Carbon County is one step closer to opening the first out-patient therapy center for students and families.

The first site will be located at the Penn-Kidder Elementary School and would be available to any child in Panther Valley, Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Palmerton or Weatherly school districts.

At the Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative board meeting Wednesday, Kellie Price of the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21, gave an update on the project to help children get the help they need.

She noted that the clinic is expected to be up and running in April, adding that complicated factors, such as writing the service description for telepsychiatry has caused delays in the start date.

Price added that another challenge the CLIU was facing was getting psychiatrists from the Lehigh Valley to travel to the Penn-Kidder campus. That is why telepsychiatry was added.

Through a telepsychiatrist session, the psychiatrist would log onto a secure network at his office and would video conference with the child and family at the Penn-Kidder campus.

Price said all final details are still being worked out on that endeavor.

Jeanne Miller, co-chairperson of the collaborative, then pointed out that this clinic will be utilized for students that schools have concerns about and who are having problems.

Price agreed, adding that the clinic is not a school program, so even though schools refer students for the services, all records are kept confidential and separate from school records.

The clinic will also help families who do not have insurance for their child obtain some type of coverage, whether it be CHIP or medical assistance, to cover the sessions.

The collaborative has been working at making this project a reality for years.

The group's hopes have been to bring services to the children as a way for them to get the help they need at an early age.

In other matters, Miller announced that Lehigh Carbon Community College recently learned they will receive a $630,000 grant to be used to fund the Carbon County Career Academy, a 36-week afterschool program at Carbon Career & Technical Institute that promotes the careers of the future and helps children learn while doing hands-on projects.

"The students will learn engineering, prefabrication, fueling cells, electrical," Miller said. "These are the jobs of the future. Eighty percent of the jobs will need STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and we're going to incorporate art in there as well for well-rounded students. The bottom line is this will give students a competitive edge for future jobs."

Miller noted that the program will be open to sixth through eighth grade students in all five school districts.

More information on the program will be made available on March 1, at a press conference, officially announcing the grant.