KidsPeace and Lehigh County (PA) have announced a new partnership to expand and enhance a key tool for families facing a mental health challenge or crisis. The partnership will support KidsPeace’s offering of free walk-in mental health assessments at its Lehigh County clinics on Green Street in Allentown and the Broadway Campus in Fountain Hill.
Under the program families can have a child or adult assessed by a clinical professional free of charge and without an appointment, and receive a safety screening, risk assessment and a safety plan, as well as recommendations on further care.
KidsPeace Executive Director of PA Community Programs Chris Ferry noted that the free assessments have been provided by the non-profit organization as a community service, without regard to the individual’s ability to pay or insurance status. Now, under the partnership with Lehigh County, the cost of assessments provided to its residents will be reimbursed by the county.
“The walk-in assessment program costs upwards of $40,000 a year for the two clinics – a cost KidsPeace has borne from its own reserves since we started the assessments ten years ago,” Ferry noted. “This agreement ensures we will be able to continue to provide individuals in our community the care they need, at the moment they need it the most.”
In addition, the county will fund a new case manager position for the assessments program, who will help families get recommended services after their assessment is completed. And Lehigh County will provide funding for telehealth services for those county residents assessed under the program who are on extended waitlists for specific follow-up care.
Joshua Bridges, Lehigh County Administrator for Mental Health, Intellectual Disabilities, Early Intervention Services, and Drug & Alcohol, said the enhanced walk-in assessment program from KidsPeace is a vital part of the community’s response to the mental and behavioral health needs of its citizens – in part, because finding one’s way through the various available program options is difficult for many parents.
“One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an increase in the number of cases of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues among our children. We receive calls from parents who are frustrated as they try to navigate the system on their own to get help for their children. We are committed to eliminating barriers to care for our residents where we can, and that’s why we’re pleased to work with a partner like KidsPeace to address this need,” he said.
Since its inception in 2013, KidsPeace’s walk-in assessment program has helped nearly 6,000 families, children and adults find appropriate care for individuals who are suffering a mental health crisis, while at the same time diverting those cases from traditional hospital emergency departments.
If you or your family are facing a mental health crisis, free walk-in assessments are available during business hours at the following KidsPeace locations:
Green Street Clinic
801 E. Green St.
Allentown, Pa 18109
Family Center at Broadway Campus
Bethlehem, PA 18015