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GROWTH: BEHAVIORAL HEALTH


The experience of homelessness is traumatic in and of itself, and the vast majority of the families we serve at Compass also grapple with significant additional trauma. For that reason, we have long held that behavioral health services are a critical piece of the puzzle in helping families to achieve lasting stability and well-being.


Guided by this premise, we have always provided critical behavioral health support to our client families, but in early 2020 we received a sizable grant from the San Francisco Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing to extend these services beyond the Compass umbrella, to families facing or exiting homelessness in programs throughout San Francisco, using a mobile or roving model. The model we proposed was innovative and interesting enough for Google to award Compass one of their prestigious Bay Area Impact Challenge Grants in November 2021, bringing an additional $500,000 to this work two years after we were awarded an initial $500,000 by Google as an Impact Challenge finalist.


When the pandemic hit, the planned mobile - and even in-person - therapy became impossible. Deploying our trademark flexibility, our behavioral health team pivoted to the provision of these much-needed services largely via teletherapy, a modality that, for many therapy participants, actually shows a great deal of promise for the post-pandemic era.


Last year our team of therapists provided individual, family, couples, and child play therapy to more than 300 parents and children each month, and 80% of these realized a positive change in their scores on the Global Assessment of Functioning - an assessment used to determine how much an individual’s symptoms affect their day-to-day life. Specifically, we saw an increase in housing stability and feelings of well-being in our adult participants and positive movement in the attainment of developmental milestones in the youngest therapy recipients. At the same time we noted a reduction in negative outcomes, such as homelessness recidivism, domestic violence, and child abuse.


Our goal has always been therapy on demand, which means being able to provide these critical services in the moment that a family needs them, rather than putting a family in crisis on a potentially months-long waiting list. These findings linking behavioral health services with family stability have been exhilarating and validating, substantiating with data what we have always known intuitively. Staying on top of the need is tremendously challenging, but we are committed to doing so.

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