The Cohen Children’s Northwell School Behavioral Health Partnership is a collaboration between Long Island school districts and Cohen Children’s Medical Center, the top-rated children’s hospital in New York State and part of the Northwell Health system.  The Partnership will provide Wantagh School District families with prompt access to mental health services for students as well as valuable resources to support the emotional health and well-being of students.  Following the pandemic, we are experiencing a pediatric mental health crisis with an escalating need for mental health services but a shortage of providers and lack of access to mental health care. The Behavioral Health Partnership will be an important key to mental health wellness for the students and families of Wantagh.

Where a Behavioral Health Partnership is in place, the Northwell team works closely with school psychologists and counselors to help determine the various needs of students in the district.  The Partnership is centered around two new Behavioral Health Centers that provide timely access to mental health services for school-aged children and adolescents who need urgent mental health support.  The Centers are designed as an alternative treatment setting for those who need urgent or same-day intervention, but do not necessarily require the services of a hospital emergency room. The Cohen Children’s Northwell Behavioral Health Centers are exclusively available for the students of partnering districts.  There are many Nassau County school districts currently participating in this initiative, including: Garden City, Great Neck, Herricks, Jericho, Locust Valley, Manhasset, Mineola, Roslyn, Sewanhaka, and Uniondale, which are being served at the Behavioral Health Center in Mineola; and East Rockaway, Freeport, Hewlett-Woodmere, Lawrence, Oceanside, Rockville Centre, Valley Stream CHS, and West Hempstead, which are being served at the Behavioral Health Center in Rockville Centre.  Behavioral Health Centers can be accessed by families directly as well as through referrals from their participating school.  The Partnership will provide community and professional education and a close collaborative relationship between clinical and administrative teams of the participating district and the Northwell team.

The Behavioral Health Center will support Wantagh School District families by connecting them with care providers.  It is important to note that a child cannot be sent to a Behavioral Health Center without the knowledge of a parent or guardianThe care at a Behavioral Health Center is fully voluntary and confidential and requires the consent and participation of a parent or guardian for all minors.  The benefits of Wantagh School District families having access to the Behavioral Health Centers will include:

  • With parental consent, timely access to care for students in crisis with the ability to avoid hospitals and emergency departments by instead accessing the Behavioral Health Center
  • With parental consent, families can access ongoing care referrals, consultation support and evaluations for at-risk students
  • With parental consent, the team provides clinical assessments with recommendations for the types of care that would most benefit the student
  • With parental consent, the team also provides short-term crisis management and therapy while families and students await linkage with community providers

Should a student receive care at a Behavioral Health Center, the school district would not get a report from Northwell.  Families will maintain full confidentiality rights and it will be a parent’s choice to determine what information, if any, is shared with the school district.  Even if a parent chooses to sign a release for the Northwell team and the school to communicate, the medical record generated during visits will only be shared with the family and never with a school district; medical records are not sent to the school and will only be shared with parents upon their request.  Further, school administration and school clinical staff will have no control or jurisdiction over the medical and therapeutic recommendations made by the Northwell Behavioral Health Center team.

The Behavioral Health Partnership will provide community and professional education on mental health services.  Parents will be provided with a monthly school mental health community newsletter highlighting information about monthly events, workshops, webinars, lectures, and additional resources including Behavioral Health Tip Sheets for parents on a wide variety of important topics such as: ADHD, Bullying, Digital Parenting, Eating Disorders, LGBTQ Health, Major Depressive Disorder, Mindfulness, Non-Suicidal Self-Injurious Behavior, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Panic Attacks, School Avoidance/Refusal, Substance Abuse in Teenagers, Suicidal Ideation, Trauma, and Validation.

Having emerged from the pandemic and moving forward, it is crucial to confront the serious issues that impact our children’s lives and provide them with quality mental health support and services.  The Cohen Children’s Northwell School Behavioral Health Partnership will be of immeasurable service to the families and students of the Wantagh School District, resulting in a community of healthy individuals that are truly WANTAGH STRONG.

About the Article: This article comprises information about the Cohen Children’s Northwell School Behavioral Health Partnership published by Northwell Health and currently participating school districts.  For more information, please visit: