Pitt-Edgecombe-Nash Public-Academic Liasion Project (PEN-PAL)
Pitt, Edgecombe, and Nash Counties, NC
The overall goal of the PEN-PAL Project has been to develop a coordinated system of services and training that provides effective, diverse, individualized, child-and family-focused, accessible, community-based services to children and adolescents, and their families, with emphasis on expanding its array of community-based services. By focusing on family strengths at the service delivery level, the project aims for a greater understanding among agencies of the agencies’ different functions, objectives, and target populations. Additionally, per the Public Academic Liaison (PAL) aspect of the project, a purpose was to create a core curriculum in local public universities (in this case East Carolina University) that would support the system of care approach in the undergraduate and graduate realms such that students/graduates exited school with the SOC mindset and understanding, such that retraining in the state of the art SOC approach was not required.
The target population was “children who are experiencing serious emotional or behavioral problems or mental illness, separated from their families or at risk for being removed from their homes, and those who have complex needs that require a variety of services from multiple agencies.” The target population was well articulated by staff, families, and child-serving agencies throughout the system of care. Nash, Edgecombe, and Pitt Counties are primarily rural and poor with pockets of affluent communities. The population of Edgecombe and Nash Counties is 57.6 percent white, 41.9 percent African American, and 0.5 percent other ethnicities. The system of care has two sites where children and families receive mental health services. Each site has a goal to serve 200 children annually. At the time of the 98 site visit, Edgecombe-Nash had 212 open cases while Pitt had approximately 90 open cases and PEN-PAL served approximately 300 children during the past year