Connections

Overview

Children with untreated trauma or mental health conditions are likely to come to the attention of school personnel because of inattention or acting out in the classroom, attendance problems, depression/anxiety, withdrawn behavior or social problems with peers. They may be bullies or bullied. At home, these are children who may test the patience of parents or, alternately, are considered compliant, perfect children. One may be at risk for child abuse; the other for child neglect. Both need help.

Over 60% of all children and adolescents are victimized by violence each year

(Finkelhor, Turner, Ormrod, & Hamby, 2009). Whether in the form of child maltreatment, bullying, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, crime, or exposure to war, such victimization may result in children experiencing trauma symptoms. They may suffer from nightmares, irritability, trouble concentrating, behavior problems, dissociation, depression, or anxiety. Despite this, only 20% of children with mental/behavioral disorders are identified and receive mental health services (Center for Disease Control, 2013).

How it works

Connections is a voluntary program and referrals are based on parent consent. With the growing need for early intervention programs, Connections was created to detect and confront mental health problems in children and to seek appropriate solutions that help each child reach his or her fullest potential. Connections works with school and medical professionals to identify children in need of services. We match children with community therapists who are trained in evidence-based practices and provide ongoing follow-up to families, referral sources and providers.

Connections Mission

To promote hope, health, and resilience for children and families in need through coordinated screening and assessment, improved access to quality services and treatment, and commitment to community education and rigorous research.

Purpose

Children with behavioral health symptoms – which may be indicative of toxic stress, trauma, and exposure to violence – often can be identified early, and if timely, appropriate, and effective services can be offered, a child can get back on track developmentally, function better at home and in the classroom, and be safer at home and in the community.

Focus

Connecting children and families to preventative and early intervention mental health services and social services.

What We Do

  • Work with educators, medical professionals, and others to identify children and families in need of mental health services
  • Develop and support a network of mental health providers
  • Link children and families to the appropriate mental health and social services services at the appropriate time
  • Evaluate outcomes, ensuring that children and family needs are met and solutions found

Value Statements

  • We will treat with compassion, dignity, and respect the children and families needing help, the professionals making referrals, and the providers serving them.
  • We will tirelessly seek the right help for children and families. We will not give up.
  • We will speak up about the mental health and social service needs of children and families and advocate for the best practices and policies to meet those needs.
  • We will work with and value the contributions of children & families, co-workers and community partners, stakeholders and other advisors.
  • We will sustain and reinvest in our mission by conscious and wise management of our human, natural, and material resources.

Testimonials

Millard Public Schools
Our experience and partnership with Project Harmony/Connections has been fantastic!  The staff members at Project Harmony are always responsive and are very helpful when our schools reach out.  It is a comfort knowing we have a partner who can connect our students and families with the appropriate resources in times of crisis or trauma.  We are looking forward to our continued partnership and increased involvement with Project Harmony and Connections.
As the Director of Student Services overseeing all our schools, I can tell you the services and coordination Project Harmony provides has been outstanding.  Our working relationship had done nothing but benefit the kids and families of our school district.  In times of crisis, students and families often want and need to be guided in the process of getting help and Project Harmony provides that guidance.

Papillion La Vista Community School
We began collaborating with the Project Harmony through their Connections program second semester last year and we’ve continued the partnership.  Connections represents and extremely valuable partnership and an opportunity to provide our students with a bridge to mental health services.  Connections has provided us with an avenue to connect our students with quality providers using evidence-based practices.  The program has also helped to mitigate barriers that prevent some children and families from accessing services.

In The News

We are pleased that the Omaha World-Herald recognized the efforts of our schools, mental health providers, supporters and staff in the development and early success of the Connections program.

Therapists in school can quickly reach kids in need
Erasing stigma of mental health treatment, program helps calm classrooms
Breaking Down Barriers