One in ten youth has serious mental health problems that are severe enough to impair how they function at home in school or in the community. When Rhonda and Jeff adopted their son Mintesnot (Minty) from Ethiopia five years ago, they found themselves in the midst of a mental health crisis that impacted their entire family. Essentially a street kid who has experiences unbelievable horrors, Minty has significant mental health challenges. The couple had made arrangements for a therapist when they brought him back to the United States but it was clear that he needed more help. Rhonda put it this way, "We were not safe. We never knew when an anger outburst was going to happen." After trying outpatient counseling and residential treatment programs, they were referred to Albertina Kerr's Crisis Psychiatric Care services. In addition to making the family feel safe and at home, the therapists at Albertina Kerr included Minty's parents in his treatment. When he came home, he was able to explain what he was fearful about for the first time. Today, Minty is doing well academically and is stable enough to play on the football team. As Rhonda said, "Albertina Kerr is the reason we are a family of five and our family is complete."
Kerr’s programs are unique in Oregon, providing intensive intervention and psychiatric treatment for toddlers, young children and teenagers from early childhood to 18. Twenty-one percent of low-income youth ages 6 to 17 have mental health challenges and one in ten has a mental health challenge that is severe enough to impair how they function at home, school, or in the community. Sadly, 75% to 80% of children with mental health challenges do not receive the mental health care they need during this critical phase of their life. Kerr provides treatment and skills training geared toward creating new potential for a healthy, productive life for each child. In the last year Kerr's Youth and Family Services reported the following results:
Crisis Psychiatric Care: Kerr provided short-term residential care for 290 children with urgent mental health crises. Kerr works to stabilize children in crisis, provide effective mental health treatment and ultimately return the child to their home or a less intensive level of care. The program exceeded its outcome goals, transitioning 82% percent of children to a less intensive level of care, including returning to their family.
Intensive Community-Based Treatment Services: Kerr served 166 low-income children, ages 4 to 17, at risk of being unable to stay in their home or in school due to mental health challenges. Therapy, skills training, and intensive behavioral support allowed 93% of children to transition to less intensive care.
Community-Based Outpatient Services: Mental health services for 253 children, youth and their families were provided in community settings, including homes, schools and other locations. Services stabilize the child and other affected family members during periods of transition or disruption. During the year 92% of children transitioned to less intensive care.
Early Childhood Outpatient Services: Kerr served 49 pre-school children with behavioral challenges and their families. All 49 children showed improvement and were able to transition to less intensive care. Services result in the child and family developing skills the promote the child’s success and safety, preparing them to enter kindergarten ready to learn in their local community schools.
Special Needs & Therapeutic Foster Care: Kerr provided care for 90 children in foster care who have both mental health challenges and developmental disabilities and require skills training and extensive foster parent support.
Albertina Kerr also provides a wide range of services and programs designed to support children and adults with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy, empowering them to live richer lives. An estimated 38,000 individuals experience a developmental disability in Oregon. The people Kerr serves receive care, skills training and support for community involvement in their homes, in the community and in group homes.
Group Homes for Youth: Kerr provided 24-hour care and treatment for 107 youth, ages 9 to 18, with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges in 15 group homes. In aggregate, youth in group homes accomplished 85% of their Individual Service Plan goals and 86% of the youth who left group home had developed the skills necessary to move to a less restrictive environment.
Intensive Treatment Program for Youth: This 10-bed secure treatment program services youth with developmental disabilities, many of whom have concurrent mental health challenges. The only program of its kind in Oregon served 24 youth from across the state. Eighty-seven percent of the youth who left the program discharged having developed the skills to move to a less restrictive environment.
Group Homes for Adults: Kerr provided a neighborhood home in a residential community for 113 men and women with developmental disabilities in 31 group homes. Of the adults abled and inclined, 91% were socially engaged in meaningful relationships outside of their caregiving community. In aggregate, adults in group home care accomplished 93% of their Individual Service Plan goals.
Community Inclusion and Employment Services: A total of 277 adults and 43 youth participated in programs for people with developmental disabilities that give them the opportunity to participate in the workforce, join in activities and pursue hobbies that enrich their lives, leading to increased independence and community involvement. Fifty-four percent of the adult participants engaged in employment opportunities, while others explored different hobbies, developed interests, did volunteer work and experienced life in the community. Youth from Kerr’s Youth Group Homes volunteered 408 hours at Kerr Bikes, a bicycle rental business in Portland’s Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Into our second century, Albertina Kerr continues to develop innovative solutions and expand capacity for community needs. Community support is vital to our work; public funding fails to meet the vast need. Private support helps create a society that has no barriers.
When you support Albertina Kerr, you make a difference for a family in crisis. In 2012, Amy found out that her daughter had been trying to deal with it by herself and got to the point where she felt that "the only thing she could do was end her life." After a terrifying trip to the emergency room following a suicide attempt, Amy and her daughter walked through the doors of the Crisis Psychiatric Care program. "I was scared knowing she wasn't coming home with me, but relieved knowing that she was getting the help she needed," said Amy.
Albertina Kerr's Crisis Psychiatric Care program offers short-term residential care and 24-hour access to mental health care for children experiencing a mental health crisis. During her stay, Amy's daughter was supported by a dedicated team who gave her the professional psychiatric care, family therapy and skill necessary to move forward. According to Amy, the staff at Albertina Kerr helped her daughter feel like her life was worth living. Learn more about her story by watching the video here.