Behavioral health provider expands trauma and bereavement services with new $2.9 million federal grant

Arbor Circle will receive $2.9 million in federal grants over five years that could take the organizations services to a new level in working with children and families.

As the Grand Rapids-based mental health care provider works with colleagues across the country who also received grants to work with children, teens and their families experiencing pain or trauma, leaders can share best practices and learn from others to improve their organizations.

Susan Sheppard, Arbor Cirlce

It’s a real game changer, said Susan Sheppard, vice president and chief operating officer of Arbor Circle. This gives us a chance to find out what works and have some good data behind the project and the program so we can replicate it.

The $592,427 Arbor Circle received for the Expanding Access to Childhood Healing (EACH) project was among $17.5 million from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded in the current fiscal year to 30 organizations across the country. Funding is targeted improve treatment and services for children, adolescents and families who have experienced a traumatic event.

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With the grant from the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative, Arbor Circle wants to establish a formal referral network to increase the availability of screening/referrals throughout the service area and establish new partnerships to provide coordinated services to children in need by trauma, according to the Administration of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

cCurrently, across the state of Michigan, access to behavioral health is limited/low, while traumatic experiences continue to rise and rise. Access to quality care is especially difficult for families on Medicaid and/or living in low-resource communities, according to grant agencies. The Arbor Circles EACH project will address this gap by providing robust, targeted services and services, increasing child/youth trauma screening and evidence-based interventions to any child/youth who detect positive trauma.

The grant came as a trauma between Children and youth have only stepped up since the pandemic, Sheppard said.

Arbor Circle received the funding in October and has hired and trained four master’s level therapists who are assigned to the program to work with clients who are dealing with the death of a loved one or who have gone through trauma such as experiencing or witness physical or emotional violence. abuse, or serious injury or illness.

With a talent shortage in the health professions, Arbor Circle began offering the expanded services in January, initially on a smaller scale, and brought on the fourth therapist in February, Sheppard said.

Now fully staffed, the Arbor Circle is just beginning to market and promote the program, she said.

Absent the federal funding, it would have taken Arbor Circle years longer to train the staff needed to deliver the expanded programming, Sheppard said.

We said we were able to rebuild and redesign around effective, high-quality strategies that would have taken us much longer to self-fund ourselves, he said. What we could achieve with this funding five years from now would have brought us twice as much on our own, and it’s so necessary right now.

Through federal grant funding, Arbor Circle wants to increase access to group services for pain and trauma therapies for children, adolescents and their families in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties.

The nonprofit aims to serve 60 children in the first year and 120 annually each year thereafter, or 540 in total, through the EACH program.

The program will include play therapy for children offered through a partnership with THE PLAYGROUNDgr that helps with their recovery, Sheppard said. Arbor Circle also partnered with AYA Youth Collective and The Urban League of West Michigan on the grant-funded EACH program.

Through our partnership with Arbor Circle, THE PLAYGROUNDgr has been able to create access to one-on-one, trauma-informed play therapy groups for many new youth in our community. At THE PLAYGROUNDgr, we believe that play heals and we are thrilled to be building these mental health bridges with Arbor Circle, said Jacqueline Scherer, Founder and Executive Director of THE PLAYGROUNDgr.

Arbor Circle serves about 12,000 individuals and families annually with offices in Kent, Ottawa, Allegan, Muskegon and Newaygo counties, and has about 300 employees. The organization provides outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment for individuals, families and groups.

Arbor Circle also has specialized services, such as a community-based recovery program that works with people with addictions where the traditional outpatient model hasn’t worked for them, Sheppard said. Therapists, case managers, recovery coaches and other staff at Arbor Circle work with clients at home, at work or in other locations.

The organization also runs a short-term homeless shelter for teenagers aged 10-17.

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