Community Mental Hygiene Looks To Add New Position To Support School-based Services
Published: August 1st, 2022
By: Shawn Magrath

NORWICH – Community Mental Hygiene and Behavioral Health Services of Chenango County is looking to broaden its outreach efforts by adding a new supervisory role to oversee clinicians that are based in schools throughout the county.

Community Services Director Liz Warneck made her case for the new position before the county’s personnel committee last week, arguing that increased demand for school-based services has created an increased workload for existing staff.

“With such a large increase in workload, it’s really not manageable for our community support program coordinator position to be able to manage that in addition to the other responsibilities that position holds,” said Warneck.

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The agency currently has seven full-time school based program coordinator positions in different school districts in the county. The new position proposed for the 2023 budget year would oversee those seven positions, as well as have the licensing ability to see individuals in the county’s mental health clinic in Norwich.

Warneck said the new position would be funded by school contributions as well as revenue generated by services provided in the mental health clinic. Money paid out would be recouped by billing Medicaid and insurance providers for rendered services. There’s no need for increased local share or additional state aid; and Warneck said if schools’ demand were to diminish, then the position would likely go away.

The intent of school-based clinics is simple – to reach kids at a young age in order to prevent more serious behavioral health issues when they’re older. Demand is growing, said Warneck. In June, Community Services added a clinician for the Greene Central School District. The Otselic Valley Central School has requested its clinician be on campus two times per week.

“This program has been highly successful in terms of its growth and its ability to interface with children,” Warneck added, citing “growth potential” as school districts continue reaching out for additional services. In 2021, Community Services saw more than 600 child cases, 50 percent of which were seen in a school-based program.

Embedded Community Services satellite clinics go above and beyond the services that are already offered by school guidance counselors and social workers. Unlike school counselors, Community Services clinicians operate under the auspices of a licensed outpatient clinic. This means kids have access to more intensive treatment options.

Warneck’s proposal was accepted by the county’s personnel committee last Wednesday after being greenlit by the county Health and Human Services Committee just days prior. A resolution giving final approval for the new position will go before the full county board on Aug. 8.