Access Family Services targets kids, families

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

WILMINGTON—Access Family Services, a behavioral healthcare center in Wilmington, focuses its efforts around the entire family.

From children dealing with mental illness or behavioral issues to therapeutic foster care, Access Family Services targets the entire family to help a child recover.

Children and adolescents suffering from behavioral disorders, trauma, anxiety, grief and loss issues and depression as well as children with a dual diagnosis of mental health issues and survivors of sexual and physical abuse can be treated at Access Family Services.

Mary Mack, state director of clinical services, says Access Family Services also offers treatment for adults, but they focus on the family.

Access Family Services offers intensive in-home services in Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover counties, Mack explained.

Intensive in-home services include teaching parents the elements of behavior modification and helping parents effectively deal with the child.

“Intensive in-home really wraps the family in a lot of services,” she said.

Sixty percent of the services take place in the home during intensive services.

“Our long-term goal is that they’re not dependent on services,” Mack said.

Access Family Services also offers therapeutic foster care for children who are removed from their homes by a state agency, or who have become unmanageable in the home.

Twelve families have signed up as therapeutic foster families, and Mack says they’re getting ready to expand the program. At the Access Family Service’s Charlotte center, they have close to 50 families singed up to be therapeutic foster families.

In the Wilmington area, “There’s just not enough parents to go around,” Mack explained. “Most of the time we have to turn away referrals.”

But Mack said the need for more foster parents continues.

“Our research tells us kids respond better in a family environment, even if it’s not their own family,” she explained.

To become a therapeutic foster parent, it takes about six weeks of intense training, criminal background checks and continued training every month.

Access Family Services also provides intensive in-home services for children and families to help children transition back into their homes after being in foster care and away from their biological families.

“They find success here. We also use shared parenting and facilitate intensive visitation so they don’t feel quite so separated,” Mack said.

Crisis team

Access Family Services has a 24-hour crisis line.

“We respond within 15 minutes and try to get out there within one hour,” Mack explained.

The crisis team is led by a licensed therapist and includes at least three other individuals. Mack said the team always consists of males and females so if the home is all males they have a male to help, or if the home is all females, they have a female to whom they can relate.

The crisis team meets every Tuesday so they can “constantly amend our strategy,” Mack said.

The 24-hour crisis line is (910) 509-8007.