NEWS From Sen. Leahy And Gov. Scott: VT Nets 5-Yr, $9.9M Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Grant

The Vermont Department of Mental Health (VDMH) has been awarded a $9.9 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant, which will be disbursed over a five-year period, will fund the Vermont Family Centered Healthcare Home Project (VFCHP) in its facilitation of a comprehensive approach to health – including mental, emotional and physical health – for children and their families.

VFCHP will provide services that are family-driven with care coordination that incorporates evidence-based mental health services, and will support coordination and service delivery improvements between Vermont’s Community Mental Health Centers and the Federally Qualified Health Center in two regions of the state.

The grant funding will be used to implement the project for children and families in Windham and Windsor Counties at Health Care and Rehabilitative Services (HCRS) and Springfield Medical Care Systems (SMCS), and in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties at Northwest Counseling and Support Services and Northern Tier Center for Health (NOTCH). The Department expects to expand grant activities to other regions following the second year, using best practices and lessons learned from these two regions.

“Research tells us comprehensive health care can help children and their families head off a range of problems later in life, avoiding the pain and suffering of unaddressed mental and emotional issues, as well as decreasing health care-related spending of all kinds,” said VDHM Commissioner Melissa Bailey. “The Department is very excited for this opportunity to work with the community mental health providers and the FQHCs to improve care and treatment for children and their families. We look forward to developing a model to improve the outcomes for children.” 

The VFCHP aims to provide a safe, accessible and family-centered health care resource for children, youth and families to receive comprehensive, integrated pediatric and mental health care services and develop a model that invites and engages the family into the process of owning and directing their own health care through increased knowledge. 

The project will provide improved clarity around options, the risks and benefits, and support to the family in making their own decisions about care and treatment. Additionally, it provides a process for providers to have regular care plan meetings to allow for shared decision making, shared care plans to improve health outcomes and address social determinants of health.

In a joint statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said: “It is critical that we do a better job at addressing mental health needs in this country. One of the best ways to do that is through prevention and early intervention that is integrated with physical health care. This federal grant will allow our state to develop a stronger system to help families access critical services and be more active in their own health. We all want Vermont children to have a healthy family and strong future. This grant will help in that effort.”

“This grant is incredibly valuable for Vermont in supporting our children with a comprehensive approach to health care, and I want to thank our congressional delegation and federal partners for supporting this initiative,” said Gov. Scott. “As my Administration focuses on a health care system that prioritizes prevention, this is the type of innovative project that can help us in those efforts, and in our work to better address mental health as a state and as a nation.”

For mental health information, services and resources in Vermont, visit mentalhealth.vermont.gov

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