For Bader Philanthropies Inc., a $100,000 grant to Christian Family Solutions is right in its wheelhouse of bolstering Milwaukee and enhancing youth development.
“They work with families, and that’s really what we believe in,” said Daniel J. Bader, president and chief executive of Bader Philanthropies.
Christian Family Solutions will use the grant to hire additional counselors and expand mental health services for Milwaukee students at 18 schools.
The organization is part of Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Service, which is affiliated with but not financially supported by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
“We are just so honored and obviously very blessed to be part of this grant process,” said Mark Klug, chief executive officer of Christian Family Solutions. “Bader really has provided us with substantial additional resources to help us with this school-based counseling and day treatment that we have in central Milwaukee.”
Counselors see students with a range of mental health issues and behaviors.
“When we provide structure it can make a real impact to get these kids back in school,” Klug said. “Early treatment and intervention is the key. We have a much better success rate than if they delay treatment. The longer they delay the poorer the outcomes.
“We’re seeing kids under 5 to age 14. We can also work with adolescents in outpatient programs,” he said.
Besides providing treatment on school campuses, the organization also has a more intensive outpatient day therapy program called STRONG (Successfully Treating and Reaching Our Next Generation).
That program operates at the north campus of St. Marcus Lutheran School and aims to help those students who face difficulties such as anxiety and depression, often caused by trauma.
“Success is when we really see that the kids are able to function again in the classroom,” said Ashley Schoof, the organization’s program director of Wisconsin Child and Adolescent Services.
Success, she said, is also measured when parents and guardians discover that their children “are able to seek joy.”
Charonne Ganiere’s 7-year-old son Judah is in the intensive program. Judah is one of three children she and her husband adopted.
“He has pretty significant anxiety and the background of trauma from his early years,” she said. “There was a time where I felt like we had lost our son. He was stuck inside himself.”
But through STRONG he is making strides, she said, giving him skills to cope, and showing him that “other adults love and care about him.”
“In so many ways I feel like STRONG gave us our son back,” she said.
The coronavirus pandemic did not stop the work of the organization. Even though schools were shut, counselors were able to see students through telehealth services.
The STRONG program reopened June 1 for in-person day treatment.
The organization has plans to move forward with treatment in the upcoming school year, whether classes are online or in person.
In all, Christian Family Solutions plans to serve at least 600 students during the upcoming school year.