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Connecticut child crisis centers ready for new year

by: Eva Zymaris | WTNH News 8

Posted: Aug 29, 2023 / 05:53 PM EDT

Updated: Aug 30, 2023 / 03:22 AM EDT

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Students across Connecticut are heading back to school. But, the transition from home to the classroom can be challenging, especially after a difficult few years.

At The Village for Families & Children in Hartford, staff stand ready to help. The center has already seen 21 families and children, according to Amy Samela, the vice president of residential programs.

It’s one of four urgent crisis centers now open statewide. Those centers are operated by:

  • The Village for Families and Children in Hartford

  • Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven

  • The Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut in New London

  • Wellmore Behavioral Health in Waterbury

These centers hope to address the mental health needs of children and teens, such as thoughts of suicide or self-injury and feelings of depression or anxiety. They’re readying for more students to come in.

“We anticipate our numbers getting higher and higher as school starts,” Samela said.

During the pandemic, emergency departments were packed and overwhelmed. These crisis centers help alleviate that and provide young people with immediate access to resources.

“Getting used to getting up early, getting used to getting dinner on the table, getting used to doing homework: all of that can be chaotic and stressful,” said Kristin Pracitto, the vice president of child services at Wellmore Behavioral Health. “And stressful as you settle into it.”

Mobile crisis support is also available by dialing United Way’s 211 resource hotline.

Statewide, these centers have helped about 60 kids so far. No appointments or referrals are necessary.

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