ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health and Addiction Services presented a grant award Wednesday, Aug. 14 to the BHN Alliance (Belmont-Harrison-Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities) and the Belmont-Harrison-Monroe Mental Health and Recovery Board that will enable this partnership to create a coordinated plan of care for at-risk youth who have a developmental disability or mental illness.
John Martin, Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, awarded the $500,000 Strong Families, Safe Communities grant at the offices of Southeast, Inc. in St. Clairsville on Wednesday.  The grant will be disbursed over a two-year period (2014-2015). Six other grants (a total of nearly $3 million) were awarded to community partnerships to provide improved care coordination and crisis intervention for youth with intense service needs due to a mental illness and/or developmental disability. In addition to the grants, the project will also provide statewide training on crisis intervention for mental health and developmental disabilities services professionals. The DODD received 38 proposals.
Martin told those attending Wednesday that Governor Kasich contacted the director of the Ohio Board of Mental Health after a number of high profile cases (school shootings) one of which was in Ohio that involved youth in crisis.
“We began looking at what we could do to prevent these incidents which create incredible pain for the families involved,” Martin said. He said some of the criteria  used to select the proposals included collaboration across agencies and serving those who don’t fit into one category of service, the involvement of multiple counties, and sustainability of the project after the grant is over.
Martin said the 38 proposals ranged from five to 40 pages and were reviewed by a team that included parents from each system involved to score the proposals, narrowing the 38 down to seven. He said Monte Kerr, former BHN Superintendent and current Deputy Director of the Ohio Board of Developmental Disabilities was not permitted to review the BHN proposal.
“You are to be complimented that you were one of the seven,” Martin said. “We were intrigued that you were already working together and already identified a problem and made plans to address it. This gave you a leg up,” he said.
Martin said all seven proposals were different and will be used as models that may be implemented at the state level.
“We want to be a partner to understand how the program is working in your community,” he said. “We are looking forward to seeing  the results and seeing what works.”
The local collaboration, BHN Youth in Crisis project, will use the funding to create a team approach across all agencies to serve children and youth who have intense service needs due to a mental illness or developmental disability. The project includes: development of treatment teams to include a behavior consultant, therapeutic support staff and mobile therapists, crisis and planned respite, family-centered therapy and intensive service coordination, collaborate with DJFS Children Services to develop therapeutic crisis foster care and a therapeutic mentoring program.
In addition to Director Martin, speakers included BHN Alliance Superintendent Stephen Williams, Linda Pickenpaugh, Executive Director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board and Monte Kerr.
“This grant will go a long way to expand our collaboration to provide services to families in need,” Williams said.
We appreciate Governor Kasich making this commitment,” said Pickenpaugh. “We appreciate the opportunity to have applied,” she said, noting that they received the entire amount requested. She said the ultimate goal is to serve those children with intense needs. Pickenpaugh noted that the money will be used for the children’s needs, but also to train people to perpetuate the services after the grant.
“We would not have been able to provide these services with our existing resources,” she said.
“We are really excited and looking forward to implementing these programs,” Williams said. “Children won’t have to leave the county to get help and that is exciting and great.”
The grant will fund intensive care coordination, crisis stabilization and treatment, therapeutic mentoring, and family respite and support for children in Belmont, Harrison, Noble and Monroe counties.
Strong Families, Safe Communities is funded by Governor John Kasich’s initiative to commit money from Ohio’s Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) awards to develop targeted strategies to stabilize youth in crisis, ages 8-24, and develop long-term treatment plans that help children and their families live happy and healthy lives.
The BHN Alliance is the primary provider of support for more than 700 children and adults with developmental disabilities in Belmont, Harrison and Noble counties. The Belmont-Harrison-Monroe Mental Health & Recovery Board is responsible for the delivery of comprehensive mental health and substance abuse services in those counties.