CLEARFIELD – With 40 years of service under its belt, CenClear Child Services adapts to continue providing services during the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to JoAnn Seltzer, CenClear public relations specialist, and Chief Executive Officer Pauline Raab, CenClear was formed in 1980 to provide pre-school to children in families who may not have been able to afford pre-school in Centre and Clearfield counties. The services were later expanded to include Elk County.
It was later discovered that mental health services for young children were difficult to find. In response to that need, CenClear began offering family-based mental health.
CenClear additionally began to offer Early Head Start, which was created to help pregnant women and children up to three years of age.
The program assists parents in finding resources, provides developmentally appropriate activities for children and ensures children receive any necessary screenings.
CenClear continued to add mental health services, as well as addiction services.
According to Seltzer, CenClear presently offers pre-school and Early Childhood Services, Drug and Alcohol (addiction) Services and Mental Health Service for all ages.
In the Early Childhood department, CenClear offers pre-school for children ages 3-5; Early Head Start for pregnant moms, infants and toddlers up to age three; Family Centers, Early Intervention for children ages 0-3 with disabilities; the Fatherhood Initiative; and the Yong Parents Program.
Under Mental Health, CenClear offers Mental Health Outpatient programs, Blended Case Management, Certified Peer Specialist and YAYA, the Child Family Resiliency Team, Community and School-based Behavioral Health programs, the Decision Support Center, Family-based Mental Health programs and Mobile Psychiatric Rehabilitation.
CenClear’s drug and alcohol addiction services include, Drug and Alcohol Outpatient Services, Partial Hospitalization (only available in Clarion), Gambling Addiction, Smoking Cessation and Medication-assisted Treatment.
CenClear is presently working to establish a Recovery Center for patients who are new to drug or alcohol recovery and their families and people stepping down from an addiction in-patient program.
CenClear is also establishing the Healing After Trauma Center for adults, children and teens suffering from trauma.
According to Raab, CenClear provides services to 12,000 consumers annually. This includes all Early Childhood, Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol treatment programs.
Seltzer said when the COVID-19 pandemic began, CenClear’s biggest concerns were ensuring the students, families and consumers in all programs still receive the services they need.
“We also needed to ensure our employees continued to work and that everyone was kept safe. Once our employees were sent home and our offices were closed, we immediately took action to transition our services online, Seltzer said via e-mail.
“While our offices and classrooms remained closed, we were able to offer ‘virtual’ lessons to our pre-school and Early Head Start families.
“Our teachers found new and creative ways to engage children and teach lessons. One lesson involved having children follow along virtually as the teacher cared for chickens.
“The students were able to see the chickens hatch, do projects and listen to stories about chickens online.”
Seltzer said CenClear’s mental health and addiction therapists also moved instinctively to help reach out to clients through telehealth.
“This was vitally important since the shock of this type of situation can lead to increases in depression, anxiety, isolation and addiction relapse,” Seltzer said.
“Although telehealth to patients in their homes is not something we had offered prior to COVID, our agency was well-positioned to move services online. Our therapists already had agency-issued devices they could use to work from home.”
She said the devices had necessary security in place to keep services and information confidential and were able to connect to their office devices from home.
Seltzer said the staff also had cell phones issued through the company to ensure confidentiality, which allowed the staff to continue checking phone messages and fax messages remotely.
With the fate of the 2020-21 school year still to be determined, Raab said many of the programs CenClear offers are connected to school district schedules. Raab said CenClear will follow the district schedules for services.
“CenClear is in communication with all of the districts we work with to ensure the services we prove are within the districts’ policy and guidelines related to the pandemic,” Raab said.