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Serving Durham's growing school-aged Latino population


Understanding our growing diversity

While the first Latino immigrants to the Durham area were mostly young men arriving without families, the population is rapidly shifting, with pre-school and school-aged children now the fastest-growing segment of the Durham Latino population. These children often face difficulties acclimating to school, and face barriers that include language, cultural differences, and resettlement into a foreign environment.

Breaking down barriers

Created in 2006, BieneSTAR, a grant program from Caring Across Communities, national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, seeks to:

  • Prevent and reduce exacerbation of mental health disorders of children by providing mental health education and outreach to parents and school personnel with special emphasis on immigrant children and families; and
  • Create sustainable mental health services, including early identification and counseling, which are accessible, culturally competent, and integrated into school services, with special emphasis on immigrant at-risk children.

BieneSTAR operates in conjunction with School Based Health Clinics (SBHCs) at three Durham Public schools: Glenn Elementary, E.K. Powe Elementary, and George Watts Elementary, as well as El Centro Hispano, to provide bilingual/bi-cultural prevention activities, early intervention services, and direct mental health services to students. By building on existing services through existing agencies, BieneSTAR ensures that there is coordinated, consistent care, education, and outreach for children and their families in Durham.

Prevention and Early Intervention

BieneSTAR attends to newly immigrated children early in their orientation to school to provide culturally and developmentally appropriate activities that support a child's resilience and innate strength. BieneSTAR's prevention programs include:

  • Child groups inclusive of immigrant and non-immigrant children that provide peer support, and assistance with cultural and school adjustments.
  • Parent and family groups that assist family members and caregivers with orientation to school, address their needs from both a cultural and mental health perspective, and offer information on local health and social services resources.
  • In-service education programs to school administrators, counselors, and ESL educators from each of the schools to help them assess and respond to staff requests regarding children's mental health issues in children, as well as how to maintain classroom discipline, deal with children with emerging behavioral needs, and cope with their own job-related stress.
  • Referrals from teachers and administrative staff based on descriptions of behavior and needs
  • Family/teacher consultation
  • Assessment of the child's social-emotional well being

Direct Mental Health Service

BieneSTAR's bilingual/bi-cultural mental health services and mental health education activities are culturally and developmentally appropriate and grounded in a strong theoretical model that provides the necessary supports for adaptation and adjustment. A bilingual Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) provides mental health screening and full assessments for children who are exhibiting behavioral and emotional difficulty and may be appropriate for group, family, or individual mental health treatment services. The LCSW discusses the results with the child's parents or guardians, and develops a mental health treatment plan, or refers the family to other mental health services to meet the child's needs.

By integrating BieneSTAR's three components, the partner organizations are creating a lasting continuum of care that can be successful for families especially those new to the country and our community.

BieneSTAR Partners include:

  • Durham Public Schools: Glenn Elementary, E K Powe Elementary, George Watts Elementary
  • El Centro Hispano
  • Center for Child and Family Health
  • Duke Community Health

For more information:

Division of Community Health
Department of Community & Family Medicine
Duke University Medical Center
DUMC Box 104425
Durham, NC 27710
Phone: 919-681-6079
Fax: 919-613-6899