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Community Care Demonstration Project

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Community Care Demonstration Project responds to the urgent need to address the pressing health and mental health concerns of Oregon’s students, families, and school staff.

Launched in early 2022, the Demonstration Project is being designed and implemented in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority, University of Oregon, and four school districts that represent the geographic and cultural diversity of Oregon. These are Hillsboro, Lake County 7, Phoenix-Talent, and South Lane.

The Demonstration Project is partially funded through September 2024 by $5.5 million in ESSER III Set-Aside funds, and through September 2027 by a $5.4 million Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  

The Demonstration Project seeks to improve the mental health, education, and overall health and well-being of Oregon’s students and families through four goals.

  1. Increase statewide mental health, suicide prevention, and substance use prevention literacy and skill acquisition, and promote staff mental health and well-being in all of Oregon’s 197 school districts.
  2. Develop and deploy credentialed mental health, suicide prevention, and substance use prevention-related professional learning opportunities for school staff and community-based organizations.
  3. Design and implement a model that embeds Community Care staff in schools to provide students and families with emotional support and health and mental health system navigation.
  4. Evaluate the formative/summative impact of these efforts, and make recommendations for implementation, sustainability, and continuous quality improvement.

Goals three and four involve designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating a model that embeds Community Care Specialists in school buildings. The primary role of these linguistically and culturally responsive Specialists is to provide emotional support and mental health and health navigation services to students and families. This often involves connecting families with local systems of care to ensure that identified health and mental health needs are met as rapidly as possible. Wraparound supports often include referrals to mental health services, health, vision and dental care, housing/shelter, food, clothing, and childcare. Specialists either provide warm handoffs or accompany families to services.

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