and stay in school has enormous positive impact in the community, now and for generations to come.”
Since its inception in 2016, the STRONG program has operated on school campuses, relocating each time either the school or the STRONG program required more space. STRONG currently serves children from its clinic on the North Campus of St. Marcus School at 2669 N Richards St, in Milwaukee, where census is typically 30 children. The new location will allow STRONG to grow to serve 50-60 children at any given time.
“The Holton building will be a more stable home for STRONG as the need for mental health treatment continues to escalate in Milwaukee,” says Dr. Schoof. “We are gratefully building on the wonderful work of the Holton Youth and Family Center to meet the city’s current and future needs.”
The HYFC has played a central role in the revitalization of the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods in Milwaukee. It was founded in 1989 by a group of concerned citizens who involved business owners, law enforcement, youth, and philanthropists to address gang violence and youth crime. The Center was operated in partnership with the YMCA from 1994 until 2008, when the YMCA left the facility.
According to Mario Costantini, chair of the HYFC board of directors, the Holton Youth and Family Center has engaged thousands of Milwaukee youth in positive programming through the years, changing the trajectory of the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods. Crime has decreased and businesses have begun investing in the area once again.
“We accomplished this as a community, by building relationships and providing a safe environment for youth to grow right here in their own neighborhood,” says Costantini. “Now, as the needs of the community evolve, we have been looking for partners who could meet those needs with impact for decades to come. STRONG came highly recommended to us. We are so pleased that the Center will continue to be a safe place to strengthen our youth and families for years to come.”
With the help of generous donors, CFS is renovating the Holton facility to meet the needs of the STRONG program. An open house event is planned for January, during which further plans for the facility will be provided.
The STRONG program accepts family or professional referrals and serves children with both commercial and state insurance. Inquiries and referrals can be made by calling the Christian Family Solutions referral appointment line at 800.438.1772.