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Communities in Schools expanding mental health services in Cambria County

Tribune-Democrat - 9/18/2022

Sep. 18—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania is expanding its services to two additional schools in Cambria CountyCentral Cambria Middle School and the Morrell Neighborhood Preschool.

"These additional services should pay huge dividends for our students," Central Cambria Superintendent Jason Moore said. "Mental health challenges experienced by children and adolescents are occurring at exceptionally high levels, and the reality is that kids can't learn when their basic needs aren't being met. It's our obligation to do whatever we can to help them."

Moore said the district leaders were exploring additional supports and Assistant Superintendent Tricia Murin, who's a former guidance counselor, and Director of Special Education Melissa Shaffer discovered that Communities in Schools was looking to broaden its footprint in Cambria County.

With the support of the school board, a two-year agreement was signed.

CISPA provides a variety of assistance to students in schools served by the organization.

That includes mentoring and tutoring, individualized intervention, family assistance, after-school programming and more.

During the 2021-22 school year, the group served 16,035 students through tier 1 or whole school supports and distributed 45,153 basic items, such as school supplies, hygiene products, clothing and food.

"The expansion of CISPA programming in Pennsylvania's southwestern region is exciting not only for our organization, but more importantly the students and families we will serve at these new sites," CISPA Johnstown/Somerset Program Manager Tim Grose said in a release. "As always, our plan is to build a strong relationship that will produce positive outcomes for the students, families and surrounding community."

Prior to adding Central Cambria and the preschool, the organization partnered with Greater Johnstown School District at its three buildings.

Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania began in 1994 as a statewide advocacy and fundraising group that worked to support accredited affiliates in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley.

The first school-based programs were started in 2014 in the School District of the City of York.

CISPA now serves 25 schools across 11 districts across the state, with the mission to "surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life."


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