HERKIMER N.Y. - Herkimer County has been selected to receive a nearly $4 million grant from the federal government, all for the health of local children.
Herkimer County Director of Public Health Christina Cain is being credited for spearheading the effort to get the grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which will come in at $989,447 a year for the next four years.
Cain says the grant was awarded to help with the county’s System of Care Expansion and Sustainability Project which provides comprehensive community mental health services for children with serious emotional disturbances.
Cain says the money will be used for a variety of things, including hiring additional Family School Navigators which act as liaisons between the school and the family, "Whose job is to basically liaise between the family and the school to ensure that the students have everything they need to be healthy and to be ready to learn. But not all of the schools in our county are able to afford them so this funding will also go to help supplying those, which will demonstrate the success that some of them have already been seeing in the pilot schools."
The United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area is one area organization that will benefit from the funding. They will be adding Family School Navigators to their Ready for Kindergarten program with funds obtained through the grant.
Congressman Anthony Brindisi says this grant can be used to fill existing gaps in services and improve technology.
“Finding appropriate mental health care can be challenging – the lack of providers, long waiting lists, and appointment availability and costs can make it difficult for parents to get their children the mental health care they need,” said Brindisi. “We need to expand access and help connect more families with mental health resources, especially in rural communities where options are even more limited. This grant award will go a long way in helping Herkimer County get help to the people who need it.”
Cain says the district will also purchase some new child assessment software that will assist the school staff with the early identification of children with, or at risk of developing, SED, or Serious Emotional Disturbances.
"It's basically going to help the schools track where their students are as far as their social and emotional health. So if a kid is doing well in school, grades are maintaining but maybe there's something else still going on at home and they're not presenting normally, they're not having those outbursts, they're not having those differences and behaviors that teachers would notice, the software will help notice and still pick up on if there is still something else going on at home but the teachers might be able to help with referral services for," she said.
Cain adds, "Lastly, the grant money will be used to expand existing services with our local agencies to serve additional children as well as providing intensive services to children who are currently receiving services."
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