Behavioral Health Care Access for Undocumented and Mixed-status Families


Grantee: Southwest Youth and Family Services
Timeframe: April 2019 – March 2020 | Amount: $29,984.97


Research shows that immigrants, particularly undocumented or mixed-status families, have higher mental health risks and are less likely to access behavioral health or public health benefits, even for their children who may be eligible for benefits. With the large population of immigrants in South King County, SWYFS works with a significant number of undocumented families through the SWYFS Family Resource Center, King County Violence Prevention Program, and New Futures programs, which operate in place-based education and community centers in four apartment complexes in South King County, three of which are KCHA public housing. Through working with this population for over 20 years, SWYFS recognizes the significant gap in behavioral health care access first-hand, specifically for undocumented or mixed-status families who are reluctant to access support because of cultural stigma, lack of insurance or public benefits, lack of culturally and linguistically accessible services, and increased fear of using services because of fear of deportation. Another challenge SWYFS faces is the sensitivity and discretion required in obtaining funding and reporting on services due to the insecure status of these families and our desire to protect them from any potential harm due to receiving support services.


Through this grant, SWYFS will implement a one-year pilot program to assess the behavioral health needs and barriers of this community, involve community leaders in planning of a culturally and linguistically relevant program to address disparities and improve behavioral health care access for undocumented youth and parents. Through this pilot program, the SWYFS Counseling Department will provide the following place-based behavioral health services within New Futures community centers specifically for undocumented and mixed-status families:

  • Behavioral Health outreach, awareness and education: New Futures Family Advocates will conduct outreach with families at all four New Futures sites and host behavioral health awareness sessions with Spanish speaking therapists, to provide general education about behavioral health, common misconceptions and cultural stigmas, and receive input from the community about concerns, barriers and kinds of behavioral health support needed most.
  • Behavioral Health Groups: SWYFS Counseling Department will provide non-traditional, innovative and culturally relevant services through Behavioral Health groups within New Futures community centers for parents and/or youth. These groups will focus on topics identified by the community such as grief and loss, trauma, dealing with acute and chronic stress and its effects on parents, children and family, alcohol/drug abuse and prevention, parenting and family dynamics, and involve community leaders and culturally relevant practices in combination with traditional mental health approaches. SWYFS anticipates the capacity to host 4-6 groups, typically lasting 6-10 weeks and 2 hours per week with 10-15 individuals per group.
  • Individual and Family Therapy: SWYFS Counseling Department will provide on-site individual and family therapy as needed for undocumented/mixed-status families, removing the barriers of transportation, finances or access to Medicaid due to undocumented status or fear of registering for public benefits. SWYFS anticipates the capacity to provide individual, child, or family therapy for up to six individuals/families at a time throughout the year.


About Our Grantee

Southwest Youth and Family Services

The mission of Southwest Youth and Family Services (SWYFS) is to partner with youth and families to transform their futures.

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