THE CHILDREN'S DAY UNIT
The Child and Adolescent Day Unit formally opened in June, 1989 at NYSPI. Research at the Day Unit, under the direction of Dr. Moira Rynn, is designed to provide researchers in child psychiatry a unique opportunity to initiate and develop innovative treatment for childhood mental disorders within a highly controlled but nurturing environment. Children in need of intensive psychiatric treatment may continue to live at home while being treated without hospitalization. They can remain in their own schools while participating in treatment studies or, if indicated, they may attend regular classes at PS 186X, a special education arm of the New York City Board of Education that is located within the Unit. Detailed and reliable medical and psychosocial observations are made by highly trained personnel without significant interruption in the youngsters' lives or education. Having the children on site allows for careful observation of responses to research treatments.
The Unit, which is equipped to do psychiatric evaluations, psychological tests, neurological workups, and psychosocial and education assessments, is open to youngsters from ages 6 to 18. The goal of the Unit is to conduct research on the full range of childhood and adolescent mental disorders.
Currently the unit is investigating a medication used to treat psychotic symptoms in adolescents. In another study the rate of weight gain in adolescents taking anti-psychotic medications is being investigated. When a youngster is admitted to the CDU the unit does a complete diagnostic work-up. Planning for discharge is given priority from the time of admission to ensure appropriate after-care with a view towards gradual improvement once stability is achieved at the Children's Day Unit.
Social Work clinicians and graduate social work interns are active members of a multidisciplinary team that provides services at the Day Unit. In addition to family assessment and intervention when needed, both social worker and graduate students act as primary therapist for some cases, assuming full responsibility for treatment planning and implementation. There are opportunities to become involved in research studies that will be in operation in the near future.
Social Work students are a welcome and important part of the Day Unit program and have made valuable contributions to the service.