Flint, MI—Genesee Health System (GHS) has unveiled a new children’s facility in Flint, Mich. 

The facility, called the Center for Children’s Integrated Services (CCIS), houses services for children and families including diagnostic assessments, treatment and support.

Danis Russell, CEO of GHS, Genesee County’s public mental health provider, said the new space isn’t only a place for Flint children and families to receive the services they need, but it also represents their value to the community. 

“It can serve as a symbol that there is hope here, and that they are important and people do care about them,” Russell said.  

Danis Russell, CEO of Genesee Health System, poses for a photo with local leaders before he cuts the ribbon at the Center for Children’s Integrated Services in Flint, Mich. on Nov. 18, 2022. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)
People attend the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Genesee Health System Center for Children’s Integrated Services in Flint, Mich. on Nov. 18, 2022. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)

CCIS broke ground in June 2021 and cost roughly $23 million to build. Its construction was funded through foundation grants, tax credits, public funds and GHS internal operational funds. Greater Flint Children’s Mental Health Facilities, Inc. owns the building while GHS is responsible for its operations.

The 60,000 square-foot facility, located at 1402 S. Saginaw St., includes an expansive area known as the Learning Center, which will start serving children with autism spectrum disorder on Nov. 28, 2022. 

Inside the center are learning pods for individuals and groups, as well as a training room, also known as the mock apartment, for children to work on their independent living skills, such as cleaning, making a bed and folding and hanging clothes.

The center also has an outdoor therapeutic learning and play space. 

The training room, or mock apartment, at the Center for Children’s Integrated Services Learning Center in Flint, Mich. is seen on Nov. 18, 2022. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)
The learning pods at the Center for Children’s Integrated Services Learning Center in Flint, Mich. are seen on Nov. 18, 2022. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)
A large learning pod at the Center for Children’s Integrated Services Learning Center in Flint, Mich. is seen on Nov. 18, 2022. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)

Emily West, a case manager at the Learning Center, said it is “really exciting” to see the designs of center, which cater to the needs of children with autism. 

“There are dimmed lights, so that provides an opportunity for them to be in a sensory-friendly environment,” West explained. “Each pod is sound-proof, so the sound doesn’t carry. In previous spaces, we’ve had a lot of echoing and stuff like that, so sound-proof pods are really going to help with their sensory-related needs.” 

CCIS also houses the child and family primary care services of the Genesee Community Health Center, an agency that provides physical health services to the community. It plans to begin offering child and family primary care services to the public at CCIS beginning in February 2023.

The CCIS’s Assessment Clinic, however, has already opened its doors to patients. The clinic’s services include diagnostic evaluations and recommendations for interventions for children.

According to Amelia Fonger, director of behavioral supports at GHS, testing is focused on lead exposure from the Flint water crisis, as well as autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. 

A testing hallway at the Center for Children’s Integrated Services Assessment Clinic in Flint, Mich. is seen on Nov. 18, 2022. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)
An observation room facing a testing room at the Center for Children’s Integrated Services Assessment Clinic is seen on Nov. 18, 2022. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)

As Fonger reflected on the new facility for staff and the community, she recalled participating in a tour during its construction and how elated she felt about the space. 

“I literally had to stop myself from doing this little cheer, because clinically, this space is set up in a way that is like the dream,” Fonger said. 

“This is just a really exciting place for not only the staff—we love it—but also [for] our kids and families,” she continued. “We’ve made the best out of the spaces that we’ve had, and this celebrates our families.”

Nicholas Chan

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...

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