Next Step Clinic

Executive Co-Director: Dr. Amy Vaughan Van Hecke

Executive Co-Director: Leah Jepson, MSW

What We Do:

Our clinic helps families in Milwaukee who have concerns about the mental health and developmental health of their children. We offer the following services:

Family Navigation

Our family navigators work with families through their whole time in the clinic. They conduct initial screenings for children's developmental or mental heath challenges, develop Family Care Plans to assess for household needs and any potential barriers to care, advocate for families to get their needs met, and assist families in navigating the mental and developmental service systems of Milwaukee.

Screening and Evaluation for Autism

We offer screening, evaluation, and the medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for children.

Therapy Services

Therapy services consist of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), that focuses on young children's difficult behaviors, emotion regulation, and the parent-child relationship. A Family Navigator will first conduct a screening to determine whether PCIT is an appropriate service for a child and family.  Services will be provided for parents and children with or without an Autism Diagnosis, with caregivers of children who are between the ages of 3 and 6 years old.  We also offer group-based Compassion and Resilience Training for caregivers of children with developmental and mental health needs.


Next Step Clinic is a graduate level Practicum Training site. We train future mental health professionals (doctoral clinical and doctoral school psychology), nurses, and medical providers in the services we offer through Next Step’s community-centered, community-academic partnership.


During this pandemic, we have moved to a telehealth format, where all appointments and contacts are done virtually. If you have any challenges with accessing the internet or devices, please let us know.  We aim to make our services accessible for all and this may be something we can work around! We don’t want this to be a reason why a family cannot receive the services they need.


Who We Serve:

Our clinic is in the Metcalfe Park neighborhood of Milwaukee, on the second floor of the Next Door Foundation, 2545 N. 29th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53210, to make services for families accessible. Our focus is on serving families who are underserved, who experience barriers to accessing services, including challenges due to race, income, ethnicity, geographic area, participation in the foster system, refugee status, and other reasons.

We provide services for families with children aged 15 months to 10 years; however, our goal is early identification and early intervention. If multiple children in a family need autism evaluation, and any of the children are over the age of 10, we will do our best to also evaluate the older children in that family.

Cost of Service:

Our services are currently free to Milwaukee families who are eligible for/receive public assistance, Badgercare, and/or Medicaid. Our goal is to make children’s developmental and mental health services accessible.

Referral Process:

If you are a concerned parent/caregiver, please contact us at 414-209-3631 or  You may state the age of your child, concerns you have, what services you’re interested in receiving (Family Navigation, Assessment, or Therapy) and a good time/number to contact you. You may also download a Referral form and email it to us, or take a picture of it and email it to us at .

If you are an educator, case manager, advocate, mental health professional, or medical provider, please fill out a Referral form and obtain a Release of Information (ROI)** form.   Please email both the Referral and ROI to us at or fax  414-488-0057.

 **ROIs require signatures. If you or your client do not have access to a scanner or a fax machine, we will accept pictures of the ROI sent via email. The client may provide the signed form at the first appointment.

Referral Form Link

Release of Information Form Link

(clicking on the link(s) will download a Microsoft Word document)

After a referral is received, it is processed and each family is assigned a Family Navigator. A Family Navigator will make contact with the family to gather more information, assess needs, and complete a developmental screening. The child and family will then move on to assessment or therapy with our Licensed Clinical Director and clinician team. After assessments or therapies are complete, families will have a final meeting with their Family Navigator, Clinical Director, and other clinicians involved in the child’s assessment or therapy process (with the family’s permission) to discuss the findings of the evaluation or therapy and the next recommendations. The Family Navigator will then work with the family to set up the next steps/recommendations, whether those services occur inside or outside of our clinic.


Our Team:

Community Advisory Board

The Community Advisory Board (CAB) is made up of members of the community we aim to serve and have their own experiences in navigating children’s developmental and mental health. They direct important clinic decisions and help us connect families to additional resources, and their lived experience with children's mental health provides us with an important perspective.

  • Kenmikiiya Terry
  • Terri DeGaro
  • Janice Harrell
  • Shenika Moss
  • LaKeeta Watts
  • Joyce King
  • Clairice Robinson
  • Monique Plears
  • Darnell Bowes
  • Rasheda Ramsey
  • Nakia O'Connor

Executive Co-Directors

Director of Clinical Services

Family Navigators

Clinic Assistants

Practicum Trainees

Practicum Supervisors

  • Dr. Amy Leventhal
  • Dr. Mary Carlson
  • Dr. Norah Johnson
  • Dr. Kristin Haglund


The Clinic partners with multiple individuals, community agencies, and organizations, in order to better serve Milwaukee’s families. 

Organization partners include: Marquette University; Mental Health America of WI; Milwaukee Coalition for Children's Mental Health; Next Door Foundation; True Love Baptist Church and Outreach Center and the General Baptist State Convention of WI; MIRACLE Network; MATC; United Way/Milwaukee Succeeds; UWM Institute for Child and Family Well-Being; Alverno College; Medical College of WI; Children’s Hospital of WI; NextDoor Pediatrics; Midtown Pediatrics; and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. 

Individual partners include: Dr. Dessie Levy, MCW and True Love Baptist Church and Outreach Ministries; Rev. Walter Lanier, MATC, MIRACLE Network, and Progressive Baptist Church; Dr. Tracey Sparrow, Next Door Foundation; Martina Gollin-Graves, CEO at Mental Health America of WI; Tim Coughlin, United Way/ Milwaukee Succeeds; Dr. Ernestine Willis, MCW; Wendy Krueger, MS, CCC-SLP, Marquette University Speech Pathology; Myah Herro, MS; Dr. Jeff Molter, Alverno College School Psychology; Dr. Iqbal Ahamed, Peter Dobbs, Devansh Saxena, Kazi Zawad Arefin, and Kazishafiul Alam, Marquette University Computer Science; Dr. Alexandre Martins, Marquette University Nursing/Theology; Dr. Abir Bekhet, Marquette University Nursing;  Dr. Lynne Knobloch Fedders, Marquette University Counseling Psychology; Dr. Stephen Saunders, Marquette University Clinical Psychology; Dr. Terry Young, Marquette University Counseling Psychology; Linda Menck, Marquette University Communications; Dr. Dimitri Topitzes, UWM Institute for Child and Family Well-Being; Kate Bennett, MSW, Children’s Hospital of WI/Institute for Child and Family Well-Being.


We are able to do this work thanks to our generous funders, which include:

  • Marquette University President’s Challenge Award
  • Johnson Controls Foundation
  • Milwaukee Funders Collaborative at Milwaukee Succeeds
  • Medical College of Wisconsin Re-Direct Program
  • Stackner Foundation

If you are interested in providing support for the Clinic’s work, please contact us at  Thank you!

Contact Us


2545 N. 29th Street, 2nd floor
Milwaukee, WI 53210
Phone: (414) 209-3631
Fax: (414) 488-0057