To help serve youth and families and other clientele, and to better connect existing services, the Mid-Columbia Center for Living has received two grants for use in the next three to six years.

The grants are from the Department of Health and Human services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The first grant is for $6.6 million over six years to integrate and improve services to youth who have severe emotional disorders and their families.

Community partners including the schools, public health, juvenile services, early childhood services, child and family commissions, La Clinica del Carino and several other members of the community provided guidance in the planning and pledged matching funds for the grant.

Governor Ted Kulongoski, State Senators Rick Metsger and Ted Ferrioli and State Representatives John Mabrey and Patti Smith all wrote supporting letters. The service area encompasses Hood River, Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties and will serve an estimated 175 families each year.

Individualized Care Teams will provide wrap-around services to the children and families using a Family Decision Support model which builds on the strengths of children and families and their natural support system. This model emphasizes the family role as decision-maker and primary care provider.

Expanded mental health services include outreach, early identification and intervention, school and home based services, crisis respite, intensive day treatment and services to children with co-occurring disorders (mental health/addictions.)

Transition services include vocational, housing and independent living. Family coordinators will provide care management services.

A national evaluation study and local research will be conducted to measure the effectiveness of the services. The grant will provide new employment opportunities for approximately 15 people. Recruitment is scheduled to begin this month. Sharon Guidera, executive director of MCCFL, is the principal investigator and Ramona Ropek is the project director.

The Mid-Columbia Child and Family Partnership is a consortium of family, youth, community leaders and agencies that will design and provide guidance for the project.

The second grant, the Strengthening Treatment Access and Retention (STAR) program, provides $200,000 each year for three years.

The grant will utilize evidence-based practices to redesign the initial contact, screening and treatment procedures to enhance retention of people seeking treatment at MCCFL. No-show and cancellation rates are the highest at the earliest phases of contact with the agency.

People seeking behavioral health services often are hesitant due to the lingering stigma of seeking mental health and/or addictions treatment or may feel their problems cannot be helped. Their initial experiences with the agency are crucial in determining retention.

The grant will support an extensive training and retooling of the agency’s procedures and will also include a national and local evaluation to ensure that the design is effective. Guidera is principal investigator and David Mason is the project director.

Any questions regarding the grants may be directed to Ramona Ropek at 386-2620 in Hood River or David Mason 541-296-5452 in The Dalles.

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