By Chavaria Williams
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
For Durham individuals facing emotional, educational and behavioral challenges, having a mentor through Family Connections can provide friendship, fun and a new perspective.
Family Connections, LLC serves the city of Durham’s special needs residents by providing them with family-focused mental health services. Located on the NECD area border, on Miami Boulevard, FC has been operating since September 2006 and only services Durham County.
Founders Delton DeVose and Charles Lyon Mitchell began with the mission of being
“dedicated to empowering the community as a whole by providing effective, efficient, and comprehensive community-based alternatives for our consumers in a therapeutic, family centered environment,” according to the organization’s mentor handbook.
A seven-year-old client of Family Connections, LLC said she looks forward to spending time with mentor Tanya Osbourne. The client, who lives in Northeast Central Durham, enjoys her longs walks through Southpoint Mall and other activities.
Osbourne said their time together helps her client cope with depression and anger management. It also helps her build self-confidence.
“When I’m with Tonya we have fun and I can talk about my problems,” the seven-year-old said.
These therapeutic interventions build character and a relationship unavailable at home.
Funding for the organization comes from the government healthcare provider for lower-income families and individuals, Medicaid. Medicaid links the clients with the mentors.
Their approval and authorization is an initial requirement followed by decisions regarding the amount of time allowed and interventions with a therapist and a certified Family Connections management member.
The toughest part, according to Osbourne, is when Medicaid reduces the time she is allowed to spend with a client because it hampers the relationship they have built.
Another organization, Solutions, provides the therapists and acts as a partner to FC. Volunteers are strictly prohibited because of confidentiality issues.
“I truly enjoy working for Family Connections because the bond between myself and the clients is awesome,” said Tanya. “These are my kids.”
Tanya considers herself like a mother to her two clients. She calls them and makes sure they are succeeding academically. She also visits on weekends. As a result, most of the kids have improved in the classroom.
The program offers unique programs such as in-home services where mentors meet clients strictly at the residence. It also has a community support team, which works with older clients.
Family Connections hopes to give clients life skills that will outlive their experience and expand their outreach.