McLean County agencies receiving federal money to ease growing youth mental health crisis

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:21 PM CST
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MCLEAN COUNTY (25News Now) - More young people in McLean County are dealing with mental health troubles, and area agencies are receiving $2.1 million in grants over the next four years to ease a situation that leaders believe has reached crisis levels.

The Center for Youth and Family Solutions is one of four child-serving organizations that will receive this funding along with the Regional Office of Education, The Baby Fold and the McLean County Center for Human Services.

Initially, almost $670,000 is earmarked for expanded mental health services for children, young adults and their families.

“We have seen dramatic increases in demand for crisis services from that population,” said Stephanie Barisch, director of therapeutic services at the Center for Youth and Family Solutions.

“It had been increasing over time, but the pandemic increased that demand,” she added.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help expand and sustain services to underinsured youth and their families, increasing in-person and psychiatric services.

Barisch said this funding will help support her center’s programming efforts.

“The short-term goal is hiring the staff. We need to get these services off the ground. Behavioral health is struggling to find qualified candidates and compete with other systems,” she said.

The funding will help parents as well, according to Barisch.

“The inclusion of parent voice, having someone who has lived experience raising their children or taking care of children who experience similar challenges so that they can speak to the impact or the experience of parents in these systems,” said Barisch.

The goal is to reduce the number of children who need higher crisis care and response.