Colorado is receiving a $12 million grant to assist youth and their families with serious mental, emotional, and behavioral issues.
The grant comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The funds will be distributed in $3 million increments over the next four years.
Claudia Zundel directs Child, Adolescent, and Family Services at the Colorado Department of Human Services. She says the grant will help agencies communicate and collaborate to aid youth.
"It's really about creating a system," Zundel says. "So we've been working very closely with our sister agencies such as the Department of Education, Healthcare Policy and Financing, to think about how can we systemize this kind of approach."
Zundel says the new services will be aimed at youth at risk of out-of-home placement in hospitals or juvenile justice facilities for behavioral health issues.
Gary Blau directs the Child, Adolescent, and Family branch of SAMHSA. He says it's crucial to target services at youth who have these issues.
"Intervening earlier in the cycle is so important, you know, in terms of improving the long term trajectory of somebody's life," Blau says. "Because the earlier you intervene when these kinds of issues manifest themselves, then the more likely you are to have a better outcome."
The grant will help bolster services in 16 communities throughout the state, including El Paso, Pueblo, and Teller counties.