|The Desert Healthcare District and Foundation Board took a significant step Tuesday, July 26, approving $1,175,817 in grants for behavioral health programs and services in the Coachella Valley.
The action follows the Healthcare District’s release of a Request for Proposals on May 2, which emphasized identifying and addressing the behavioral health needs of valley children (0 to 18 years old) and their families. The grantees, which range from schools to a homeless shelter, propose to use the funds to provide ongoing and new services that aim to expand community access to behavioral/mental health services.
These grants are expected to be the first round of funding awarded to improve access to behavioral healthcare. Contracts are scheduled to begin August 1.
“Behavioral healthcare has always been an important part of the overall health and wellness of residents at every age, and it is especially important at this time for children and young adults affected by the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic, social media, and other challenges they face,” said Dr. Conrado Bárzaga, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation CEO. “These grants from the Healthcare District are a first step in helping Coachella Valley families to heal and move into a brighter, more hopeful future.”
The following grants were approved:
- Desert Sands Unified School District, $296,194. Grant #1340 will allow the school district, which serves about 27,000 students, to add staff including a nurse focused on behavioral health and a behavior analyst to work with children and their families.
- Innercare, aka Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo, $150,000. Grant #1339 will fund two licensed clinical social workers and increases behavioral health services for children and families in Coachella and Mecca. It also supports the clinics’ ability to provide telehealth services.
- Martha’s Village and Kitchen, $99,854. Grant #1336 allows the homeless shelter to focus on behavioral health awareness, education and linkage through increased training and services specific to a shelter program.
- Transgender Health and Wellness Center, $129,769. Grant #1346 supports an opportunity for the center to expand behavioral health services for transgender residents of the Coachella Valley.
- University of California Riverside, $500,000. Grant #1334 will allow the university to expand its CAREspaces on- and off-campus, which are free behavioral health services available to students and their families.
The Desert Healthcare District and Foundation Board first identified behavioral health as a priority in 2018, establishing a Behavioral Health Initiative with a $2 million allocation. Since then it commissioned a community behavioral health needs assessment in 2019, hired Jana Trew as senior program officer for behavioral health in 2021, and included “Proactively expand community access to behavioral/mental health services” as Goal No. 3 in the District and Foundation’s new Strategic Plan. And in June, the Board approved another $2 million allocation in support of behavioral health programs and services.
“The support being extended to these organizations to provide targeted behavioral health education and prevention services to our District children and families is representative of a cross-section of community needs being addressed by a diverse group of providers focused on services that will make a real impact,” said Jana Trew, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation Senior Program Officer for Behavioral Health. “We at the District are excited at the potential support expansion that will be possible as a result.”
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About the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation
The Desert Healthcare District is a local government agency formed in 1948. Its mission is to achieve optimal health at all stages of life for all District residents. The District includes more than 400,000 residents and encompasses the entire Coachella Valley. The District and Desert Healthcare Foundation, together, are one of the largest funders in the valley. These funds are used to assist residents — especially the underserved — in accessing vitally needed resources, such as primary and behavioral healthcare. Learn more at dhcd.org.