4 Ways Parents/Guardians Can Create Positive Structure for Kids in the Summer

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Summer is finally here! But while kids are likely excited to have a few months off school, parents and guardians might be worried that the unstructured freedom of the summer months can take a toll on their children’s behavior or academics moving forward. We asked our team of clinicians at YDC to discuss ways that parents and guardians can create a sense of structure for their children while keeping things fun and preparing them for the upcoming school year at the same time.

Here's what they had to say:

Routine is Key!
Think about food and sleep as two vital pillars for your child's daily structure in the summer, a time when kids might stay up past their bedtimes, sleep until much later than normal, and eat at off-times. A sense of a schedule (albeit one that can be flexible depending on what's going on day-to-day!) will keep your child feeling positive and inspired to engage in activities.

Productive Play
Let your kids enjoy the weather and the outdoors! Depending your schedule, a great way to keep them active and social during the summer is by enrolling them in sports or other camps. In this way, children not only get physical exercise, but they also learn about team building and other skills. Organizations like the YMCA, Salvation Army, and Boys and Girls Club will have more information on programs and camps that are free or of little charge.

Read, Read, Read!
The summer months offer a perfect opportunity to fortify and enhance your child’s reading skills. The Newark Public Library offers an array of summer reading programs like the Summer Reading Challenge, during which children log reading times and receive incentives. The best part is that an NPL library card is free for Newark residents! Don’t have time to go to the library? We suggest creating a book club with your child. Create a reading schedule and discuss important themes to get the conversation started and keep them engaged. 

Spend Quality Time Together
We know parents and guardians lead busy lives, often balancing work, taking care of their children, and much more. But of course, it’s important to carve out some quality time with your child for their overall healthy emotional development. Plan activities that foster a sense of bonding when possible. If on a tight budget, activities like having a picnic in the park, going to a museum, or visiting the beach, are free or low cost. The idea is to create memories that your child can look back on fondly, knowing they have a loving parent in their lives to support them in whatever challenges that academics or life may present.

We hope you have a great summer! 

Quarterly Message from YDC Executive Director Mark Kitzie, PsyD


As we approach our 60th anniversary this November, it is worthwhile to pause and reexamine our roots.  In 1958, the Youth Development Clinic of Newark was incorporated with the support of Prudential Insurance Co. and the Newark Board of Education. The original statement of purpose is below: 

“To maintain a service or clinic to which Newark children under the age of 21 years, and adults from Service Area 4 may apply or be referred for diagnosis, case treatment of and for mental emotional disturbances or illnesses; to assist by every lawful means the dissemination of information regarding the work of the said service and/or clinic; to work in cooperation with other agencies and individuals interested in the welfare of children toward the end that the mental health of all persons: in the community, and particularly of its children, shall be safeguarded and promoted; and to foster interest among its members and throughout said community in, and develop supports for, the work of the clinic in order to increase its scope and effectiveness”. 

The YDC office was originally located at 990 Broad Street then moved to 303-309 Washington Street, then to Columbia Street, and after being displaced to make room for the Prudential Center, to its present location at 500 Broad Street.  

Today, we find ourselves in a very different climate, but the main tenets of our original mission remain: to provide high-quality mental health services to the children and families of Newark and deliver these services in community settings. Just as our mission has little changed, we have reclaimed our original name: Youth Development Clinic of Newark, which provides important continuity and name recognition.   

We continue to “keep the mission alive” through a renewed emphasis on serving clients with Medicaid insurance, as well as clients referred by child protective services in our community-based mental health clinic.  In fact, demand has increased to the extent that we are looking at securing additional space to accommodate rapidly increasing numbers of children and families requesting services.  In addition, we are working in five Newark schools to provide behavioral and mental health support to students.   

Thanks to all our funders and supporters – you’re needed more now than ever.  Also, thank you to our extraordinary and highly capable group of clinicians and administrators who are passionate about the work we do.  Finally, I hope that you will continue to consider yourself as part of the “YDC family”.  Here’s to continuing to grow and adapt for another 60 years! 

Mark Kitzie, PsyD
Executive Director
Youth Development Clinic of Newark

YDC Stories: How Treatment Can Make Significant Differences in Patients’ Lives

Important note: Patient names and any other potentially identity-revealing information has been changed.

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Referred by his school, Javier needed ways to cope and concentrate in an overwhelming environment.

A shy yet vibrant 6-year-old who was diagnosed with both autism spectrum disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Javier was referred to the Youth Development Clinic due to behavioral concerns at school.

News of Javier’s in-school difficulties came as a surprise to his mother, who reported that at home and in other settings, he was doing quite well and was, in fact, making strides. But the school environment was different – and it was difficult for Javier, which is not uncommon for children who experience challenges like his. They’re often overstimulated in school and have weaknesses in terms of emotional regulation and social skills (only adding to the stress of it all).

At the clinic, one of our clinicians used a patient and structured behavior modification approach with Javier, helping him gain improved coping skills, attention, and concentration. He was also able to increasingly verbally express his emotions. Though a quiet child in general, his communicativeness increased throughout his time at YDC. He was able to meet all of the established treatment goals and significantly decrease instances of behavioral issues in school.


Brittany worked hard to heal and gain self-confidence during her time at YDC.

After being discharged from a local medical center due to severe symptoms of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide, Brittany – in her teens – was referred for therapy with our experienced clinicians. One such clinician working with Brittany identified two major treatment goals: 1) decrease frequency and intensity of feelings of sadness and anxiety to no more than once per week, and 2) develop a more positive view of the self by reducing feelings of unworthiness and replacing them with beliefs that were more realistic and positive.

By the end of her treatment, Brittany displayed significant improvement in both areas, demonstrating sincere feelings of self-satisfaction and an ability to engage in positive peer relationships – something she did not feel worthy of just a short time before. She reported experiencing feelings of despair and anxiety far less often, in large part due to techniques like positive self-talk, mindfulness, and dialectical behavior therapy techniques, which she was able to apply consistently in order to stay healthy. By the end of her treatment at YDC, she no longer reported suicidal thoughts and was much better equipped to manage typical stressors, having built sustainable social supports.  


Learn more about our in-clinic, outpatient services in Newark, NJ.

2017 In Review: Open House & Outside Community Events

Here at the Youth Development Clinic, we’re dedicated to providing behavioral health services for children and families in Newark, Essex County, and surrounding communities. Our clinic is located in downtown Newark and we’re proud of our space and host events multiple times per year to give members of the community a chance to check it out in person. Most recently, we hosted an Open House in the late fall.

Aside from our own, we think it’s important to attend events in the community. We were able to go to several health and family-related events in 2017 and have big plans for the current year, too. One of our major goals year-over-year is to get out into the community, meet new people, learn about other organizations, and share information about the mental health services we provide.

Here are some of the local events we attended in 2017:

YMCA Health-O-Ween
Halloween event promoting health and awareness for the children in the community.


YMCA Healthy Kids Fair
Held at Military Park, promoting health, wellness, and outdoor activities for children and families in the community.


Teen Parent Summit
Hosted by Program for Parents, the summit took place at the Paul Robeson Center at Rutgers University, Newark.


Health Day at Paradise Baptist Church
Community health day. 


We also attended the 1st Annual Community Health Fair hosted by SPANNJ, the 2nd Annual Community Health and Wellness Fair hosted by Seton Hall Nursing School, the Healthy Kids Day event hosted by Nat Turner Park, the Community Health Fair hosted by the Salvation Army, and the Health Fair at Newark's One Stop Career Center hosted by WellCare NJ.

It was an awesome year and we're looking forward to seeing everyone at events in 2018!

5 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children with School-Related Stress


With the school year in full swing, various pressures could be mounting into stressors in the lives of students. They might be having difficulty managing their homework load, or could be struggling with certain social activities or interactions, or maybe they’re having trouble with a certain teacher or subject. The possibilities are many and might vary, but the good news is that parents can help reduce this stress by taking some concrete steps at home.

We asked our staff clinicians for ways parents could do just that, and below reflects what they suggest. Even if your child isn’t showing obvious signs of stress, these steps can help prevent it from coming on or might help address issues they're not even processing or communicating quite yet.

1) Open Communication - Ask questions about your child’s day, schoolwork, friends, teachers, etc. Be sure that they’re open-ended questions instead of simple yes or no. This helps create a positive dialogue with your child about school, which, in turn, helps build trust and an open channel for your child to discuss their worries and concerns with you. Perhaps discuss school issues and concerns over hot chocolate or any other comforting food or drink that will help your child relax and feel more open to talking.

2) Get Involved with school activities, which helps you get to know their teachers so that you can advocate for your child when necessary. Build good relationships with school staff and parents. Create an open line of communication with them that sets the tone that parent, children, and teachers are all part of the same team.

3) Create a Routine – Reduce stress related to homework, tests, and projects by creating a routine at home during which you set a time and space aside (as often as necessary) to help them get their work done in a relaxing way.

4) Time Management – As you work with your child to create a routine that works for everyone, help them break down their school work in chunks and tasks to be completed. Use calendars and planners to think ahead and keep track of due dates. Don’t put emphasis on how big or small the assignments are, just focus on getting them done, one at a time.

5) Back to Basics: Nutrition – A balanced meal goes a long way in helping your child keep their focus on school tasks. Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep time by limiting usage of phones, laptops, tablets, and TV. A good sleeping schedule and nutritious meals can help reduce stress while at school and increase focus.


For more on our staff clinicians, visit our team page

Quarterly Message from our Executive Director

Happy New Year to all our friends and supporters!

It’s been a year of challenges at the Youth Development Clinic as we’ve transitioned leadership, and with that, our central focus to building our core business – our community clinic. We are concurrently focusing on rebuilding and re-branding our community-based partnerships and our relationships with funders in order to put us on solid footing to carry our mission forward.  

That mission is an important and worthy one – to provide high quality, evidence-based, and culturally-informed services to an underserved population. Due to our community outreach efforts, the quality of our clinicians, and our high level of client satisfaction, we have doubled the number of clients that we are able to see at the clinic. We continue to grow rapidly, expanding our clinic hours to include Fridays, as well as looking at adding additional space to our clinic as we reach capacity.  

With our growth, we have hired several new clinicians, expanding our ability to provide services to Creole and Portuguese families while maintaining our strong Bi-lingual/Spanish services and sensitivity to the cultural and systems factors which underlie our work with African-American families.   

Our ability to deliver on this mission is bolstered by our relationships with Montclair State University and other academic institutions. This coming year, one of our goals is to partner with university faculty to identify and implement cutting-edge treatments and interventions in our clinic and school-based settings. We also continue our strong externship program that trains doctoral-level students to develop skills to work effectively with underserved populations.  

In an effort to increase accessibility to mental health services to children and families, we have established our first school-based, Medicaid-approved clinic in a K-5 school in Newark. This is an exciting achievement in that we will be able to not only work with students, but with families, almost all of which are in walking distance of the school. We hope to replicate this model going forward.

Other school-based services that we provide include supporting student behaviors conducive to learning while working with teachers on classroom management and developing more positive interactions with students. We currently provide services in three K-8 schools and one K-3 school in Newark.  

Needless to say, this is all possible only with the continued support of our funders. Thank you to all who lend support to our mission. If you are able to contribute, your time or financial support is most welcome and appreciated. As of this year, it’s been 60 years since our founding. Let’s continue to make a difference – together – for another 60!

Mark Kitzie, PsyD
Executive Director
Youth Development Clinic