SFSC Grantees Gather to Further Initiative’s Momentum

In July 2013, DODD and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services (OhioMHAS) announced awards of nearly $3 million out of a $5 million grant to seven community partnerships to implement the Strong Families, Safe Communities (SFSC) project, and to provide care coordination and crisis intervention services for youth at risk of harming themselves or others due to a mental illness or developmental disability. SFSC dollars also will train mental health and developmental disabilities professionals in crisis intervention.

When DODD Director John Martin recently addressed a group of Findlay-area partners involved in Strong Families, Safe Communities efforts, he noted,

We are looking forward to convening a group of the participants in SFSC grants begun last year to see what we can learn from them toward recommending best practices. Many of these families have reported a great deal of success with these targeted efforts.”

These first-year grantees met on September 29 and 30 to share information and ideas, and learn what approaches have had the most positive outcomes, as well as what new approaches and opportunities were discovered along the way.  Each of the grantees described their local collaborative efforts to expand and improve options for families with children in crisis who present a risk to themselves, their families, or others due to mental illness and/or a developmental disability.

Information from presentations on the first day was distilled on day two, into common themes or unique approaches that could become models for future SFSC grantees and agency collaborations. DODD Director John Martin, and OhioMHAS Director Tracy Plouck attended the meetings and noted, “We are here to listen to you, and to learn from you.  We want to know what you think is worth doing elsewhere, and how the families feel about the services – how did it help their child?”

Teresa Kobelt, DODD Assistant Deputy Director attended the meetings and observed, “These projects are so impressive.  For example, in the Licking/Knox collaboration their goal was to serve just over 100 people — and they wound up serving more than 200 — in large part because their mental health board said, ‘We’re going to do whatever it takes.’ These are some pretty impressive outcomes.”

Draft recommendations were presented on day two for consideration and review — with an emphasis on what models and approaches might be ready to take statewide.  Comments on day one included,

The extensive training of staff across agencies helped our Rapid Response Team (RRT) to have a common language during crises.  This is very important!  The multi-disciplinary teams were able to talk to each other and quickly get to the heart of a situation – helping to stabilize an individual and have a plan for the family.”  -Micki Lamb, Athens/Hocking/Jackson/Vinton County SFSC grant

We learned that family-based, holistic interventions worked best for us.  Our local partnering agencies have changed the way we work together – there’s less competition, and a more collaborative and open approach.  Family outcomes have been positive.  One young man stated, ‘I have never been happier in my life,’ when asked about his progress over the past year.”   – Darlene Pempek, Belmont/ Harrison/Monroe County SFSC grant

SFSC information is updated regularly at Strong Families, Safe Communities. Contacts for more information are:  DODD — Kerry Francis, kerry.francis@dodd.ohio.gov; OhioMHAS — Eric Wandersleben, eric.wandersleben@mha.ohio.gov

Darlene Pempek, Belmont County (left), describes the environment of open collaboration that has developed among the SFSC partners during the past year.

Darlene Pempek, Belmont County (left), describes the environment of open collaboration that has developed among the SFSC partners during the past year.