October 11, 2016 (FLINT, MI) — The City of Flint announced the award of a five-year, $4,860,530 million grant by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services for the Flint Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) program. The goal of ReCAST is to empower local community collaboration to assist youth and families in communities that have recently faced civil unrest through evidence-based violence prevention, community youth engagement, and trauma-informed behavioral health services. The ReCAST grant is a competitive grant which seven communities received around the United States.
The Flint ReCAST Program is designed to promote resilience in the Flint community by supporting youth and families, mitigating the impact of trauma, reducing behavioral health disparities and increasing the opportunities and training for Flint youth through strong community engagement strategies. The target population addressed by this project includes youth and their families impacted by various sources of distress, including the Flint Water Emergency.
“Decades of poverty, neglect, racism, and widespread disparity have resulted in generations of Flint residents suffering from the effects of trauma in neighborhoods across our city. We must recognize, treat, and prevent trauma,” said City of Flint Mayor Dr. Karen W. Weaver. “Through this grant, we will be able to directly engage our community partners and support our most valuable resources: our residents. Together, we will provide thousands of Flint residents with the tools and supports necessary to break systemic cycles of trauma and create a healthy, resilient, and well city.”
Specifically, the program will implement strategies to build community and family resilience through high-quality, trauma-informed, community-based services – including youth and community organizing, mentoring programs, and youth development – across multiple sectors. Dr. Vicki Johnson-Lawrence, Epidemiologist at University of Michigan-Flint, emphasizes, “This grant is centered on resilience and rebuilding the wellbeing of Flint residents.”
This Flint ReCAST project is built on significant community participation; community partnerships are central to the process. The grant will be led by the City of Flint in partnership with The University of Michigan-Flint, and a Community Advisory Board consisting of resident representatives who will guide the ongoing development, implementation, and creation of a Flint ReCAST Strategic Plan. Initially, a coalition of partners, community members, and others formed through the proposal development process. Community residents are valued in the ReCAST process as subject matter experts to life experience, behavioral health strengths and needs, and the impact of trauma in the Flint community. Local residents who are interested in advising the planning process and further developing the project are asked to please contact the Flint ReCAST project as soon as possible.
Current ReCAST implementation partners include:
- The University of Michigan-Flint
- Genesee County Health Department
- Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center
- Youth Violence Prevention Center
- Genesee Health System
- Flint Community Schools
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
- Michigan Department of Civil Rights
- Police Athletic League
- Flint and Genesee Literacy Network
- Boys and Girls Club
- United Way of Genesee County
- Ennis Center
- WOW Outreach
- Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development
- REACH / Traverse Place
- Big Brothers / Big Sisters
- North Center Church of Christ
- Mott Community College
- Legal Services of Eastern Michigan
Additionally, a Youth Public Mental Health Leadership Academy will be developed. This Academy will build on the history of engagement activities of youth and their families while building improved behavioral health professional and community capacity and resources that will provide legacy support going forward.
These funds will be directed by the partnership between the City of Flint and UM-Flint, with guidance of the Community Advisory Board, to meet the future needs identified in the forthcoming Flint ReCAST Strategic Plan.
“We need to recognize and encourage how community-led change can become a critical tool in improving the health and lives of Flint residents,” said Dr. Pamela Pugh, the new Chief Public Health Officer for the City of Flint. “This new grant program will be an important step forward in these efforts and reflects our community’s commitment to breaking cycles of trauma in our city.”
This is the latest coordinated effort to enhance resilience and ameliorate the impact of trauma in the Flint community, including that associated with the Flint Water Emergency. Other efforts include:
- Implementation of a state-funded Fast Start Initiative to begin to replace lead pipes of homes with some of the highest lead rates;
- Training by Genesee Health System of 77 teachers in Psychological First Aid for students as part of their professional development;
- Expansion of Medicaid at no cost to residents with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level to cover an estimated 15,000 children and pregnant women who have been served by Flint’s water system;
- Recognizing that civil unrest and trauma is a generational challenge impacted by the social determinants that shape people’s lives.
These efforts are consistent with Imagine Flint, the city’s Master Plan which focuses on promoting equity and well-being with an overarching vision to improve the quality of life for Flint residents. Input and participation inquiries are welcomed and can be accepted via email [email protected] or via mail at:
UM-Flint Public Health and Health Sciences c/o Dr. Vicki Johnson-Lawrence – ReCAST 3124 William S. White Building 303 E. Kearsley St Flint MI 48502.