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Center for the Vulnerable Child

The Center for the Vulnerable Child (CVC) provides individual and family therapy, clinical and medical case management, developmental screening, and parental education to the most vulnerable children in our community. Children experiencing poverty, family disruption, homelessness, foster care placement, drug exposure, abuse, neglect, community violence, or other threats may be at risk for health, emotional, developmental, or social problems. The CVC works to promote resilience, health, and well-being for the children we serve through a breadth of programs, highly individualized services and a dedication to our patients that reflects UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland longstanding mission to care for all children.

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Why Families Choose Us

Flexible services designed to address the effects of trauma and family disruption

  • Medical case management and related services to welcome children experiencing multiple transitions to a medical home at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
  • Innovative collaboration with Alameda County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to address the complex needs of children 0 – 3 in foster care, utilizing multi-disciplinary home-based services.
  • Site-based consultation and direct services at Head Start Centers, elementary schools, and middle schools in Alameda, Oakland, and Hayward.
  • Home- and school-based services for families functioning under the supervision of the Family Maintenance program at DCFS.
  • Integrated medical and mental health services provided at state-of-the-art medical clinics at two Oakland high schools.
  • A commitment to provide culturally informed and responsive services to empower underrepresented, underserved, and disadvantaged families.

Healthcare for the Homeless

The Center for the Vulnerable Child at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has been designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center by the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), funding a range of integrative services addressing the complex medical, developmental, and mental health needs of children and youth who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness.

  • The Encore Medical Clinic (EMC) and the Family Outreach & Support Clinic (FOSC) facilitate access to a medical home for homeless families coming to the Primary Care Center. Case managers provide culturally competent services including multi-level outreach, assistance with MediCal, referrals to other health services (including oral and mental health), quick scheduling of medical appointments, and food bags, as well as providing referrals and advocacy for shelter and permanent housing
  • Within the Encore Medical Clinic (EMC), the Pediatric Psychology Program (Triple P) provides integrated psychological services to homeless and at-risk children and families. Triple P clinicians work alongside the EMC attending to complete brief assessments of each patient’s mental health needs and, provide information, including psychoeducation regarding their findings and treatment options to the patients and families and then refer to services as appropriate. Triple P mental health clinicians partner with the primary care physician and EMC case managers to continue to provide services to patients with moderate to severe needs, within the primary care setting or through community-based services as appropriate
  • The Behavioral Health Integration (BHI) program provides innovative services to increase access to mental health services for children and youth attending the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s primary care and adolescent medical clinics. Multidisciplinary BHI clinicians are available at clinic appointments to screen for mental health needs. When emotional and behavioral concerns are identified, the BHI clinician can collaborate with the primary care medical provider to assure integration of services. Also, we provide brief therapy and/or medication interventions during the clinic appointment, as well as facilitate and support further treatment, either through follow-up appointments or through referrals to community resources
  • Foster Parent Support and Education offers bi-monthly classes to foster parents, adoptive parents, and relative caregivers to enhance their parenting knowledge. The group offers a caring network of support and satisfies continuing education requires for Alameda County Foster parents
  • The Youth Uprising/Castlemont Health Clinic and the Chappell Hayes Health Center at McClymonds High School are school-based outpatient clinics established in coordination with the Oakland Unified School District. Both centers provide comprehensive integrated medical and mental health services that support the long-term health and wellness of teens and young adults. Staff at these health centers are committed to creating a nonjudgmental, youth-centered, and confidential environment. In addition to comprehensive medical services, services include individual, family, and group therapy; crisis intervention; and treatment of depression, grief/loss, trauma, and anxiety/stress. Also, the center staff offers mental health consultation and professional development for educators; as well as health education on topics like nutrition, self-care, healthy lifestyles, conflict resolution, reproductive health, and substance abuse prevention

Community Partnerships

  • The Services to Enhance Early Development (SEED) program is a longstanding collaboration between the CVC, Alameda County’s Department of Children and Family Services, and Alameda County Public Health to provide specialized services to children age zero to three who are dependents of the court. The SEED team consists of infant/early childhood mental health practitioners, developmental specialists, family partners, child welfare workers, and parent advocates working together to provide culturally accountable and developmentally sensitive services to this extremely vulnerable population
  • Help Me Grow (HMG) serves young children from birth to age 6 in the Family Reunification Program of DCFS. With specific expertise on the impact of trauma on young children, staff from HMG provide initial developmental assessments and consultation to partner with child welfare workers and caregivers to identify the mental health, developmental and relational needs of children. Once needs are identified, staff help link caregivers to local supports and services that best meet the needs of their children
  • The Child and Adolescent Treatment Services (CATS) program provides comprehensive mental health services to youth who are living with their birth parents as part of the Family Maintenance Program of Alameda County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Also, CATS offers services to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland patients whose special medical needs and concurrent mental health issues threaten to overwhelm family resources, placing them at risk of DCFS involvement. CATS clinicians take a family-centered approach, integrating individual and family therapy with advocacy and case management. Most services are provided at the family’s home or at the youth’s school. Since 2003 the CATS program also has provided clinical training for social work and psychology students from Bay Area graduate schools
  • The PASSAGE program is a collaboration with the Department of Children and Family Services serving youth with emotional and behavioral issues that have not responded to standard community treatments. Using an innovative combination of trauma-informed, therapeutic collaborative assessment and direct stabilization services, the PASSAGE clinician partners with the youth, family, and existing providers to identify and address obstacles to successful treatment outcomes
  • The Successful Preschool and Readiness for Kindergarten (SPARK) program is designed to support and promote preschool adjustment and kindergarten readiness for children identified by preschool teachers as exhibiting behaviors that interfere with successful school participation and peer relationships. SPARK provides assessment of the child’s behavior, one-on-one child intervention in the preschool classroom, social skills groups, family therapy, parent-teacher consultation, parent workshops, and case management
  • The Child and Adolescent Health Workshop Series provides education to parents, caregivers, foster parents, social workers, medical and mental health providers to enhance their skills for working with and caring for children and adolescents

Training Program

The CVC offers a variety of training opportunities for master's-level counseling, social work, and infant development students, as well as for psychology doctoral students. Our goal is to offer an intensive training program within the context of providing community-responsive, school, clinic and home-based mental health services to infants, children, adolescents, caregivers, and families. We utilize a variety of therapeutic modalities, including parent–child, individual, play, family, and group therapy. Attachment-based, family systems, cognitive-behavioral, and social justice theoretical frameworks are incorporated into our training. Particular attention is paid to the impact of complex trauma on the social, emotional, and neuropsychological development of children living in multi-stressed settings.

At the CVC, trainees participate in a variety of weekly conferences, team meetings, and didactic trainings across the different programs. Prospective trainees should contact the CVC’s training Director, Camille Moreno, Psy.D., for more information regarding training opportunities.

Title IV-E Training/Consultation

The CVC provides a number of trainings related to the needs of children in foster care both at our agency and in the community. We have partnered with Alameda County and philanthropic organizations to make available our mental health consultation services, which focus on children and families and culturally accountable and trauma-informed services.