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County starts new mental health program for youth

The Madera County Youth Behavioral Health Collaborative, in partnership with the Madera County Superintendent of Schools, local school superintendents, Camarena Health Centers, and Madera County Department of Behavioral Health, will provide increased access to mental health and behavioral health services in the school, home, and community to students throughout Madera County, who are identified as in need of mental health support and intervention.

The program will address two county-wide needs: Navigation and case management services for students and families, and additional capacity to assist with new interventions before calling school resource officers or law enforcement to conduct an assessment for a 5150 hold.

Grant funds will be used to contract with Camarena Health, the county’s largest community health care provider, to hire three behavioral health community navigators, two licensed clinical social workers, and a program coordinator. Each BHCN will be assigned to one of three regions within the county. They will ensure the students and their families are able to access the available resources and treatment options, coordinate care, and serve as a liaison to the school staff to ensure that students have the school-based support services they need to successfully return to and remain in class. The LCSWs will be deployed throughout the county to provide responsive additional capacity during an initial student crisis. Whenever possible, they will use interactive video and audio technology to provide support to school staff to de-escalate stressful situations and to develop preventative measures before a 5150 referral is made.

Tele-mental health services will be a key service delivery strategy for this program, both to cover the geographic range of the mostly rural county efficiently and effectively and to address potential social-distancing requirements brought about by COVID-19.

The goals of the partnership are to:

• Increase access to behavioral health services in locations that are easily accessible to students and their families

• Emphasize preventive and early intervention services that maximize the healthy development of children and minimize the long-term need for public resources

• Provide case management services to children and families with multiple needs

• Enhance crisis services that are responsive to the needs of children and youth

• Facilitate linkages and access to a continuum of ongoing and sustained services for students with identified social-emotional, behavioral, and academic needs

• Identify gaps in services to targeted populations

The Madera County Superintendent of Schools will be the lead agency for the project.

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