November 23, 2021

Oneida County Department of Mental Health Announces Innovation & Improvement Fund Awards

News Photo

The Oneida County Department of Mental Health announced that it has awarded more than $600,000 in project money to six local organizations through its 2021 Innovation & Improvement Fund.

This year’s awardees are Integrated Community Alternatives Network (ICAN), Mohawk Valley Health System Foundation, The Neighborhood Center, Inc., The Center, The ARC Oneida-Lewis Chapter and Upstate Cerebral Palsy.

“The same way that COVID-19 has long-term physical effects, it also has long-term mental health ramifications,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “In order to identify gaps in our local mental health system and create actions necessary to bolster services, we need to understand the mental health consequences of this pandemic more thoroughly. We must also provide support where we can based on our current knowledge of deficits. We are proud to partner with each of the selected organizations to implement projects that will have an immediate impact.”

The Department of Mental Health received 14 full proposal submissions for its Innovation & Improvement Fund, totaling more than $2 million in requests. Six proposals were ultimately selected to receive funding based on the following criteria:

  • Addresses needs in the areas of mental health, substance use and/or intellectual/developmental disability.
  • Improves the system of behavioral healthcare for patients with Medicaid and/or no insurance.
  • Fosters cross-sector collaboration between the behavioral health care sector and CBOs and non-traditional partnerships such as the corrections/judicial and school systems.
  • Decreases unnecessary hospital utilization by Medicaid/uninsured patients.
  • Addresses local priorities, service gaps, needs and outcomes identified in Oneida County Department of Mental Health’s Local Services Plan.
  • Addresses social and behavioral determinants of health and community health needs.
  • Increases primary and preventive service utilization by Medicaid/uninsured patients.
  • Promotes collaboration and practices that align with the Oneida County Department of Mental Health’s mission, vision and values.

“We received so many quality proposals that it made for a very difficult selection process,” said Ashlee Thompson, Commissioner of the Oneida County Department of Mental Health. “We thank all applicant organizations for their participation and commitment to strengthening our county’s system of behavioral healthcare. The selected proposals represent a diverse array of projects that directly address gaps in one or more of the areas of mental health, substance use and intellectual and developmental disability.”

The full list of 2021 Innovation & Improvement Fund awardees is as follows:

Integrated Community Alternatives Network (ICAN)

Amount Awarded: $200,000

Project Summary: ICAN is requesting funding to support the provision of trauma-informed treatment for children and youth ages 10-17 who are experiencing symptoms of psychiatric crisis and acute stress that impairs their ability to cope with life circumstances. This includes, but is not limited to, children with a psychological or psychiatric evaluation that includes a DSM-IV Axis I-V diagnosis. In addition, ICAN will offer support and services to the family members of these children and youth. For children, youth and families, ICAN will provide trauma informed and evidence-based crisis intervention and crisis residential services. ICAN is prepared to invest over $1.5 million toward this project, which includes establishing a Children’s Crisis Residential center, or a home-like environment to treat children and youth in crisis.

Mohawk Valley Health System Foundation

Amount Awarded: $170,329

Project Summary: Mohawk Valley Health System Foundation seeks support for the creation of a psychiatry residency to expand Mohawk Valley Health System’s Graduate Medical Education Program. The project will address the lack of mental health providers in the county, a well-documented need, by increasing the number of psychiatrists in the region to provide mental health and substance use disorder services in the community. Funding will help support the initial costs incurred to become accredited, including partial cost of hiring leadership and core faculty. MVHS is prepared to invest over $2.4 million toward this project. The initial class of residents are expected to begin in July 2022.

The Neighborhood Center, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $86,698

Project Summary: The Neighborhood Center's Adult Recovery Services (ARS) Program is requesting funding to be used to increase and improve the services offered through the Adult Recovery Services Program. These program enhancements will include transportation for members, evidenced based curricula to improve long-term recovery, electronics to increase vocational skills, meals to help decrease food insecurity and funding for community outings to increase inclusivity and appropriate socialization. With these enhancements, ARS members will have the increased ability to improve their overall health and well-being, and empower a more active role in long-term recovery.

The Center (Formerly the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees)

Amount Awarded: $75,086

Project Summary: The Center will partner with Upstate Cerebral Palsy’s Community Behavioral Health Services (CHBS) to embed an on-site mental health counselor at The Center to facilitate services for clients served by The Center. The clinician will be responsible for screening all new adult refugee arrivals, utilizing a culturally specific screening tool, with the intention to provide and encourage behavioral health services to those individuals who screen positive, as well as provide mental health services for other refugees and immigrants from the community. Embedding a mental health counselor within The Center will allow for real-time assessments and treatment in place. This is particularly beneficial for diverse populations who often face barriers such as transportation or miscommunication due to language barriers that result in missed or late arrivals to appointments. Treatment in place will provide vulnerable populations with immediate behavioral health services, which is intended to support the well-being of clients, and also prevent emergency room visits due to mental health crises that necessitate a higher level of intervention. An estimated 500 refugees and immigrants are anticipated to be served through the proposed two-year project.

The Arc Oneida-Lewis Chapter

Amount Awarded: $67,887

Project Summary: The Arc Oneida-Lewis Chapter seeks funding to support the implementation of a program known as Smart Homes for Safe Living, which will provide independent, empowered living environments for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities supplied by The Arc Oneida-Lewis. Nine homes, all currently operated by The Arc Oneida-Lewis, will be outfitted with innovative technology to ensure the tasks of daily life are within reach for newly independent and semi-independent individuals. This will not only allow independence for individuals, but it will also keep staff available for individuals with greater needs.

Upstate Cerebral Palsy (UCP)

Amount Awarded: $63,555

Project Summary: Upstate Cerebral Palsy (UCP) will expand their Connection, Advocacy, Resource and Empowerment Services (CARES) program, which currently enables staff to identify the needs of individuals through a standardized screening and referral process utilized in fixed-site and mobile outreach settings. The purpose of the program is to address the unmet mental health, substance use and physical health needs for individuals residing in Oneida County. Funding will be used to support the development and recruitment of the peer workforce, purchase a vehicle for the purpose of mobile outreach and engagement activities provided by peers and other key members of the care team and purchase technology to enhance the CARES referral database.

For more information on the Oneida County Department of Mental Health’s Innovation & Improvement Fund, please contact Commissioner Thompson at or (315) 768-3660.

Oneida County Partners