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Carroll County commissioners accept $80,000 in grant funds for mental health resources for youths

Carroll County Times - 3/25/2022

Mar. 25—As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for mental health services across the country, Carroll County officials are working to provide youth and their families with the resources they need.

On Thursday, commissioners approved a request from the Department of Citizen Services to accept an $80,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services to help "link youth with mental health needs and their families to community services, keep youth in their homes, and divert them from adjudication within the juvenile justice system," according to Gabby Zelaya, local management board manager.

The state is implementing a behavioral health diversion initiative throughout Maryland. The Carroll County Youth Service Bureau, in partnership with the state, provides behavioral health case management services for youth and their families at risk of or currently involved with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.

CCYSB staff assesses needs and facilitates linkages to community services, as identified during the referral and enrollment process. Participants also have access to a continuum of behavioral health services.

"The FY23 funding will continue operation of the program by covering staffing costs," Zelaya said. "Historically, this program is in high demand and has positive outcomes associated with participants' engagement in program goals and with reducing recidivism."

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She said from fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2021 the program received an average of 38 referrals each year; 23 referrals have been received in the first half of fiscal 2022.

"An average of 92% of the youth served in this program from (fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2021) achieved goals outlined in their action plans, which included behavioral health and additional community support services," Zelaya said, adding that 93% of youth served in the first half of fiscal 2022 have achieved goals within their plans.

Another key measure of this program's success is related to recidivism, she said. From fiscal 2019 to fiscal 2021, an average of 89.8% of participating youths did not incur new charges after one year of completing the program.

Rates reported for the first half of fiscal 2022 are similar in that 84% of those youths were one year out and did not incur new charges.

"This is extremely important," Commissioner Dennis Frazier, a Republican representing District 3, said. "The mental health aspect is so often overlooked. ... It's something we have to keep up with."

Commissioner Eric Bouchat, a District 4 Republican, commended citizen services staff for their efforts.

"I think the return on investment we get for the dollars we spend is tremendous because if not, the sheriff's department would be dealing with these individuals evolving into something worse as adults," he said.


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