DALLAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) - A 2019 health study found that families living in the 75216 zip code of South Oak Cliff needed better access to mental and physical healthcare—families like Jennifer Cervantes'.
"There's just a need for access to care that is just not available, so families are often having to drive sometimes 10,15, 20 minutes—sometimes even 30 or 40 minutes—downtown to get care," said Dallas ISD's Executive Director of Mental Health Services Dr. Tracey Brown.
Cervantes one of the first patients at the new T.D. Marshall Youth and Family center in South Oak Cliff.
"She's saying that she would go to a clinic called 'Mi Doctor' down by Wynwood Village and now this one is much closer to her," said a nurse translating for Jennifer's mom, Maria Cervantes.
This is the thirteenth and largest youth and family center Dallas ISD has opened across the district.
Families can now enter the doors and access both mental and physical healthcare, often within walking distance of their homes and schools.
"On one side of the building, there's mental health services," Brown said. "We have licensed therapists that are providing individual and family counseling and therapy."
The facility has six therapy rooms, a calming room and even a play therapy room.
"COVID brought on a lot of challenges for our students," Brown continued. "First of all, it removed them from a social environment where they would normally receive support on a day-to-day basis so students returning to the classroom, there was a lot of anxiety."
That's why mental health care is so needed right now.
"The space gives us an opportunity to bring in the whole family and so we can provide the family sessions that are needed," Brown said.
And on the other side of the center, there's a health clinic run by Los Barrios Unidos, equipped with exam rooms, where families can come for sick care, testing and even shots.
"This is life and death for a lot of our students and their families so, just being able to provide care on a day-to-day basis makes a huge difference," Brown concluded.
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