As I reflect on this past year, like many of you, I never imagined we would be living under such trying circumstances. With dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice and the economic hardships that have accompanied them, this has been a year of great loss, uncertainty and confusion. In the midst of this, it has been hard to hold on to the points of light and hope we all need to sustain our spirits. However, as 2020 (thankfully) comes to a close, and as we continue to adapt to the changing world of Safer at Home orders and tele-psychiatry, I am thrilled by how well our clinical teams are engaging with clients, how well our staff is adapting to working from home and how well our donors and community supporters have carried us through.

Despite everything we. . .

• shifted our service delivery model to primarily provide telehealth care via Zoom or by telephone. Our staff went above and beyond to meet the needs of our clients, including seeing our most vulnerable children in the office – sitting six feet apart and wearing masks but still together. And, when there was a serious crisis such as a suicidal child we needed to hospitalize, we went to the home in the safest way possible to help them.

• distributed more than $50,000 through grants, events and individual donations in emergency assistance for our current clients who are struggling to provide critical basic needs, such as helping a mother buy groceries for her children or a caregiver pay rent so they don’t lose their home.

• provided more than 500 children in Long Beach, ages 0-17, with play therapy toolkits to help them express difficult emotions and heal through creatively confronting real-life conflicts. The kits included: art supplies, card games such as Uno or Lotería, journals, mindfulness coloring books and stress balls.

• created two task forces focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The first task force is a micro-level task force that looks internally, ensuring that we are genuinely a culturally competent organization in all our practices. The second task force is a macro-level task force that looks externally outside of our agency for opportunities to make policy and practice change within local government.

• provided mental health services at two shelter locations. The first location was at Silverado Park, a congregate, shelter-in-place site for 46 individuals experiencing homelessness. The second location was through a program called Project Room Key, which is a collaborative effort with the State, County and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to secure hotel and motel rooms for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. Our Public Safety Clinician provided on-site mental health support to anyone who needed it.

On behalf of our board of directors and staff, thank you for being an advocate for children’s mental health and helping us get through this very challenging year. I am encouraged and reminded that the work we do matters. I ask that you continue supporting us in the new year and help us keep providing hope to those who need it most. Here’s to a brighter future in 2021!

It’s not too late to make one last donation for this year to The Guidance Center and ensure families in our community have the help they need to thrive.

Give online at:
Give via text: text “GIVEHOPE” to 562-262-5689



Patricia Costales, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer