Grant to expand WTCSB services in schools

Published 6:07 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

The School Intervention Program (SCIP) at Western Tidewater Community Services Board has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the state Department of Behavioral Health.

The grant is specifically for the implementation of school-based services that will increase the reach of SCIP within Suffolk Public Schools, officials said in a news release.

The author of the grant is Chiquita Merrill, SCIP program supervisor and a licensed mental health professional and clinical supervisor. The grant’s proposal required specific data from all 20 schools regarding population and income demographics, data highlighting Suffolk’s need for mental health resources, and data supporting the potential outcomes of increased school-based services.


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Merrill compiled all of the necessary documentation to support those statistics. She was able to demonstrate that the current framework does provide a tremendous benefit to youth in Suffolk and also show that there are many others who can be helped with the grant funds.

Suffolk School Board member Karen Jenkins, who represents the Cypress Borough and is a mental health professional, “has always been an advocate for mental health services for everyone in need, especially the children,” according to the news release, and helped coordinate support with Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III and state Delegate Clinton Jenkins, D-Suffolk, in obtaining the grant.

Gordon and Jenkins wrote a letter of support that was submitted with the grant and was pivotal to WTCSB’s being considered for selection.

SCIP already partners with SPS in providing case management and therapy within the school setting. Suffolk schools have at least one case manager who is housed within each school and works with teachers, school guidance counselors and administrators, as well as the students themselves much more frequently than traditional case management services.

Typically, case management is funded only by Medicaid. SCIP also provides outpatient therapy in certain schools. SCIP will utilize the new grant to increase the offer of school-based outpatient therapy to all 20 schools in Suffolk.

SCIP will implement group-based mental health interventions that specifically target issues such as mental health symptoms, previous trauma and ongoing behavior issues. Students who are enrolled in the group treatment will also receive case management services, allowing students who do not have Medicaid to receive case management services.

“This is huge for the partnership between SPS and WTCSB and will greatly benefit the youth of Suffolk,” officials said in the news release.