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Children's Mental Health Center Celebrates Anniversary

Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.
The Austin Child Guidance Center celebrated its 60th anniversary on Saturday.

The Austin Child Guidance Center celebrated its 60th anniversary this weekend with an open house at its 45th Street location. The Center has help treat 130,000 Austin children with mental health issues. This year may be one of the most challenging for the Center. Executive Director Russell Smith says 84 percent of the children that come to the Center live at 200 percent the federal poverty level or below. Most can qualify for some type of state health program such as CHIP or Medicaid.

“We never turn anyone away because of ability to pay," said Executive Director Russell Smith.  "We're for children, whether they come from a family with a little bit of resources or a family with a lot of resources -- the problems that they come to us with are the same. ”

The Austin Child Guidance Center received a $108,000 grant from Impact Austin that'll allow the Center to hire a couple new therapists. It also received a $263,000 grant this summer from St. David’s Health Care.  Smith said these gifts have helped keep the Center's mission.

Obviously in a down economy, said Smith, many of the families right now are dealing with smaller budgets which is stressful for children. With a growing Austin population, Smith said they see more children struggling with sadness, depression or attention deficit disorder. 

"Stress in the family will often lead to issues where you'll see behavior problems in the kids," he said.

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