New wellness clinic will serve South Tahoe Middle School |

New wellness clinic will serve South Tahoe Middle School

Ashleigh Goodwin /

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Tahoe Middle School will soon have a wellness clinic.

Sierra Child & Family Services is a local nonprofit with its main focus on collective experience and interests directed at providing for the care and welfare of children.

The nonprofit opened a wellness clinic in partnership with El Dorado County Behavioral Health, Lake Tahoe Unified School District and Tahoe Youth and Family Services a month before school ended last year at South Tahoe High School. In less than a month the middle school will have one too. 

Sierra Child & Family Services Wellness Center Supervisor and Licensed Clinical Social worker Carolyn Eckholm said, “The main goal [of the clinics on campus] is to support students to navigate to community resources that are needed. The clinics are open 12 months out of the year to support students in overall mental and emotional wellness capacity.”

In addition to the office hours during the day the Wellness Centers also have a website with resources available any time of day or night; crisis resources, activities, a virtual calm down room and more.

Miguel Porcayo will be working under the supervision of Eckholm as he works to complete his Masters in social work. Porcayo will be a Wellness Center clinician for the middle school performing assessments, group therapy sessions, and helping students to process while in crisis. Porcayo is in the last three months of school with approximately 225 hours completed out of the required 450.

Having a trained clinician on campus provides a safe space to decompress when children are struggling in real time, Porcayo told the Tribune.

“Let’s say they’re having a bad day, or they need a 10-15 minute break, peer counseling, crisis intervention, help stabilize the student and then see what they are looking for long term to help them find the resources they need,” Porcayo said. 

Porcayo said another expectation is to follow through with students to ensure the services are received and emphasized the organization’s interest in feedback in order to get the students in touch with the right resources.

If students need to wait to be connected fully with the resources Porcayo said they keep working with them in the interim.

“If they have insurance and they are waiting for a service to open up we are able to create groups for support for those students,” he said. “If there’s a need we see specifically ranging from anxiety, grief and loss, life skills, whatever that looks like to help them until then.” 

Employees are preparing to open the new office to open near the end of September and are currently adding final touches on the area to make it look and feel like a wellness clinic. 

“We know the mental health system isn’t always perfect so it’s important to get feedback and when necessary to help find other support in other ways,” Porcayo said. “It takes a village to raise a child, it’s an honor to be taking care of our community.”

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