Tennessee Awarded $6 Million to Help Youths At Risk of Being Removed From Their Homes Because of Parent/Caretaker Substance Abuse

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 | 08:51am

NASHVILLE -- The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) has been awarded two grants totaling $6 million by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The larger grant -- totaling $1 million per year for five years -- is a Regional Partnership Grant (RPG) that will allow the TDMHSAS to establish and implement the Therapeutic Intervention, Education, and Skills (TIES) program for children age 17 and younger who are either in or at risk of out-of-home placement due to parent/caretaker substance abuse. The TIES program will create a collection of outreach, treatment, education, counseling, and supportive services for children and families affected by substance abuse and trauma. It will be operated in conjunction with the Seeking Safety curriculum for victims of trauma and the evidence-based Homebuilders model, which is an intensive, in-home crisis program that has already been used successfully around the nation to help keep children in their homes. Already, the TDMHSAS is training all of its funded providers of substance abuse treatment on the Seeking Safety curriculum.

The TIES program is expected to serve 500 ethnically and culturally diverse families in eight urban and rural Middle Tennessee counties (Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, Davidson, Marshall, Maury, Rutherford, and Warren) to help bridge a significant gap in locally available family treatment services. In 2011, parent/caretaker substance abuse issues were a primary factor in more than half of all out-of-home placements in these counties, with prescription drug abuse being considered an epidemic in most of them.

“We are very excited to have received this funding in the hopes of implementing the TIES program to help some of the youngest victims in the State of Tennessee affected by the scourge of substance abuse,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner E. Douglas Varney. “This will allow us to help keep these children in their homes while simultaneously helping their parents or caretakers overcome their substance abuse problems. After all, substance abuse treatment for parents is prevention for kids.”

The TDMHSAS was one of just 17 organizations to receive the RPG funding in what was described as an extremely competitive process. The grant is a partnership among TDMHSAS; the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (TDCS); Centerstone, the area’s primary behavioral health treatment provider; and the Centerstone Research Institute (CRI), a nonprofit research and evaluation organization.

The other grant -- totaling $500,000 per year for two years -- is an extension grant for the Building Strong Families in Rural Tennessee (BSF) grant project. This funding will allow the TDMHSAS to continue to address the needs of children under age 18 who are either in or at imminent risk of out-of-home placement due to parent/caretaker methamphetamine or other substance abuse. The TDMHSAS was one of just eight (8) organizations to receive this two-year funding extension.

Thanks to this extension grant, BSF will be able to continue service delivery by working with 80 families in eight rural Tennessee counties (Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Lincoln, Moore, and Warren) where substance abuse is high. Although the target area comprises just four percent (4%) of Tennessee’s population, the children in this area make up seven percent (7%) of those in custody due to parental substance abuse statewide. In the first six months of 2012, 1,199 children from this area were placed in state custody due to parent/caretaker substance abuse, compared to 1,596 children in all of 2011. Also, parent/caretaker substance abuse was a primary factor in 32 percent (32%) of all out-of-home placements in the area in 2011.

The BSF grant project also utilizes the evidence-based Homebuilders model, and is a partnership among the TDMHSAS, the TDCS, the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (TAOC), Centerstone, and CRI.

For details about ACF and its grant opportunities, please see www.acf.hhs.gov. For details about Seeking Safety, please see www.seekingsafety.org. For details about Homebuilders, please see www.institutefamily.org/programs_IFPS.asp. For details about Centerstone, please see www.centerstone.org. For details about CRI, please see www.centerstoneresearch.org.

For more information about either of these grants, please contact Dr. Edwina Chappell of the TDMHSAS at (615) 741-9476 or Edwina.Chappell@tn.gov.

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