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Grant Provides Opportunity to Enhance Lives for Youth with Behavioral Challenges


For Immediate Release Contact: Ernest Landante, Jr.
July 23, 2015 609-292-0422

TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) has won a $12 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to assist with mental health services for youth with complex behavioral health challenges.  The grant's award period stretches from September 2015 to September 2019.

"The Federal government has provided New Jersey with a transformational opportunity to not only move the Children's System of Care forward, but to make an even greater difference in the lives of youth with complex behavioral health challenges and mentally ill youth," said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake.

During the project's first year, DCF's Children's System of Care (CSOC) will introduce two trauma-informed interventions: Six Core Strategies for Reducing Seclusion and Restraint Use and the Nurtured Heart Approach. Middlesex, Morris, and Sussex will serve as pilot counties.

The pilot project's four measurable goals aim to:

  • reduce the percentage of youth in the system of care who require multiple episodes of out-of-home treatment;
  • reduce the percentage of youth who re-enter treatment after discharge from an initial treatment episode;
  • reduce the average length of stay for youth in out-of-home treatment from 11.5 to 9 months; and
  • analyze and understand the impact of each type of system investment in order to make future resource allocation decisions.

CSOC provides treatment to youth with complex behavioral health challenges and seriously mentally ill youth under 21.  Leadership and staff from CSOC programs will receive training and coaching from Rutgers University Behavioral Healthcare to implement and use these interventions.

Additionally, CSOC's leadership and staff as well as parents and caregivers of these youth will receive training to use the Nurtured Heart Approach to prevent repeated out-of-home treatment episodes after initial treatment.  If the interventions prove successful, CSOC plans to introduce them statewide to about 146 out-of-home treatment programs along with other system partners in New Jersey's 21 counties during the four-year grant period.

The impact of the training will be widespread because it will transform the practice of about 4,500 out-of-home treatment staff, 700 care management staff, and at least 9,000 parents and caregivers.

DCF plans to engage Rutgers University's Center for State Health Policy to conduct a return on investment study to help DCF make future resource allocation decisions.  This portion of the study will affect all children within CSOC.

DCF is dedicated to ensuring a better today and an even greater tomorrow for every individual the department serves. In partnership with New Jersey's communities, DCF ensures the safety, well-being, and success of New Jersey's children and families.  DCF funds and directly provides services and support to over 100,000 women, children, and families each month.


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