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Allendale receives grant to work with schools on mental health outreach project

Tuesday, July 15, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bill Cox
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A new three-year grant will give local public-school teachers the opportunity to learn how to help students with emotional and behavioral challenges to remain in school and be successful in the classroom, officials said Tuesday.

The McGraw Foundation awarded the $150,000 grant to support and expand an Allendale Association outreach program that will benefit Lake County students whose mental health challenges interfere with their learning.

Allendale's Relational Re-Enactment Systems Approach to Treatment program will train teachers to be pro-active about recognizing symptoms of mental health problems and how to intervene to help those students, Allendale officials said in a news release.

"I think this is such a win-win situation," McGraw Foundation Executive Director Gordon LaBounty said at a ceremony where he presented the first $50,000 installment to Allendale officials.

The McGraw Foundation was established in 1948 for charitable purposes, officials said, and makes annual contributions to not-for-profit organizations. McGraw and Allendale have had a relationship since the 1960s.

Bernard Rinella, a board member with both groups for nearly 50 years, said the Foundation looks to put money where it would be well-used, and Allendale has been a recipient of McGraw's financial support 53 times since the early 1960s when it first donated $200.

Allendale, the private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1897, provides professional mental health care, education and treatment for more than 1,200 troubled youths and their families annually at the campus in Lake Villa, said Mary Shahbazian, the organization's president and CEO.

Through the REStArT outreach program, Allendale's experts, including psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers, have had 98 percent of the students receiving the services remain in their home school district, according to Allendale officials.

Allendale launched test projects in several Waukegan and Zion classrooms last year. With the grant, more schools will be able to participate in the project, none have been identified yet, but Shahbazian said Allendale can now approach schools offering the services because of the grant.

Shahbazian said being pro-active about mental health can prevent a point of crisis.

"A lot of times, if there had been competent and thoughtful care early on, problems could have been prevented," she said.

Allendale has a day school program and live-in program, Shahbazian said, but the goal is to avoid unnecessary placement into the residential program by educating teachers and adults who have children with mental health challenges.

That's the mission of the REStArT program, she added.

"We're thrilled, we appreciate it and we won't disappoint you, I promise," Shahbazian told LaBounty and Rinella.

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