$3.8 million grant to aid the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services in the Wyoming Valley

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A local behavioral health organization with decades of service throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania is expanding its mission. It’s in the process of trying to launch something new with the help of federal funding.

That something new is a multi-million dollar first-time grant for an organization that already tends to mental and emotional problems and substance use disorders.

The head of the Children’s Service Center points out what will be a 13,000 square foot addition to the organization’s campus building space that will help launch what would be the region’s first Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic.

“We kind of have pieces of it now but this really just ties it all together and it adds additional staff for us so we’ll have staff that will be doing care coordination,” said Mike Hopkins, President and CEO of Children’s Serice Center.

The mental health care system which serves 10,000 children and adults all over northeastern and central Pennsylvania has just been awarded a $3.8M first-time grant award through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

While separate funding is covering construction, the grant will help develop a program that streamlines services to more efficiently address emotional and mental problems and substance use disorders among people which increased during the pandemic.

“Their needs are even greater because of the extra stress that’s put on everybody during something like a COVID-19 pandemic. And what a time for this to come through,” stated Representative Matt Cartwright.

Becoming a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic rests with the state which would be responsible for future funding of this federally supported model. Hopkins says the timing is right.

“We decided to build all the services that we needed over the last five years so for example our substance use disorder program is now serving over 400 clients where we didn’t have hardly any before our adult business is up over 4,500 clients that we see,” said Hopkins.

As for construction on the new building, that should begin next month, it’s expected to be completed early next year with the clinic opening by summer

Children’s service center is expected to officially apply for the certification in two years.

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