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Task force targeting behavioral health issues in students

Published June 09. 2011 05:00PM

Carbon County organizations are continuing to work toward helping students with behavioral health issues get the help they need.

During the meeting of the Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative Board, held Wednesday morning, members of the collaborative provided updates on the progress of getting out-patient therapy in the five Carbon school districts and Carbon Career & Technical Institute.

Earlier this year, the board created a task force to find solutions and combat behavioral health issues and drug and alcohol issues in students.

Jeanne Miller, co-chairperson of the collaborative, explained that the task force spoke with the schools in regards to providing space in the schools for out-patient therapy for students. All schools said they were interested.

She noted the next step will be to find a provider for the services and to speak with Community Behavior Health about the need for these services in the schools.

In other related matters, the collaborative is in the process of receiving the results of the drug and alcohol survey that has been issued to all sixth through 11th graders in the county. Over the last few years, the survey, which polled over 3,000 children, has provided the collaborative with information that showed that children are using drugs and alcohol at a young age.

This information, as well as the comprehensive booklet "State of The Child and Family," which outlines everything that schools and county agencies deal with when it comes to children and families, will be used to apply for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant, a four-year grant that would help the collaborative implement programs such as the SHINE after-school program, in all school districts; help with teacher education on subjects such as poverty, drug and alcohol issues, and resiliency; and more.

In other business, the collaborative learned about Behavioral Health Associates and Educare of PA Inc., based out of Lehighton.

Christopher West, superintendent of schools, provided an overview of what the organization does in the community.

BHA and Educare, which has been in Carbon County for a decade, currently provides educational, mental health, psychiatric and therapeutic services; and will soon provide a sports complex for students to learn and improve their sporting skills.

Barbara Conway, superintendent of the Jim Thorpe schools, commented that the school district has used services from BHA and Educare and are "thrilled" with the organizations.

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