John Vining is director of the program, which has been in this community for three years. The first two years, it operated under the umbrella of the Bradley-Cleveland Services, but as of January 2011, it is now affiliated with the newly-created non-profit Center for Relational Health.
BCS wanted to devote their energies to working with the mentally challenged clientele they have at their center, where they do tremendously great work,” Vining said. So, YCS spun off on its own under the new non-profit organization.
Vining said it is important to keep the program alive as it serves such a definite need in the community.
“The purpose and objective of Youth Counseling Services has always been to target children and youth, most of whom come from families that have certain circumstances that make it impossible for them to get adequate mental health services,” he explained.
Vining said most of the youth seen at YCS come from economically disadvantaged families, many without insurance or if they have insurance, it is usually TennCare.
He added the youth also come from broken homes, from homes where the child may only sporadically see his mother or father, or where they live with grandparents because neither parent is around.
“There are many issues that these children may be dealing with, and we want to help them,” he said. “We are also seeing more children with ADHD in our office.”
However, funding has always been an issue. Three years ago, when it was first started, organizers applied for and received a grant from United Way of Bradley County. This is the third year that YCS has received such a grant, made possible through the Bradley Memorial Health Endowment Fund.
“Without the United Way grant for these three years, this place would be non-existent,” Vining said.
The grant, added with what insurance payments the center receives, has helped Vining make sure that quality care is provided. He said that YCS has had up to four Doctoral level counselors, five Masters level counselors who are licensed, three Masters level counselors working toward their licensure and six interns working in the program.
These individuals have cut their fees dramatically to allow the YCS to be able to survive, and Vining himself donates much of his time through bartering his services to others to make sure that the center can provide quality counseling.
“I am trying to be as creative as possible, within professional standards, so we can see as many people as possible and give more good service,” he said.
In January alone, YCS counselors were involved in 222 sessions. “We stay really busy,” Vining noted.
Youth Counseling Services receives referrals from the local school systems, from juvenile court and from some Employee Assistance Programs within the business community.
“As we are getting more well known, we are also receiving referrals from doctors, and from pastors, in our community,” he added.
Matt Ryerson, Vice president for Community Investment Strategies for United Way of Bradley County, said it is important for these services to be available in our community.
“Through our needs assessment, we recognized that mental health issues are a priority, particularly with youth, and this program answers that call,” Ryerson said. “A focus on youth, such as this, is unheard of here in our community, in Tennessee and quite frankly, unheard of nationally for the most part.”
Vining said it is a segment of the community that will continue to have needs and that the Youth Counseling Services wants to continue to serve.
“The unfortunate thing is the societal trend and experiences that produce a lot of our clients don't seem to be getting any better. There are going to be broken homes and dysfunctional children from these homes, so the need is always going to be there,” he stressed.
“We at Youth Counseling Services want to help these children as much as we possibly can.”
To find out more about Youth Counseling Services, call (423) 476-1933.