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Erie County, partners announce expansion of mental health services in Buffalo Public Schools


Thu, Oct 29th 2015 02:25 pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz speaks of an expansion to provide more access to mental health services for Buffalo students.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz speaks of an expansion to provide more access to mental health services for Buffalo students.

15 new mental health clinics to be added during school year; 42 of 55 schools will now have clinics

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined Thursday by Say Yes Buffalo Executive Director David Rust, Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo CEO Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, Child and Adolescent Treatment Services President Bonnie Glazer and staff members from Buffalo's Waterfront Elementary School No. 95 to announce an expansion in the partnership between Erie County, Say Yes Buffalo and the Buffalo Public Schools to provide more access to mental health services for Buffalo students. Fifteen new clinics will be opening across the Buffalo school system this fall, bringing the total number of schools that now provide students access to mental health services to 42.

"Expansion of these vital mental health services means that more of our most vulnerable population, our youth, will have access to the help they need when they need it. Providing on-site access for such services is a good way to coordinate care for youth and families who may be facing multiple challenges that can negatively impact educational outcomes, and we are doing that in the Buffalo schools," Poloncarz said. "Until now, students dealing with anxiety, depression, anger or family conflicts had very few places to turn for help, but together we are turning that tide and building school communities that are healthier and happier. No one agency can do it alone, and I would like to thank Say Yes Buffalo, the Buffalo Public Schools and our other partners for their commitment to effecting positive change in the schools."

"This partnership should be celebrated and replicated," Rust said. "It is a great example of what is possible when public and private entities come together to find the best way to address our young people's social-emotional and health needs so that they can focus on their academics."

During the 2014-15 school year, 13 new mental health clinics were opened within Buffalo school buildings, including one at the Waterfront School, improving access to these critical services for hundreds of students. When added to the 14 clinics that already existed within schools primarily as a part of a Kaleida or Catholic Health Clinic, the new clinics mean there will now be mental health services available in 42 of 55 Buffalo Public School buildings.

Earlier this year, Poloncarz emphasized the importance of these clinics in his "Initiatives for a Stronger Community," and the program may continue to expand in the future as needs are identified.

When the Say Yes Buffalo partnership began in 2012, mental health clinics operated by Kaleida Health, Catholic Health, Gateway Longview and Mid-Erie were located in 14 Buffalo public schools, and community-based clinics were spread out around the city and suburbs.

Working through the departments of mental health, health and social services, Erie County made it possible to locate more clinics and their services in school buildings where students and parents already spend time and feel safe. Last year, the 13 new clinics opened by this successful partnership provided services to more than 200 students. The 15 new clinics opening this year will be open for services depending on the need at each individual school.

Along with Erie County, Say Yes Buffalo and the Buffalo Public Schools, partners in the schools' mental health clinic initiative include Baker Victory Services, Catholic Charities, Catholic Health, Child & Adolescent Treatment Services, Child & Family Services, Gateway Longview, Jewish Family Services, Kaleida Health, Lakeshore Behavioral Health, Mid-Erie and the state OMH Children's Psychiatric Center.

Start-up funding to help agencies transition their mental health services from community locations into school buildings is being provided by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

For more information on Say Yes Buffalo, visit http://sayyesbuffalo.org/. On the Erie County Department of Mental Health, visit http://www2.erie.gov/mentalhealth/. On the Erie County Department of Health, visit http://www2.erie.gov/health/. On the Erie County Department of Social Services, visit http://www2.erie.gov/socialservices/.

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