The Guidance Center is a holistic organization that aims to enhance the lives of families across southeast Michigan. The paramount goal of this organization is to cooperate with the communities to reinforce them and help in overcoming challenges. This investigational paper examines the current status of the Guidance Center and its community impact, thus revealing its strengths and weaknesses in order to suggest potential improvement perspectives.
Located at 13101 Allen Road, Southgate, MI, 48195, the Guidance Center offers two phone numbers, one of which is for non-emergency calls (734-785-7700), and the other one is after-hours crisis hotline (888-711-5465). There are 22 locations and campuses that are devoted to different social issues, including Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Programs (Southgate) or Children’s Home-Based, Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) and Children’s Crisis Programs (Lincoln Park).
For the convenience of individuals and families, the organization provides the official website (https://www.guidance-center.org/) with the detailed and structured information. In particular, all the locations are available at the website, where their phone numbers are also provided. Programs and services, support options, and resources compose the key sections of the website.
Tina Brandau, the Director of Human Resources, acted as an interviewee for this investigation. She holds one of the key positions in the leadership team of the organization, which strives to empower both employees and people who need assistance. Brandau was selected as the contributor since she is responsible for establishing proper communication across the Guidance Center, productive employee relations, and training as a way to continuous improvement.
History and Funding
In 1958, the Guidance Center was established in Wayne County as a single storefront organization with a $ 1 million budget. The collaborative approach to addressing the mental and other problems of the local communities allowed it to grow extensively to become a $ 38 million multidimensional center. Initially, it was a group of educators and residents, who decided that the state of Michigan needs joined forces to address challenges encountered by families (“About the Guidance Center,” 2019).
The organization passed a long way towards collecting and applying expertise in the fields of child development, mentoring, assistance to families with low income, and so on. Extensive research conducted by the Center for Excellence is another beneficial point of the organization, which make it possible to adjust the services with the purpose of not only meeting but also anticipating people’s needs.
A Board of Directors consists of 15 members, each of which coordinates one or several directions of support. It should be stated that more than 600 children were engaged in the Early Head Start, Head Start, and Great Start Readiness programs in 2014. For expectant mothers and their toddlers and infants, the Early Head Start program was launched at six locations in Downriver. The story behind the work is representative of the commitment and loyalty of employees to the organization’s mission that did not change significantly since its foundation. People who are engaged in fundraising activities and those who directly work with the populations ensure that the members of the community achieve their personal triumphs, be it a child’s school preparedness or substance abuse elimination.
As it was already noted, the funding of the Guidance Center raised tremendously over time, which enlarged support opportunities. In particular, the organization was awarded the Certified Behavioral Health Clinique (CCBHC) grant in 2018. It implies the provision of $ 3,311,952 to introduce this national model in practice and addition overcoming services (“About the Guidance Center,” 2019). The advocacy of Debbie Stabenow, the Senator, was useful to receive the identified grant and continue operating towards the vision of the organization. In terms of this grant, the critical benefit is also delivered to under-insured and uninsured persons, who cannot independently afford the services they need.
Recently, another major campaign was completed to create a new home for the Kids-TALK Children’s Advocacy Center that serves people living in Midtown Detroit. $ 2 million was spent to build this facility, while there is also another campus in Southgate. Speaking from the historical perspective, one may list a range of grants, donations, and gifts obtained by the Guidance Center, yet this paper outlines only several of them. For instance, the Michigan Department of Community Health chose the given organization to provide it with a $ 3 million grant for the implementation of the Children’s Transition Support Team. The latter is focused on the creation of such conditions for youth in facility placements that would be home-like settings. This decision targets potential return of youth to their homes and families or, at least, their adaptation.
Today, the Guidance Center turns out to be one of the major non-profit organizations that assist children and adults with developmental and intellectual struggles. Due to the increased attention from the state authorities and other organizations, the center has a great potential to grow in the future and work on the enhancement of its services (“About the Guidance Center,” 2019). The emphasis placed on innovations fostered success, and from starting as a pioneer, the Guidance Center became an experienced and well-aware agency.
The mission of the Guidance Center involves three important goals, such as nurturing development, cultivating well-being, and fostering resilience. The organization envisions its future as being a leader in innovations, community engagement, and cooperation, which would allow building a vibrant future. The Guidance Center prioritizes welcoming and accessibility, claiming that compassion, professionalism, and empathy are the key driving forces of success.
Innovation and creativity, collaboration and teamwork, as well as integrity and stewardship can also be noted among other values (“About the Guidance Center,” 2019). The continuous improvement processes promote excellence and high quality to accomplish the best outcomes possible. In order to remain responsive to the ever-changing community needs, the agency uses relevant data and seeks necessary resources.
The given community-driven organization serves children, adults, and families – 23,600 people in general. The Kids-TALK Children’s Advocacy Center offers educational and supported services. Children’s behavioral health as well as family support services are designed to screen and identify critical situations, preventing complications (Programs & services”, 2019). Targeting children aged between 5 and 17, the programs aid them in building on their strong points instead of paying too much attention to the negative ones. While treating young adults and children as part of families, the organization empowers them to lead fulfilling lives.
As for adult services, one may enumerate workforce development, supported employment, substance use prevention, and case management. Last but not least, the Guidance Center works with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which contain transition planning, skill building, peer mentoring, psychological and psychiatric aid, et cetera. Recovery is the main idea of adult programs that promote resilience to difficulties and nurture the coping abilities of people. In total, there are 25 programs that are designed to educate, lead, and stimulate the growth of the community.
The funding options are varied and depend on a person or organization that wants to contribute: private, public, special interest groups, and so on. For example, it is possible to donate online, by telephone, or sending a check, clarifying the amount of money that is affordable to the sender. Another option is Budd Lynch Endowment Fund for Children, which was initiated in honor of Budd Lynch, who provided support for two decades.
Special events, such as Summer Glow, present more options for sponsorships (“2019 special events sponsorship opportunities”, 2019). More to the point, Kids-TALK CAC Campaign Contributions, planned giving, donate items, and tribute giving opportunities may be used by those who want to provide aid. By shopping at AmazonSmile or Kroger, people can also fund the Guidance Center: 0.5% of the price is transmitted by Amazon to the non-profit organization, and Kroger gives up to $ 2,000,000 to charitable organizations.
Speaking of the structure of the organization, one should stress that there are 550 employees, including therapists, behavioral specialists, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, et cetera. The staff members have full-time, part-time, and contractual options to select in consistence with their conditions. Throughout the agency, there are volunteers who contribute to various committees and serve in varying capacities. The majority of staffing issues is reviewed by Tina Brandau, whose adherence to the organizational values makes her work effective in developing the unique talents of the team members. The employees of the Guidance Center work at the intersection of behavioral health and physical healthcare to provide holistic care.
Community-driven organizations typically achieve their goals for improving the lives of individuals by engaging in collaboration and partnerships with other groups that can complement their existing capabilities. Collaboration helps address a variety of issues that any singular organization cannot handle alone due to the limitations of expertise, scope, and resources. Realizing the inherent benefits of collaboration, the Guidance Center engages in a variety of partnerships, acting either as a beneficiary or a patron for different organizations it engages with. It existed since 1958, addressing the needs of Michigan in Wayne country, and has since grown to incorporate 22 areas of interest across the state (The Guidance Center, n.d.).
The organization reaffirms its standing on community collaboration, claiming that collaborative relationships help increase the overall community impact and achieve internal efficiency of its operations. As the Guidance Center increased its scope of operations, so did it focus on incorporating various other groups into its web. The most notorious cases being the following (The Guidance Center, 2018):
- State of Michigan Department of Mental Health: The organization of interest focuses on mental health, behavior, skill development, and support services, which align with the state department’s scope of operation. To enhance community collaboration, the Guidance Center became an official agency under the larger organization’s overarching authority.
- Department of Social Services. The Guidance Center and the Department of Social Services enjoy a long-standing relationship of partnership, as the latter provides the necessary funding to support abuse and neglect programs.
- South-West Solutions. This is a large socioeconomic organization operating from Detroit, which has its representatives attending all places of interest in the south-western part of the US (South-West Solutions, 2019). It focuses primarily on counseling services, housing solutions, and employment. The Guidance Center is one of its many partners, being an organization that provides quality counseling services while also engaging in other overlapping avenues of community collaboration.
- Family Medical Centers of Michigan. Since the Guidance Center focuses largely on the development and treatment of behavioral problems, it does have the means of properly addressing some of the associated primary healthcare issues. Family Medical Centers of Michigan provide the necessary expertise, equipment, and opportunities to help individuals recover.
- Community Care Services (CCS). CCS is another major organization operating in Michigan, which assists individuals with mental health and drug abuse problems, find a way to return back to normal life. The Guidance Center and CCS share a strong relationship, as the latter provides avenues for delivering care existing beyond the scope of typical behavioral therapy (CCS, n.d.).
There are many other organizations that the Guidance Center are actively working with, but listing all of them would be a tedious task to complete in the scope of this paper. During the interview, director Tina Brandau mentioned these five as the primary partners. As it is possible to see, the Guidance Center partners with larger organizations by providing them with its behavioral therapy and engagement services. In addition, it works with governmental departments that provide the organization with grants and financial support and acts as a donor to various local non-profits that enhance community performance as a whole. Based on these factors, along with the official statements made by the Guidance Center about a holistic approach to the situation, it can be concluded that collaboration is a central focus of the organization’s community impact strategy.
The Guidance Center’s impact on the community of Michigan has been steadily growing ever since 1958. The organization utilizes quantitative methods of assessing its influence and success rate in improving other peoples’ lives. Based on the official statements, the main focus of the interventions conducted by the group includes traditional behavioral and psychological challenges, such as unemployment, poverty, depression, and a lack of motivation in individuals (The Guidance Center, n.d.). Some of the emerging psychological issues tackled by the Guidance Center are adolescent suicides and community crisis situations. Here are some numbers demonstrating the impact of the organization on Michigan and Downriver communities as a whole:
- Over the course of existence of the Guidance Center, over 25,000 individuals a year have become the beneficiaries of various assistance programs (The Guidance Center, n.d.). It must be kept in mind that in the majority of the cases, the intervention involved long-term efforts to support employment, housing, and treatment.
- Guidance Center currently supports more than 600 children, assisting them in developmental and psychological ways, through Head Start programs (The Guidance Center, 2018). These efforts are aimed at preschool children from underprivileged families, assisting their parents in raising and preparing them for school.
- The organization, initially based in Wayne County, now has over 22 representation centers across Michigan, thus having gradually increased its influence on the community on a state level.
- The Guidance Center completed the construction of a permanent home for Kids-TALK Children’s Advocacy Center, located in midtown Detroit. As a result, the children of Detroit became recipients of the one-of-a-kind Kids Talk Program, which is used to assist children with developmental issues in learning to properly use the English language for reading, writing, and other activities (The Guidance Center, n.d.).
- Mental Health Awareness programs. The “Images of Resilience” exhibit has been going on for 4 years now (The Guidance Center, 2019). It promotes mental health awareness through the sharing of personal stories and allowing children and parents to meet individuals with mental health issues. All of them have worked with the Guidance Center and managed to succeed in life despite various hurdles and challenges faced along the way. These stories help strengthen the community and give hope to families in Michigan and beyond by providing positive role models and increasing confidence in one’s own capabilities.
The government-based and non-profit evaluation agencies have rated the efforts of the Guidance Center on improving community behavioral healthcare very highly. This claim is supported by the organization’s growth as well as the increased grant allocation and funding of various community-based programs. The recipients of care highlight two areas in which the Guidance Center showed exceptional success, these being Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy and Kids Talk.
Applied behavioral analysis therapy is one of the premier therapy options available to children with autism in Michigan. Being one of the largest behavior-focused organizations in the state, the Guidance Center provides a positive impact on the community by allowing patients to undergo treatments and improve their long-term functionality as individuals and members of the society (“Intellectual and developmental disabilities,” n.d.). When, due to the reduction of government spending, ABA was threatened to be removed from the list of services provided by the Guidance Center in Michigan, the community rose in support of the program (Thompson, 2019). Such a response indicates that the effectiveness of the practice was visible not only to the organization’s own internal efficiency reviewing team but also to the recipients of care, who felt tangible effects for themselves and their children.
Considering a daunting state of mental health funds that have been slashed by the government, as well as increased rates of homelessness and poverty, a bill was passed by the Michigan House that demands an increase in mental health and autism funding. The Guidance Center helped support this bill through excellency in ABA care and advocacy efforts. It is expected that this public policy will narrow a funding gap in the public mental health system of Michigan.
One of the main organization’s strengths is its people-centered approach. Services provided by the Guidance Center are responsive to the needs of the community and permanently evolve to enable high-quality value-based care. For example, to keep pace with the up-to-date technologies and meet the consumers’ needs in an individualized format, the mental health center contributed to the development of myHealth digital platform which empowers people with access to clinically-proven resources that are available twenty-four hours a day.
It is worth mentioning that the Guidance Center views its recipients of care not as patients but as equal partners in planning, developing, and providing care to ensure that it meets their needs. Thus, the organization focuses on the establishment of meaningful and effective relationships with people. This approach complies with the current model of care that emphasizes the importance of building a positive relationship with customers, which is viewed as a critical indicator for the achievement of both holistic wellbeing and a more stable recovery (Torpie, 2014). In such a way, the health center continues being the service provider of people’s choice due to it being sensitive to the current and future needs of its customers. Therefore, another strength of the Guidance Center is its holistic approach on which it constantly works and which is intrinsic to the comprehensive care promoting physical, emotional, and mental health.
It is important to note that the Guidance Center successfully builds partnerships with other healthcare organizations to provide high-quality care to everyone who needs it. For example, to provide primary care services and behavioral health services to people, the Guidance Center works together with the Family Medical Center of Michigan. The mental health center also partners with SavMor Pharmacy for making prescriptions to meet the psychiatric needs of the community. Among other companies that have resources for individuals and families are Bridgeway Services and Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority.
Another remarkable strength of the Guidance Center is its ability to adapt to the needs of many different people. The population which the organization serves includes more than twenty thousands of residents of Downriver and Southwest Michigan. Community outreach consists of the school-based services and the services of the Critical Incident Team. Instead of helping its customers deal only with a particular area of concern, the medical center provides assistance in several areas. Specifically, the Guidance Center delivers education, mental health, and support services for pregnant women and parents of children aged 0-6 years.
For children and youth aged 5-17 years, the organization offers behavioral health services and prevention and diversion services to help teenagers make healthy choices. For adults, the Guidance Center offers adult behavioral health services, as well as inpatient and outpatient treatment of substance abuse. The mental health center also provides people of all ages diagnosed with developmental or intellectual disabilities with such services as skill-building, physical therapy, family or group therapy, and guardianship testing. Of particular note is Kids-TALK Children’s Advocacy Center which investigates, assesses, and prevents child abuse in Wayne County.
Another strength of the Guidance Center is associated with the organization adding value to the current programs on mental health and support services. This is especially important, given the troubled state of mental health care funding (Scott & Wolfe, 2015). Since there are many people with no health insurance and a few public health providers in Southwest Michigan available to deliver care, the significance which the Guidance Center has for the people cannot be overestimated. This is because mental health care which the health center provides is accessible and transparent, and the range of programs which it offers is wide and available for people of all ages.
Based on the research conducted and the interview with Tina Brandau, the organization does not have major weaknesses negatively affecting its performance. However, the director mentioned that the Guidance Center could deliver better patient care by adopting current best evidence-based practices and employing evidence disseminating strategies. The possible action plans to improve the effectiveness of patient care may include the critical appraisal of evidence and embedding of the appropriate methods and techniques in the routine practice (June & Black, 2011; Simpson, 2015). The utilization of the best clinically proven practices aligns with the organization’s mission and vision by enabling healthcare professionals to deliver more effective and safe care to customers.
This investigative paper assessed and analyzed the effectiveness and impact of the Guidance Center mainly on the basis of the face-to-face interview with the director Tina Brandau. The Guidance Center enhances the community behavioral healthcare by adapting to the needs of the community, offering a variety of healthcare services, and building successful partnerships with other organizations to fill the gaps in resources and expertise. However, the quality of care delivered by the mental health center could be improved by integrating current evidence-based methods into its daily operations.
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