January 29, 2024

Empowering minds to help others thrive

Supporting behavioral and mental health in communities where needs are greatest.

Kaiser Permanente enables a Southern California school district to provide needed mental health services in a school-based setting.

In response to the growing challenges posed by the increasing social and emotional needs of its diverse student population, the Colton School District's Department of Behavioral and Mental Health has emerged as a strong source of student support.

Supporting academic, emotional, and social needs

Most students within the district come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and face unique obstacles that affect their mental and behavioral health. Recognizing this, and with ongoing financial help from Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools, the school district supports forward-thinking initiatives to help students and families work through these challenges. As a result, each student can better navigate the complexities of life both in and outside of the classroom.

“A key component of the district's success in achieving this goal is the Department of Behavioral and Mental Health Intern Program, a pioneering effort made possible through ongoing funding from our partnership with the school district,” said Georgina R. Garcia, RN, MS, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente in San Bernardino.

“Since 2017, this strategic collaboration has enabled the district to recruit a group of more than 200 qualified interns, including both master's and bachelor's social work level candidates from local universities. Funding will continue into 2024 and 2025.”

Testament to innovative approaches

Under the guidance of Colton School District professionals, interns bring fresh perspectives, innovative approaches, and a genuine commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of the students they serve. Through this intern program and the ongoing support of Kaiser Permanente, the district is empowering minds to help others thrive academically, emotionally, and socially.

"Providing mental health services through our internship program in a school-based setting has helped us address barriers to learning and to provide support so that all students can achieve at school and ultimately in life,” said Antonio Castro, licensed clinical social worker, director, Behavioral and Mental Health, Colton Joint Unified School District’s Department.

“Our work has also proven that schools are places where prevention and early intervention activities can occur in a non-stigmatizing environment," Antonio added.

"I'm very grateful for the services provided by this program,” said a parent of a student in the Colton School District. “I did not know how to support my child. I did not understand why he was misbehaving and struggling with suicidal thoughts. Our case manager and the interns helped me consult with my physician only to realize that my son had a diagnosis of ADHD. This team helped me to get the support my son needed. I will always be grateful to her and the program.”