The logo for HopeSpoke

HopeSpoke cares for 20 children daily in its Extended Day Treatment program, for children ages 5 to 11 with serious emotional and/or behavioral challenges who are at risk for out-of-home placement or hospitalization. This is Lincoln's only program providing daily care for elementary-age children in need of intensive mental health services. These children are especially vulnerable as they need higher levels of care, have few treatment options, come from low-income families. and comprise a more diverse population than the city population as a whole. 

Sharing meals is an important part of Extended Day Treatment. Children receive 1-2 meals plus a snack daily during treatment. Meals for 20 children are prepared on-site by program staff. Currently, these group meals are prepared in a galley kitchen similar to that of a studio apartment, with a standard residential refrigerator, 4-burner stove/oven, and limited counter and cupboard space. 

A $100,000 gift from Union Bank & Trust would allow HopeSpoke to begin expanding and renovating the kitchen space to provide more healthful meals for large groups. Plans include expanding the kitchen space; introducing an eight-burner range and commercial grade refrigerator, dishwasher and freezer; and adding counter/cupboard space. The commercial size refrigerator and freezer in particular would allow storage of more fresh food such as produce and dairy items to prepare and serve more healthful meals. 

This expanded kitchen space will play a direct role in the mental health services children experience at HopeSpoke. A larger kitchen can provide opportunities for children to engage not only in eating together but in learning to prepare healthful, homemade meals and snacks, nutrition being a critical component of mental health. Group meal preparation also can be an opportunity to practice the social skills for eating in the school cafeteria, at the family dinner table, and while eating out. Learning to make healthy food can be a positive coping skill for future use. Children's families also could participate in meal prep to learn healthier options while exploring cooking as a fun family activity. A larger, more useful kitchen also would allow for increasing capacity to serve more children. 

This kitchen expansion project would add to an already robust mental health service for children that is unique to Lincoln. Extended Day Treatment focuses on the issues behind a child's behaviors, such as destructive tendencies, opposition, and withdrawal. These behaviors are often the result of underlying trauma or attachment issues. Children participate for 4 hours every weekday, after class during the school year and 9-1 during the summer. The length of care is tailored to the child, typically 4 to 6 months. In addition to individual sessions with licensed therapists, children participate in group therapy, family therapy, art and play activities designed to help them successfully navigate day-to-day social experiences. Working with caring therapists and staff, children learn to develop genuine relationships, strengthen their coping and emotional regulation skills, and improve overall functioning. HopeSpoke, formerly Child Guidance Center, is the expert in mental health care for children, providing services since 1949.

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