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Centerstone receives $2.1 million grant to improve the mental health of children

The Southern Illinoisan - 12/31/2019

Dec. 31--CARBONDALE -- Centerstone announced it has received a $2.1 million, six-year grant from the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation to improve the mental health of children and communities throughout Southern Illinois.

The ILCHF initiative, titled "Children's Mental Health Initiative 2.0," will enable Centerstone to implement a system of care that comprehensively supports child and family mental health, according to a news release from Centerstone. The system of care that Centerstone has created is named "Building Compassionate Communities."

"The vision of BCC (Building Compassionate Communities) is to strengthen child and family resilience through a trauma-informed system of care by addressing community compassion and wellness, creating more prevention services, improving access to mental health care, increasing resiliency, and enhancing the overall mental health service array," Niki Grajewski, clinical manager at Centerstone, said.

In 2018, Centerstone was awarded a 13-month, $200,000 planning grant from ILCHF to develop a plan. Centerstone and its collaborators submitted their unique plan as part of an application for a six-year grant to implement its system of care.

"Supporting all children within our region, regardless of insurance source or diagnosis, remains a focus of BCC," Grajewski said. "Creating mechanisms to support children and families outside being Medicaid -- insured and ensuring parents have support through peer-provided services, support groups and parent education groups will be highlights of the implementation project."

Zach Schumacher, coordinator for the system of care grant, said children in Southern Illinois face trauma, depression and issues with anger, among other mental health challenges. Lately, providers are seeing an increase of anxiety in children.

"A lot of mental health issues circle around having to grow up in poverty. It is a correlating factor in a lot of these issues we are seeing," Schumacher said.


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Centerstone will continue to collaborate with many community partners to execute their plan to address mental health issues facing children in Perry, Jackson, Williamson and Franklin counties. Those partners include: Southern Illinois University System; SIU School of Medicine; Southern Illinois Healthcare; Shawnee Health Services; Jackson County Health Department; Southern Region Early Childhood Program; local school districts including Unity Point, Marion and Christopher; Regional Offices of Education 21 and 30; and parents and youth.

Grajewski said strengthening the community through awareness and educational opportunities strengthens the mental health system overall. They plan to continue to offer education and innovative approaches to strengths-based and trauma-informed care that will benefit the overall system.

"We are optimistic that through these projects these communities will move closer to fulfilling the foundation's vision that every child in Illinois grow up healthy," Heather Alderman, ILCHF's president, said.

Centerstone was one of five organizations receiving implementation grants from ILCHF that totaled $10.5 million.

For more information about the grant, visit Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation at

Centerstone is a not-for-profit health care organization that provides mental health and substance abuse treatment, education and support to communities in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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