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DHS News Newsletter October 2005 

OBH awarded third SAMHSA grant for System of Care initiatives

October 2005

The DHS Office of Behavioral Health has been awarded $857,584 for the first year of a 6 year grant, totaling $6,399,475, from the Federal Center for Mental Health Services in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This grant will provide Allegheny County with the opportunity to expand its System of Care to include children from birth to 6 years old. Currently, the DHS System of Care serves children, adolescents and young adults between the ages of 6 and 21 and their families in targeted communities throughout Allegheny County.

DHS has been working since 1998 with many community partners and families and more recently, adolescents and young adults, to dramatically improve the way that school-age children, adolescents and young adults with serious emotional disturbances and their families are able to access mental health treatment, support and other key services.

“For eight years staff in the DHS Office of Behavioral Health has been one of the leaders nationally in developing a System of Care for children and young adults and their families,” said DHS Director Marc Cherna. “With Community Connections for Families and Partnerships for Youth Transitions already serving an integral role in their communities, we look forward to helping the young children and their families with this new grant.”

With financial and technical assistance from SAMHSA from 1998-2004, DHS developed a quality System of Care for school-age children and youth—Community Connections for Families - which continues to provide culturally competent, integrated services that involve families as decision-makers and program leaders and that has gained a firm foothold in the County.

In 2002, DHS received notice of its second CMHS, SAMHSA 4-year award to develop the Partnerships for Youth Transition initiative which is expanding the System of Care to assist youth with serious emotional disturbance to make a successful transition into adulthood.

Allegheny County’s System of Care networks have received national recognition and awards for their innovative work with consumers and families. Allegheny County utilized the success of these networks to apply for another Federal grant to again build on our System of Care for young children with serious emotional disturbance and their families. This new award will allow DHS to strengthen the connection between mental health services for young children and:

  • the early intervention system
  • the child welfare system
  • primary health care for young children
  • child care providers and preschool programs

With this award and with working in conjunction with the existing System of Care initiatives, Allegheny County will construct and be poised to sustain a System of Care for children and youth—from birth to 21 and their families. Per the grant, Allegheny County will begin with a first year of planning with state and community partners to select the target communities; to be followed in years 2 through 5 with assisting these communities with implementing the system of care.

Allegheny County is one of only two counties nationwide to be awarded three grants for the System of Care initiatives.

For more information, please contact the System of Care Program Director Gwen White at 412-350-4944 or OBH Assistant Deputy Director Sue Martone at 412-350-7399.

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