Brave Buddies FAQ

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Brave Buddies Program and what to expect if your child participates.

Who is eligible to participate in Brave Buddies?

Children diagnosed with selective mutism (SM) between the ages 3-12 years old are invited to join the Brave Buddies℠ program. Multi-day programs are open to current, former and new patients who have been determined to be eligible by the clinical team at the Child Mind Institute.

Your child does not need to be a current or prior patient at the Child Mind Institute to participate in the Brave Buddies weeklong program. For new families, a screening appointment by video call with one of our clinical staff will help determine if Brave Buddies is appropriate for your child.

Do you treat children older than 12?

Yes, we absolutely do; however, the Brave Buddies program is for children up to age 12. Please call us to discuss the treatments we offer, which include traditional individual treatment, intensive treatments, and school consultation. Our clinicians will develop a tailored treatment plan to address your child’s individual needs.

Is financial aid available?

Yes, qualifying families may be eligible for financial aid. Please request a separate Child Mind Institute Financial Aid Application. We will review your completed application and then establish your fee based on demonstrated financial need. Awards are made on a first-applied, first-served basis.

Will insurance cover the fees?

The Child Mind Institute does not participate as an in-network provider for any specific health insurance plan. Most insurance companies will cover a portion of the fees under “out-of-network, outpatient mental health benefits.” We will provide you with a detailed statement of services provided for you to submit your claim directly to your insurance carrier. We suggest consulting your insurance carrier in advance for the specific benefits of your plan.

Who are the staff and what is the ratio of counselors to children?

Our staff consists of specially trained clinicians, such as psychologists and social workers.  In addition, we intensively train volunteers in our evidence-based approaches so they can help support the program as counselors. Children are paired at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio.

What is a typical day like at Brave Buddies?

Brave Buddies follows the format of a typical school day, allowing children many opportunities to practice real-life challenges including morning meeting, peer to peer activities, show and tell or group presentations, community exposures and much more. Children earn ‘brave bucks’ for their talking and hard work, which they can turn in for prizes at the end of the day. We build on the previous day’s progress to continue your child’s progress during the week. For older children (8-12), we incorporate age appropriate activities, such as education about the nature of anxiety, goal setting and mindfulness.

Will there still be field trips this summer?

We will work in guidance with New York State and New York City regulations to ensure a safe and comfortable program for all. There is an abundance of outdoor opportunities and small trips to stores that we can take safely.

What is the purpose of lead-in sessions? Will they still happen this summer?

Lead-in sessions are an opportunity for your child to practice his or her brave talking before participating in the Brave Buddies group program. These sessions also allow your child to meet other Brave Buddies participants and counselors before the program begins. Additionally, these sessions allow the Brave Buddies leaders to better determine initial counselor matches for your child.

**Lead-ins for our upcoming August 2021 session will be held VIRTUALLY. We will follow the same model we have for the past year with our virtual program to introduce your children to our program, their counselors, and other children.

How will COVID impact Brave Buddies programming?

All children and staff will be required to wear masks and we will reduce our classroom capacity to reflect proper social distancing guidelines. During COVID, our field trips will likely be outside and we will limit the amount of people who can come into the school. We will modify our drop off and pick up routine to manage the flow of people and maintain safety. Drop off and pick up will occur outside of the school building as parents will not be permitted inside.

Parent training is an integral part of the program and will be held VIRTUALLY to reduce the number of people inside the building during the program.

We have plans in place that if one of our pods is exposed to the virus, we are prepared to shift to a fully remote program for that group. If we do need to move your child’s pod to a virtual format, they will need to have access to a tablet and/or computer to participate.

Do I have to quarantine before coming to Brave Buddies?

We ask that if you are traveling from out of state you follow the New York State and New York City travel and quarantine guidelines and follow those accordingly.

Is my child required to have a COVID test?

No, a test is not needed.  However, we do require that each child do a health screening each day of the program.  To automate health screenings, we are using a platform called Cleared4Work.  Parents will receive a text message each morning with a brief questionnaire about COVID-related symptoms, travel, exposure and daily temperature check for both parent and child. Cleared4Work will determine if you are “cleared” to report to Brave Buddies that day.

What are the payments, cancellation and refund policies?

We require payment in full to secure your child’s spot in the July virtual program. We require a 50% deposit to secure your child’s spot August program. The balance is due June 1, 2021. If a participant cannot attend the program, and a coordinate is notified within 30 days prior to the start of the program, a refund will be issues, minus a $300 non-refundable deposit for administrative fees. If less than 30 days notification is given, no refund will be provided.

No refunds will be issued if the August program moves to a virtual format once the program has started.