The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has chosen Allegheny County as the pilot site for Project LAUNCH, a new program focused on the mental and behavioral health of children. The effort will be seeded by a $4 million federal grant and will be augmented by an estimated $50,000 "in-kind" contribution from the county.
The project will focus on children ages 0-8, and will combine at home nursing care, screenings, and various promotions about metal health.
“The focus of the grant will be to develop resources for families to understand ways in which they can sustain [and] nurture the health of their children, both their physical health as well as their social and emotional development,” said Stan Mrozowski Director of the Pennsylvania Children’s Bureau in the state office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
The grant will award $800,000 for 5 years, with most of the money going to Allegheny County. 15% will stay at the state level for administrative needs.
Project LAUNCH plans to partner with daycare and pediatrics workers to screen pregnant mothers and children. If a mother or child seems to be at risk they will be directed to one of the many programs that Allegheny County already offers.
Mrozowski said Allegheny County was chosen as the pilot site in part because of the number and type of programs already in place to help children.
“This grant will enable to county to pull together all of those disparate resources and initiatives, all of the well-intended approaches into one comprehensive plan that would weed out duplications, that would identify where there are gaps, and fill in where there are gaps,” said Mrozowski.
As part of the program four individuals will be hired. Two will work at the state level, one in the Office of Mental Health and the other in the PA Department of Health Bureau of Family Health. The other two will be employed at the county level. One fulltime worker will serve as the young child wellness coordinator and the other as a fulltime evaluator at the University of Pittsburgh.
In three years the state plans to hold a conference in Allegheny County to discus findings and explore ways to implement the program throughout the state.
The grant will officially start on September 30th and will take about seven months to plan, before screenings will start.