Casey DeSantis: HHS Sending Almost $5 Million to DCF for Crisis Counseling Program

On Monday, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis showcased a recent federal grant to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to set up a Crisis Counseling Program as residents of the Sunshine State continue to cope with the coronavirus pandemic

The grant, which came to almost $5 million, comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The funds “will provide crisis counseling services through Florida’s network of 2-1-1 crisis helplines, assisting individuals in need of mental or behavioral health counseling and referrals.”

Governor DeSantis and I are grateful for the opportunity to increase access to critical behavioral health services,” said DeSantis on Monday. “Through this program, one-on-one counseling will be readily available to those in crisis, ensuring they have the resources and support they need to address their own specific needs, recover fully, and begin to move forward with purpose.”

“Under the Federal Crisis Counseling Program Service Grant, DCF was awarded $4,994,530 to be utilized over the next nine months. This funding will expand the existing capacity of crisis counselors within twelve 2-1-1 providers, while promoting the availability of behavioral health services among vulnerable populations, including children and their caregivers, first responders and healthcare workers, and those grieving a loss. 2-1-1 providers will routinely connect individuals to resources, while conducting telephone counseling services and screening callers for indications of more long-term behavioral health needs,” the governor’s office noted.

“With recent increases in calls to 2-1-1 statewide, the need for behavioral health services is overwhelmingly apparent,” said DCF Sec. Chad Poppell. “Thanks to support from Governor DeSantis, First Lady DeSantis, and our federal partners, Florida’s children and families will have access to counseling and referral services they need to cope during this period of transition and recovery.”

The Florida Association of Managing Entities (FAME) welcomed the new funds.

“We must prioritize behavioral health services, and I applaud Governor DeSantis for his leadership in obtaining and directing much-needed resources to crisis counselors on the front lines of assisting Floridians who need help,” said Natalie Kelly, the CEO of FAME, on Monday. “That first call to 2-1-1 can be the most important call a person makes.”

“Florida’s seven local Managing Entities work with a network of over 300 behavioral health care providers who deliver services to over 300,000 of Florida’s most vulnerable residents, including children, expectant mothers, veterans, and the chronically homeless,” FAME noted. “Providers meet patients’ diverse needs with ‘wraparound services’ that not only address mental health issues and substance abuse but also assist with housing, transportation, and employment. Community boards administer, manage, and ensure accountability of state and federal funds for behavioral health services, keeping oversight and accountability closest to the people they serve.”


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