Northwest NEWS

November 8, 1999

Home & Garden

Free counseling for troubled youth

   Northshore Youth and Family Services (NYFS) has distributed vouchers for free counseling for students and families in all Northshore public schools. The vouchers, totaling $35,000, will replace counseling funds the school district lost this fall due to decreased enrollment.

   "We are extremely concerned about those families who could least afford services," said Bruce Mulvey, NYFS Executive Director. "Our agency has worked in partnership with the schools for many years. We decided to continue to provide $25,000 in services to elementary school students and families and $1,000 to each of the junior high and high schools. Since we're a small non-profit agency, we'll be seeking help from the community and from social service funders to recoup some of these funds."

   "This is good for kids, good for parents and good for the community," said Ron Belcher, principal of Woodin Elementary School in Woodinville. "I've seen many students benefit when families are involved with a counselor who helps the parent develop some strategies that help kids cooperate with school rules and succeed in school."

   "NYFS has stepped up to provide student and family services that the district can't fund," said Eric Barnum, Director of Student Services. "This is evidence of a long history of collaboration and partnership between NYFS and Northshore Schools. The vouchers enable the schools to link families to helpful services. When students are acting out in school, misbehaving, not learning, it often reflects other issues going on in their lives. The school sees only part of the picture. We've seen many students settle down and learn when counselors help the youth and family make changes in their situations."

   Cynthia Trowbridge is a parent with children in Northshore elementary, junior high, and high schools. She's also a NYFS board member and a family educator for an Eastside family crisis center.

   Trowbridge said, "Families need support especially when their kids reach adolescence and enter junior high. Parents feel like they're loosing touch and their kids who are increasing influenced by others outside the home. I'm tremendously proud that the community is making a huge commitment to continue practical help to kids and parents. Often families are fragmented with no other source of support," she continued.

   Keeping kids involved with their families, succeeding academically, and helping them get along with others at school are important "protective factors" in preventing youth violence and substance abuse, according to Drs. David Hawkins and Richard Catalano, nationally recognized University of Washington researchers.

   Families can contact school counselors or principals to determine if they meet income guidelines to be eligible for vouchers and to be referred to NYFS for counseling. Families can also call Northshore Youth and Family Services at (425) 485-6541 to learn more about the program.