HHS Awards Funds For Mental Health

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced today $250,000 in Affordable Care Act funding to support a health center in Georgia to establish or expand behavioral health services for 2,030 Georgians. Nationally, HHS awarded $54.6 million in Affordable Care Act funding to support 221 health centers in 47 states and Puerto Rico to establish or expand behavioral health services for over 450,000 people. Health centers will use these new funds for efforts such as hiring new mental health professionals, adding mental health and substance use disorder health services, and employing integrated models of primary care.

“These awards will further reduce the barriers that too often prevent Georgians from getting the help they need for mental health problems,” said Secretary Burwell. “Health centers in Georgia with these awards are on the front lines of better integrating mental health into primary care and improving access to care through the Affordable Care Act.”

The Affordable Care Act expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits for approximately 60 million Americans nationwide, including 2,036,026 Georgians. Today’s announcement gives those with newly expanded health coverage additional opportunities to access high quality care.

“These Affordable Care Act funds will enable community health centers to better meet the needs of people with mental health conditions in communities across Georgia,” said Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. Today, nearly 33 health centers operate more than 193 service delivery sites that provide care to over 321,210 patients in Georgia. In 2013, Georgia health centers saw over 4,638 behavioral health patients. Nationally, nearly 1,300 health centers operate more than 9,200 service delivery sites that provide care to over 21.7 million patients in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin. In 2013, health centers saw over 1.2 million behavioral health patients nationwide.

For a list of awardees, please see: www.hrsa.gov/about/news/2014tables/behavioralhealth/.

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act and Community Health Centers, visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/healthcenterfactsheet.pdf.

To learn more about HRSA’s Community Health Center Program, visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html.

To find a health center in your area, visit http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov.

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APS Seeks Input On Operating Models For School System Flexibility

ATLANTA—Atlanta Public Schools will host Community Visioning Sessions across the district to inform and gather feedback from stakeholders about the Georgia Department of Education school system operating models and flexibility options.

The sessions are opportunities to inform the community of the potential choices facing the district and collect feedback from stakeholders – parents, guardians, students, district employees and community members.

Atlanta Public Schools, like other school districts, is legally required to notify the Georgia Department of Education which flexibility option it intends to adopt by June 30, 2015. An advisory committee has been created with representatives from the district’s schools and administration, as well as appointments from community groups and PTAs. The advisory committee will consider the community’s input in a recommendation it will make to the superintendent in October.

The three major school system operating models and flexibility options are Investing in Educational Excellence (IE2) system, Charter system, and Status Quo system.

This is a major decision for school districts across the state. Public school systems in Georgia are governed by the state’s education law, better known as Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.). The operating models vary in requirements for governance structure and allow systems the flexibility to innovate and increase autonomy, including waivers from state laws, rules and guidelines in exchange for greater accountability and for improving student performance.

In recent school years, the district has used waivers from state requirements such as mandatory class sizes, expenditure controls, and staffing. Depending on the operating model chosen, Atlanta Public Schools and other Georgia districts can continue to receive these and similar waivers.

For more information on the dates, times and locations, please visit the following link for our Visioning Sessions. For a complete outline of the Atlanta Public Schools planning process for operating models, please visit Building Stronger Schools Today.

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 106 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies, where students are offered rigorous instructional programs that foster success in school and life. For more information, visit www.atlantapublicschools.us

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As Trial Begins, APS Focuses On Students And The Future

ATLANTA—As the CRCT trial begins for 12 former Atlanta Public Schools employees, as many as 72 students and 100 employees could be called to testify according to the Fulton County District Attorney. APS has put measures in place to ensure a smooth process and to prevent any disruption in teaching and learning for teachers and students.

“Although this is a very painful time for everyone involved, there is reason to be optimistic. We now have a new, student-focused APS board and superintendent. We’re on the right path and the future is bright,” says Courtney English, chair of the Atlanta Board of Education.

While acknowledging the failures that have taken place in the past, English says that steps are being taken to do everything possible to make sure they never happen again while at the same time giving the students the best education possible.

For those students who may be called to testify, special care will be given to make up for any lost time in their studies. Counseling will be available for any student who may need assistance during these proceedings.

To that end, APS will take seriously any new information that may unfold during the course of the trial that impacts current teachers and employees. “If any misconduct is brought forth, there will be due process for those individuals and action will be taken decisively,” says Glenn Brock, chief legal counsel for APS.

APS principals will be supportive to answer any questions or address concerns for all parents and family members of students.

The new APS Superintendent, Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen, who officially began her duties July 7, 2014, is focused on the students and moving the school district forward. Carstarphen noted that reforms and progress will not happen overnight, but they will happen and the students will always come first.

"We will not only follow all ethical guidelines in everything we do, but we will also act with integrity and always strive to do the right thing. We will be transparent and open with parents, teachers, students, other employees and the public," says Carstarphen.

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Fulton Fresh Mobile Farmers Market Ends Season

On Wednesday, August 27 at 10 a.m., Fulton County Cooperative Extension will celebrate the successful fourth season of the Fulton Fresh Mobile Farmer’s Market. This year, the program provided approximately 31.5 tons of fresh produce to more than 6,900 residents in 24 Fulton County communities.

The celebration will take place at Berean seventh Day Adventist Church located at 291 Hamilton E. Holmes Drive, Atlanta, GA 30331 and is open to all Fulton County residents.

The closing ceremony will include comments from Chairman John Eaves, Fulton County Board of Commissioners and Valeria Pickard, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Fulton Fresh was founded in 2011 as part of Fulton County’s continuous effort to address health disparities. Communities served by the seasonal program benefit from the delivery of fresh produce, nutrition education and were taught how to prepare tasty, healthy meals with the produce they received.

Information about Cooperative Extension and other county services will be available as well as healthy treats and fresh produce from the Fulton Fresh Mobile Farmer’s Market. Program participants who chose to submit a healthy recipe will be recognized for their efforts.

For more information about the closing ceremony and Fulton County Cooperative Extension, call 404-332-2400.