In mid-March, the Child and Family Guidance Center leadership opted to start waiving fees for those who were uninsured or at risk of losing insurance, amid the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.


Now, will be able to provide mental health counseling and therapy service to those in need thanks in part to a $10,000 donation.


The center recently announced that it has received a $10,000 donation from Diamond Insurance as a part of the Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance Make More Happen awards.


“This grant award that we received couldn’t have come at a better time for the center,” CFGC Executive Director Brenda Hayward said Friday. “We chose mid-March to esive fees for anyone who is uninsured or losing their insurance due to job loss.


“Typically we have a sliding scale fee where people pay based on their ability to pay and their income. We waived all of that.”


The center, which provides mental health services with a focus on families and children, typically provides about 200 therapy and counseling sessions a week. About a quarter of these sessions have had fees waived under this change.


Hayward said this change came near the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. as the center took steps to prevent potential spread of the disease.


“As COVID-19 increased, and as safety and social distancing became a reality, we realized we were going to have to convert 100 percent to a telehealth model,” she said, describing the use of video calls in a medical setting.


At that same time, Hayward said the center saw many clients decline to take services due to job loss and local conditions.


“We could tell that it was a money issue more than anything,” she said. “That is when we decided that we need to be more for our families now than ever before.”


In addition to providing care for those in need across Texoma, Hayward said the donation can assist in getting counselors the experience they need.


The center employs a team of licensed professional counselor interns who need to earn their hours. However, the center is unable to bill Medicaid for these services.


With this donation, Hayward said the center can use these counselors and still maintain funding for the services.


Hayward said she is uncertain how long the center will be able to continue waiving these fees, but she expects it should be through August, at least.


“We said (we do it) through April, and then we said through May,” she said. “Now, we are saying through June. We are taking it at one month at a time because cases in our community are going up.”


Beyond this donation, Hayward said she is working to fundraise for this service and the general operations of the center. The group’s annual fundraiser, the Starfish Benefit, is expected to be held in August as a virtual platform.


“We have have funding sources in our community that support us — local foundations — and we’ve been blessed to have their support each year,” she said.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.