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State to hand out $111M in behavioral health care grants

Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), Health Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera Scott and Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D-Howard and Montgomery) promote a grant opportunity to provide better behavioral health services in schools on Sept. 19, 2023. Photo by Danielle J. Brown.

Approximately $111 million will start to be disbursed this year to provide a variety of health care services for families and their children as part of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reform plan.

That’s based on 129 grants submitted to the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission made from recommendations by the Consortium on Coordinated Community Supports. The commission serves as a fiscal agent for the consortium, which was established by the General Assembly in 2021 as part of the Blueprint plan.

The consortium is responsible for developing a statewide framework to expand access for behavioral health services for Maryland students. The $111 million comes from the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future fund.

According to the consortium, “programs will begin this spring and continue through next year.” The group plans to hold an online meeting to officially authorize the spending on Tuesday morning.

About two hours afterward, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) will lead a news conference to announce the awards and discuss them in greater detail. Others scheduled to attend the news conference are Maryland Department of Health Secretary Laura Herrera Scott; Edward Kasemeyer, a former state senator who is chair of the Health Resources Commission; consortium Chair David Rudolph, a forum state delegate; Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D-Howard and Montgomery); and Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore County), who’s also a former teacher.

Kasemeyer, Hester and Ebersole also serve on the consortium. The roster also includes former Maryland Superintendent of Schools Mohammad Choudhury, but he chose to not seek another term in that position in September. Carey Wright currently serves as in the interim superintendent.

When the consortium met in November, it evaluated about 258 project proposals from all 24 school systems that totaled about $380 million. During that time, project requests ranged from $37,000 to nearly $18 million.

One of the biggest awards, according to the commission’s Feb. 9 list of 129 grants, is $4 million for Sheppard Pratt Health System Inc. Part of the project description notes it will provide individual and family therapy, case management and psychiatric services in Frederick County.

Sheppard Pratt Health will also receive at least an additional $6.5 million to offer similar services in Howard ($2.5 million), Prince George’s ($2 million) and Washington ($2 million) counties.

Thrive Behavioral Health was awarded $6.7 million to provide substance abuse prevention, early childhood intervention, parent support groups and other services in Anne Arundel County.

Some of the other organizations to receive awards include:

  • Allegany College of Maryland – $825,000 to provide school-wide presentations on evidence-based stress relief tools and small group programming for students, parents and caregivers.
  • Garrett County Health Department – $775,000 to provide school-based behavioral counseling, after school and telehealth services. Also to offer students transportation to behavioral health services.
  • The Y in Central Maryland – $1.9 million to provide support for children and families and peer support groups.

About 19 grants at nearly $25 million were awarded for community health agencies, nonprofit organizations and other groups in the majority-Black jurisdiction of Prince George’s County.

About 11 grants totaling $12 million will go to Johns Hopkins University, nonprofit organizations and other groups in the city of Baltimore.

Frederick County had the second highest number of grant awardees at 12, totaling $7.6 million.


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State to hand out $111M in behavioral health care grants