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Wednesday: New home for teen counseling center

Adolescent Counseling Services relocating from Palo Alto to Redwood City

After getting priced out of its former offices in eastern Palo Alto, Adolescent Counseling Services has found a new home, with a three-year lease, at 643 Bair Island Road in Redwood City, said Aarika Riddle, Adolescent Counseling Services marketing and advancement director.

The nonprofit, which provides counseling to youth ages 10 to 25, will host a grand opening for its new offices on Tuesday, May 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event includes a tour of the offices, remarks by Executive Director Philippe Rey, plus mocktails and appetizers.

The new Redwood City offices will offer three programs: an LGBTQQ youth peer support program, community counseling, and substance abuse treatment. Substance abuse treatment programs are 12- or 16-week intensive outpatient programs, Ms. Riddle said.

The nonprofit will continue its other services offered at middle and high schools in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, and at its satellite locations in Mountain View, San Mateo and Palo Alto. Schools where counseling services are offered on-campus are Redwood and Woodside high schools, La Entrada Middle School, and all of the middle and high schools in the Palo Alto Unified School District.

Group services for LGBTQQ youth are held in Mountain View and San Mateo. In Palo Alto, limited after-hours, appointment-only counseling services will be offered from 4 to 10 p.m. Thanks to a county agreement, the organization can use a Santa Clara County building on Grant Avenue in Palo Alto, Ms. Riddle said.

Its struggle to find an affordable place to set up shop is not a unique one to nonprofits in the Bay Area, she said. "Landlords could be getting a much higher fee from for-profit companies," she said. The challenge is to make sure that money the organization raises will go toward services rather than rent.

While the organization receive funds from foundations, corporations and individuals, it also uses a sliding payment scale for clients, so families that can afford services help offset costs of those that can't.

The nonprofit is trying to increase its services to 30 percent more clients, and is making an effort to reach more youth in San Mateo County, Ms. Riddle said. That's because there are fewer youth-focused counseling providers in San Mateo County than in Santa Clara County, she said. Statistics indicate that one in five youths struggles with some form of mental health issue, she said, so there is still more demand for services.

The organization said it served more than 2,600 youths directly and 7,655 indirectly through outreach and education programs during its 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Adolescent Counseling Services is staffed by about 20 paid employees and 40 to 50 marriage and family therapist interns who are graduate or postgraduate students working to earn their requisite 3,000 hours on the job in order to become licensed. Interns gain hands-on experience with supervision and training over the year-long program, Ms. Riddle said, and many return for a second or third year.

Teens are encouraged to seek help when they are having trouble with a friend at school, dealing with a parent's divorce, or facing depression, substance abuse on thoughts of hurting themselves. They can call (650) 424-0852 or email info@acs-teens.org for more information.

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