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NYS Office of Mental Health issues RFP to continue work of Project Teach

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Fri, Dec 4th 2020 12:55 pm

Program helps expand access to behavioral health services for dhildren, adolescents & families

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) has issued a Request for Proposals to continue and enhance the work of Project TEACH (Training and Education for the Advancement of Children’s Health), which creates collaborations between primary care providers, such as pediatricians, and behavioral health care providers. This allows primary care providers to better address their patients’ mild to moderate mental health concerns and provide mental health services to children, adolescents and their families.

Access to consultation and collaboration with child and adolescent psychiatrists is a strategy that is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the National Institute for Health Care Management.

In addition, the RFP will expand the maternal mental health initiative, which provides maternal health providers with access to consultation, training and assistance with referral and linkage around maternal mental health issues.

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Through Project TEACH, we are increasing access to behavioral health services for children and their families, which is especially important now, as we deal with the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on so many families across the state. Project TEACH has also helped pregnant women and new mothers overcome maternal depression, which when identified and treated early, leads to better health outcomes for mothers and children.”

Project TEACH is comprised of three interrelated services for primary care providers: it increases access to psychiatric consultations from child and adolescent mental health care specialists, links primary care physicians and their patients with appropriate community-based services, and provides training for primary care providers.

The RFP provides for an award of up to $17 million for a five-year contract beginning July 1, 2021, to coordinate Project TEACH services, which include development of specialty consultation services, development and delivery of training programs that would be available throughout the state, maintenance of the statewide Project TEACH website, and marketing and promotion of the program.

Founded in 2010, the mission of Project TEACH is to strengthen and support the ability of primary care providers to deliver care to children and families who experience mild-to-moderate mental health concerns. Project TEACH educates and supports primary care providers to integrate care for mild-to moderate behavioral health concerns into primary care for children and adolescents, ages 0 to 21.

A press release said, “By increasing access to behavioral health care for children, Project TEACH has been especially valuable in areas that have historically been underserved. Access to care for children is essential to achieving good health care outcomes, and pediatric primary care providers have an essential role in identifying and treating behavioral health problems in children.

“In a National Examination of Child Psychiatric Telephone Consultation Programs' Impact on Children's Mental Health Care Utilization, children from states with statewide child psychiatry telephone access programs were significantly more likely to receive mental health services than children residing in states without such programs. Project TEACH is helping to mitigate the shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists and promote more equitable access utilizing the network of primary care providers.”

Letters of intent to bid on the RFP are due by Dec. 14, while questions from bidders on the RFP are due by Dec. 28. Proposals are due by Feb. 1, 2021. OMH anticipates announcing the award by February 5. More information can be found on the OMH website at https://omh.ny.gov/omhweb/rfp/2020/teach/project-teach-rfp.pdf.

Consumer alert: NYS Division of Consumer Protection alerts consumers to text messaging scammers impersonating state & federal agencies

Text messaging scams claim relief money is waiting

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) is alerting New Yorkers to new text messaging scams seeking payments and sensitive personal information by offering fake grants, tax refunds, pandemic relief, and unemployment insurance payments.

“Throughout this public health crisis, scammers have been hard at work preying on unsuspecting New Yorkers,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the DCP. “This latest batch of scams prey on New Yorkers seeking pandemic relief by spoofing official government agencies. I urge all New Yorkers to be extra diligent and follow simple steps to keep your money and personal information safe.”

New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “It is deplorable that these scammers are misrepresenting themselves during a pandemic to prey upon New Yorkers who need assistance in a time of crisis. New Yorkers must be more vigilant than ever in protecting their personal information and should never share their Social Security number or other personal identifiers over social media channels or via text messaging. Block and report these fraudulent accounts as soon as possible.”

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “While everyone is doing their best to stay informed throughout the pandemic response, unfortunately there are those who will seek to prey upon people during their most vulnerable time. As always, we must make it a habit to consider and verify the source of unsolicited promotions and monetary offers and keep personal information, including health information, protected.”

Scammers preying on consumers’ interest in pandemic relief programs are impersonating state and federal government agencies by enticing consumers to click on website links containing official-sounding text such as “pandemic stimulus relief,” “Treasury Department,” and “government payment.” Consumers may also receive a phone call claiming they are a victim of identity theft and then receive the alarming text message, further confirming the “problem.”

After clicking the links from the text messages, consumers arrive at official looking websites designed to impersonate federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration and New York state agencies, including the Department of Labor regarding unemployment payments, or the Department of Health regarding contact tracing. These sites solicit bank information and other sensitive personal details such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and bank account logins/passwords to enable the consumers to “accept payment.”

Sample of Actual Text Messages

•Treasury Fund Payment: “You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 Treasury Fund. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account.”

•COVID Relief Grant: "The IRS has deemed you eligible for the current COVID relief grant sponsored by the Treasury Clearinghouse, you stand a chance of getting a minimum of $100000 for being a regular tax payer, agent Davies Gran has been assigned. Click the link below"

•Unemployment Claim: “You have pending claim of $1,200 from covid-19 TREAS 310 tax ref. Further action is required to disburse funds. Click here to confirm payment method:"

•Stimulus Help: "From IRS-GO: You are eligible - Register for COVID-19 Stimulus Help MSG#: 123455668"

Collaborating with New York State’s Division of Consumer Protection and several federal government agencies, telecommunications carriers have blocked thousands of these fake text messages using sophisticated algorithms to look for keywords, malicious activity and other trends. As the pandemic continues and the holidays approach, consumers should be mindful of increasing scam activity.

To prevent falling victim to these types of scams, DCP said take note of the following tips:

√ Do not click links in suspect texts or emails. These lead to convincing impersonation websites attempting to collect your sensitive personally identifiable information.

√ Call the government agency directly to confirm communications, if concerned.

√ Hang up the phone immediately if someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from any government agency and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation.

Additional information related to New York state agencies:

√ Text messages from the New York State Department of Labor will only come from the number 468-311 OR via DocuSign. A DOL representative will never reach out directly through a text message. If someone claims to be a DOL representative over text, block and alert the DOL. Never give an SSN over social media – DOL will not ask for this information on social media. The DOL urges anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud to report it immediately at ny.gov/uifraud.

√ NYS Department of Health may contact someone as “NYS Contact Tracing” (518-387-9993). Answer the phone. This, DCP said, “will keep your loved ones and community safe.” For more information on contact tracing, visit https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/new-york-state-contact-tracing.

Additional information related to federal agencies:

√ Federal agencies will typically first initiate contact with constituents via mail. Federal agencies do not request personal or financial information through text message or email and will not ask for credit card numbers over a phone call they initiate.

Contact the agency directly:

√ Internal Revenue Service (IRS):1-800-829-1040

√ Social Security Administration (SSA): 1-800-772-1213

√ If one encounters a marketplace problem or is concerned about a scam, they are encouraged to call or file a complaint with the DCP. 

The DCP serves to educate, assist and empower the state’s consumers. The consumer helpline, 800-697-1220, is available to assist consumers 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Consumer complaints can be filed anytime online at the DCP website, www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. To view consumer alerts, consumers can visit https://www.dos.ny.gov/about/newsroom.html. The DCP can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.

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