At its March 4 meeting, the Hyattsville City Council voted unanimously to enter into a contract with the Hope Center for Wellness to provide an array of free mental health services to children and youth. The city will use American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds, not to exceed $100,000, to pay for these services. 

Council documents state that the city’s Children and Youth Mental Health Wellness Initiative aims to “offer preventive mental health methods, social-emotional workshops, educational opportunities, and counseling services at no cost for children/youth and their families experiencing mental health challenges.” The contract is for one year “with the possibility of annual renewals not to exceed five years.” 

According to its website, the Hope Center opened in 2017 and “is a multicultural and bilingual mental health practice focused on holistic healing of individuals and communities, and strengthening the programmatic and clinical skills of organizations, schools, and government agencies.” Its founder, Cheryl Aguilar, won the National Association of Social Workers Metro DC Chapter 2023 Social Worker of the Year award

The Hope Center’s proposed annual budget for the program includes $60,000 for individual, parent-child or family therapy sessions for 25 children and youth, $25,000 for expressive interventions groups and $4,600 to provide mental health workshops. The city put out a request for proposals on Jan. 29, and the proposal submitted by the Hope Center was the only one the city received. 

Hyattsville Community Services Director Sandra Shephard said in an email that the goal is for the mental health program to start by this summer.