40 years ago a group of parents, professionals and leaders in our community developed an idea for a community-based agency that could support children, families and adults in our community with a variety of needs that schools, county services, the hospital and medical community were not set up to support.
From that grass roots origin and through the synthesis of community energy, built on a strong foundation of partnership came Central Center for Family Resources a new non for profit organization in Anoka County and the north metro with a goal to address community needs in unique and customized ways that met each individual where they were at with the right intervention at the right time.
Over the years Central Center, now Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well-being introduced peer support groups for school aged children then a drop-in center for adults seeking mental wellness. Later came Child Psychiatry and then a Domestic Abuse Program treating both aggressors and survivors.
By 2009, The agency already had strong roots in service to schools and school aged children and partnerships with multiple school districts when Central Center was renamed Lee Carlson Center as a tribute to a founding member and the agency’s first director, Lee Carlson.
Later the agency would become a full-scale licensed clinic and a resource to parents providing Restorative Parenting and helping re-establish strong bonds between parent and child after traumatic experiences. For the first time in 2014 Minnesota certified Lee Carlson Center as an Essential Community Provider because over half of the clients the agency served were living at or below poverty.
In more recent years and in keeping with tradition Lee Carlson Center has continued to respond to community needs. The needs have been growing intensely and the agency has met those needs in stride with the support of funders, numerous partnerships, a great team of front-line staff and staff leadership and a mission-driven board of directors. Together we have addressed the challenge of wait lists and added capacity in an effort to eliminate wait lists across many of our programs because “there can be nothing more difficult then waiting for a mental health service you need to today.”
Lee Carlson Center started an in-home mental health services program for children, families and adults and an intensive program for children living in foster care because our community needed greater access to these specialized services.
We expanded services to a record 65+ schools across 8 school districts over the past two years because the fact is, children and families need easy access to early interventions. Last year we served a Pre-K aged child and by the middle of Kindergarten that child was discharged from our program ready to meet the world of a school age child undeterred by the effects of debilitating mental illness.
Being located inside a school makes mental heath support accessible to many kids and families who would otherwise miss out on the right care at the right times having to get those services in the evenings or on weekends. Being linked with children in their school setting gives us a unique opportunity to impact academic trajectory in a positive way removing the barrier to educational progress that mental health conditions can create.
Lee Carlson Center now has 4 clinic sites ranging from central Anoka County to Northern Hennepin County and we have a laser focused vision to meet more needs in each community we serve building out all our service offerings in each of our locations. Today, most schools we serve are less than 10 minutes from a clinic site where we have the capacity to serve the entire family. Last year in fact we served a family of 8 across 5 of our programs creating needed Hope, Healing and Health for a family in need.
Our Bridgeview drop-in center has added new dimensions of care from employment support to housing support services and groups ranging from mental health support groups to Dialectical Behavioral Supports, innovative garden therapy and art therapy services, yoga, dance, social interaction opportunities, community activities and a healthy meal for members every day of the week. In fact, Bridgeview is such a healthy place that one member started visiting Bridgeview for mental health supports and was soon able to safely eliminate the need for high blood pressure medication.
This week was Gratitude Week at Lee Carlson Center. We spent time thanking all the staff who work tirelessly on our client’s behalf. These team members are an asset. All who support our mission play an important role. Each inspires us with their ability to “Keep Talking About Mental Health” Many friends of the agency send family and friends to us for support, we are humbled. Others contribute time, talent and financial resources to make this mission work. Our Mission to provide exceptional and affordable mental health services for families, children, youth, and adults in our community would not be possible without your support and generosity so thank you and thank you for celebrating 40 years of Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well-being.
Chief Executive Officer
For More About Our History READ Lee Carlson Center Through The Years 1979-2019
photo: Lee Carlson