Crawford County Mental Health Center welcomed William Howell as the new Children’s Director this week. Howell has a Master in Counseling degree from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri and over a decade of experience as a program director. Howell fills the position left vacant by Michael Ehling as he assumed the role of CCMHC executive administrator at the end of 2019.

The Children’s Programs at CCMHC offer children’s intakes, individual and family therapy, crisis intervention, consultation, assessments, evaluations, medication referral, parent support, play therapy, and community based rehabilitation services, including case management, psychosocial groups, and attendant care.

Ehling and Howell face the challenges of new leadership with the added turbulence of the coronavirus global pandemic, a CCMHC press release noted. For the safety of clients and staff, Crawford County Mental Health Center temporarily suspended children’s psychosocial group skills training in both the Challenger and Discovery programs in late March. CCMHC continues to provide therapy and community based services via telehealth and some limited, social distancing appropriate face-to-face community services.

Ehling, Howell, and Program Coordinators Jaimi Dodson and Emily Gronau are gearing up to re-open psychosocial groups for clients. Discovery is intended to be re-opened in early May. Gronau is in the process of touching base with parents to determine which clients are interested in returning for face-to-face services with appropriate social distancing and smaller groups. Services at Discovery will look a little different when groups resume. At this time, transportation services will not be available for clients.

Dodson faces the same tasks in lining up the Children’s Challenger Program to resume this summer. The summer Challenger Program has operated for 27 years and has served over 4,000 children during that time. The Challenger Program is embedded and based out of the public school buildings during the summer. The program utilizes psychosocial groups to help children who struggle with appropriate social skills, exhibit emotional dysregulation, have difficulties staying focused, or have concerning stressors in the home domain. The Challenger Program utilizes seasonal summer staff from Pittsburg State University. Due to the coronavirus, Challenger will follow the same structural program changes as Discovery this summer; transportation services will not be available for clients and groups will be smaller for social distancing.

“It was very difficult for us to close these programs temporarily, as we know that Challenger and Discovery are a safe environment for our clients,” Ehling said in the release. “We are determined to re-open these services as soon as it is safe for clients and staff. Our agency is committed to providing these much needed mental health services to our clients in the safest way possible.”