JF&CS Unveils Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center
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JF&CS Unveils Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center

The new center offers a holistic, “whole-child” approach to mental health services.

The Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center offers a holistic approach to pediatrics.
The Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center offers a holistic approach to pediatrics.

Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta will unveil its reimagined “whole-child” approach this month with a host of new and expanded services for children and teens. Since announcing a transformative $1 million donation from the Horwitz-Zusman family, an additional $1 million has been raised from additional contributions by the community.

The Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center, at the Frances Bunzl Clinical Services of JF&CS, offers children, teens, and their families a place where they can receive numerous services and support, all under the same roof at various points throughout their lives.

Jewish Family & Career Services Chief Executive Officer Terri Bonoff.

“JF&CS is in a prime position to address the mental health needs of children in Georgia through the development of our center with programs and services that promote a positive mindset of resilience, health and well-being, as well as help diverse populations with the greatest need to develop skills, tools and resources to address challenges that come their way,” said JF&CS Chief Executive Officer Terri Bonoff.

Thus far, a 2,100 square-foot expansion is planned with 11 new rooms. Also, 15 additional mental health and support professionals have been added to the staff during the past two years, including a parent coach, in-school clinicians at Torah Day School, an executive functioning coach and a child neurologist with more than 40 years of experience.

According to Benjamin Robinson, director of clinical services, who joined the staff in 2021 to help develop this vision, “We are offering a modern approach to our clinical services, bringing additional and often overlooked resources together, enlisting families, schools and community resources as part of our team.”

Dan Arnold, director of clinical services at JF&CS.

As part of the new model, clinicians will be trained in a specific treatment philosophy designed for children aged 0 to 5 that employs play therapy, according to Dan Arnold, director of clinical supervision for Frances Bunzl Clinical Services at JF&CS. The additional space will feature specially designed, colorful play areas for this age group as well. Arnold mentioned that as part of the expansion, center clinicians will visit preschools and daycares to help diagnose children with atypical development or who may be dealing with anxiety and depression. Arnold helped lead the development of the whole child, holistic model that will serve as the template for children and teens to receive a broad range of needed developmental and psychological resources at the center.

Professionals hired as part of the center’s growth effort include Howard Schub, MD, a well-known and respected child neurologist, who will also offer QB Tech testing to diagnose ADHD and measure medication effectiveness. Marlena Reese, Ed.D, will help children, teens and parents navigate effective executive function skills. Her work focuses on supporting students with a variety of learning styles and abilities to help them become their most successful selves. Cari Newman, the center’s parent coach, will provide parents and caregivers with individualized tools to make parenting less overwhelming and family life more harmonious. Nachman Friedman and Bracha Shulgasser will also continue to provide on-campus counseling services throughout the year to students at Torah Day School.

In addition, as part of the Center’s plan, JF&CS hopes to offer an in-school counseling initiative at other school campuses throughout Atlanta.

“Providing therapy during the school day allows students to get the help they need when they need it,” said Robinson. “In addition, our therapists can work with school administrators to offer social and emotional learning guidance.”

Furthermore, therapists are also able to go into schools on short notice to address crisis or grief-related situations or supplement the efforts of school staff, which they have done throughout 2022.

The support and services will also extend to college campuses. Through funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the center will continue its work with Hillels of Georgia to offer free telehealth and in-person services to college students throughout Georgia.

Amanda La Kier, chief development, and marketing officer at JF&CS.

As the center has grown during the past two years, so has the number of groups and initiatives, including Acceptance to Celebration for families of LGBTQ+ youth; In Her Time, a therapy group for young women; and Stepping Stones, a program for preschoolers and their parents or caregivers. On an ongoing basis, the Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center also offers an online webinar on topics of interest such as ADHD, executive function and managing tantrums and meltdowns.

Amanda La Kier, chief development, and marketing officer at JF&CS, summed up the vision of the Horwitz-Zusman Child & Family Center staff when she shared, “The expansion of services will not only allow us to serve more children, teens, and families. It also gives JF&CS greater capacity to respond to crisis situations and support our community during times of need. We are focused on providing education and raising awareness to address the stigma around mental health which often creates a barrier to getting help.”

For more information on services provided or to view the Focus workshop series, please visit https://jfcsatl.org/services/clinical-services/horwitz-zusman.

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