Volume 15| Summer 2021
Tri County Community Connections
Youth Success Story
Tri County CMO supports youth with many kinds of challenges. When Gabriella (Gabi) started with CMO services, she was struggling in school, did not have many strengths within her family, and was engaging in activities that were a safety concern. When COVID-19 hit, school became virtual, community activities closed, and Gabi had a lot more time to focus on herself. Despite the disruption that most felt from the pandemic, Gabi chose to use this time to really receive the benefits of therapy, work on her academics and her family relationships, and find employment. Last fall, Gabi became pregnant. This was another life-altering change that Gabi used as motivation to better herself. Gabi has been able to make safer choices, save money and prepare for her future child. Gabi even advocated for herself to receive services and support through Community Coordinated Child Care (4 C’s) which provides resources and linkage to services for parents in NJ. Such progress was made that Gabi has now graduated from CMO services! Gabi’s Care Manager, Kathleen Lynch, and all of her CMO team are so proud of how she has turned her life around and what she has accomplished. We at Tri County CMO wish Gabi all the best as she enters this next chapter of her life!

From the Desk of…
James Parauda, CEO

Returning to school will take some additional planning...
The concept of being locked down at home seemed to be an interesting proposition at first. There were many advantages, including not having to commute to work, no childcare costs and more family time. However, the lack of social interaction with friends, co-workers and extended relatives were missed over time. In addition, not having fun activities such as sports, entertainment and travel became increasingly difficult to miss out on. The inconvenience of having to wear a mask everywhere to protect yourself and others became tiresome. For most children, the lack of in-person school and the socialization that comes with it was hard to adjust to, and virtual learning was not for all students. These factors made the past year and a half very stressful for families.
The moment we’ve all been yearning for, a return to school and “normalcy”, will be here soon enough. Although we have been waiting for this moment, it will still take some preparation both for parents and for children. Parents will have to help children adjust to some of the innovative ways of communicating with others from a virtual world back to an in-person world. We haven’t lost the ability to function in a virtual world, but we have to prioritize those situations that we want to do in-person versus virtual. Some things will be optional to be in-person; others will not. School will be in person this fall in New Jersey and for most children and families, this will be a big adjustment. Refamiliarizing yourself with the family routine will take some planning. Which daycare will we be using? What to pack for lunch? Who will pick up the kids from practice? What’s for dinner?
There are some important things to research as part of your planning process. Know your state and school district's or childcare provider's COVID-19 guidelines. They may be different from one district to the next. This information can usually be found through the district's website. Talk with your kids about it being safe to go in person now. Don’t be afraid to discuss what’s changed that makes it safe now, but not before? Let them know that the primary concerns about the spread to others and the major medical impact have been greatly reduced through vaccination, better hygiene practices and medical advances. People are much less likely to get COVID-19 and medical facilities are much better equipped to provide treatment. You can even point out how vaccines or medical advances have reduced other serious illnesses in the past, such as the flu, to a manageable illness through vaccines and medical treatments. If children are still concerned about infecting others, let them know that most of the vulnerable adults, such as your grandparents or neighbors, have had the opportunity to be vaccinated now. Point out that this is the major difference as to why you could not go in person before but now you can. 
You can check the following websites as it gets closer to the school year for updates related to returning to school this fall:

James Parauda, LSW
Chief Executive Officer
Pride in Partnership

The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, Inc. (SPTS) is a 501(c)3 public charity, incorporated on January 18, 2005. The organization was founded by two Monmouth County, New Jersey fathers who each experienced the devastating loss of a teenage child by suicide. SPTS is dedicated to increasing awareness, saving lives and reducing the stigma of suicide through specialized training programs and resources that empower teens, parents and educational leaders with the skills needed to help youth build a life of resiliency.
For over fifteen years, SPTS has provided assistance to communities in need, most specifically to educators, parents and teens. SPTS was instrumental in the passage of legislation in New Jersey in 2006 requiring public educators to have a minimum of two hours of suicide prevention training every professional development period. SPTS developed a free, best practices, online training program for educators; published the Lifelines Trilogy, an evidence-based, best practices, whole-school suicide prevention program; and produced Not My Kid: What Every Parent Should Know, a best practices video for parents to increase awareness and knowledge about youth suicide. SPTS offers a variety of prevention training programs and presentations such as Making Educators Partners in Youth Suicide Prevention, Making Youth Agencies Partners in Youth Suicide Prevention, Raising Resilient Teens in Challenging Times, and the Role of the Trusted Adult. SPTS has routinely worked with states in developing community coalitions, implementing the Lifelines curriculum, enhancing community support and preparing districts for an organized response to traumatic events. SPTS has presented to over 30,000 educators, parents and students across more than half the country and trained over 555,000 educators through its online training programs. Annually, it is estimated that SPTS directly serves 375,000 individuals. Though statistics are not able to report the number of lives directly saved by the efforts of our organization, it is estimated that over 14.5 million youth have been potentially impacted as a result of training and resources made readily available by SPTS.

SPTS is currently working with the Tri County CMO in efforts to solidify policies and procedures regarding crisis response. In addition, SPTS is training Tri County CMO staff on Intervention, a training on how to assess and manage at-risk youth. SPTS is honored and very excited to continue our partnership with the Tri County CMO, because together we can make a difference in the lives of the families we serve.
Getting back to business! Celebrating our first IN PERSON Event post COVID-19!!
Tri County CMO participated in Warren County's first annual health and wellness field day! This event was a culmination of county wide resources coming together to support the mental health needs of the community! The Warren County Prosecutor's Office under the direction of James Pfeiffer along with the Warren County Board of County Commissioners sponsored the event. Community providers and partners who also participated in this event included Maliq Griffin (Live Art), Parent to Parent Hope One Van, Firth Youth Center, Family Support Organization, Norwescap NJCEED, Hispanic Resource Center of Northwest NJ, Catholic Chariteis, Contextual Famliy Services, Atlantic Health, Imperfect Phil, Healing and Light Reiki, Family Guidance Center, Menal Health Association of NJ, DASACC, Pocono Mountain Recovery, Ennoble Care, and NAMI. This event included special appearances by magician and anti-bully educator Michael Kirschner, and Emmy-nominated rapper/actor, T.O.N.E-z, Both spoke on mental health and the importance of asking for help and recognizing when others may be in need of help as well. Fun activities included photo booth, games, sports, yoga, giveaways and music aimed at enhancing mental and physical wellness.
There was a huge presence from Warren County Awareness Addiction Task Force, Warren County Department of Human Services, and law enforcement agencies including; NJ State Police, Warren County Sheriff's Office and police Departments from Washington Township, Mansfield, Blairstown and Lopatcong.
Community Corner...

RICHARD HALL COMMUNITY HEALTH AND WELLNESS CENTER A CERTIFIED COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CLINIC
Richard Hall is proud to be the only Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) located in Somerset County. Our approach unites physical and behavioral health care systems, providing individuals better access to a wide of array of comprehensive services in one location.
Comprehensive Care is Key
The service selection is deliberate, expanding the range of care available. CCBHCs provide a comprehensive array of services needed to create access, stabilize people in crisis and provide the necessary treatment for those with the most serious, complex mental illnesses and substance use disorders. CCBHCs integrate additional services to ensure an approach to health care that emphasizes recovery, wellness, trauma-informed care and physical-behavioral health integration. These services include, but are not limited to:
• 24/7/365 mobile crisis team services to help people stabilize in the most clinically appropriate, least restrictive, least traumatizing and most cost-effective settings.
• Immediate screening and risk assessment for mental health, addictions and basic primary care needs to address the chronic co-morbidities that drive poor health outcomes and high costs for those with behavioral health disorders.
• Easy access to care with criteria to assure a reduced wait time so those who need services can receive them when they need them, regardless of ability to pay or location of residence.
• Tailored care for active duty military and veterans to ensure they receive the unique health support essential to their treatment.
• Expanded care coordination with local primary care providers, hospitals, other health care providers, social service providers and law enforcement, with a focus on whole health and comprehensive access to a full range of medical, behavioral and supportive services.
• Commitment to peers and family, recognizing that their involvement is essential for recovery and should be fully integrated into care.

Who is eligible for services?
  • Any individual in need, but with focus on people living with serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, long-term cooccurring problems and complex health profiles.
  • Care is provided regardless of ability to pay; treating those who are underserved; have low incomes; are insured, uninsured or on Medicaid; and those who are active duty military or veterans.
CCBHC alternative interventions:
  • Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS)
  • Equine Assisted Therapy
  • Trauma Releasing Exercises Yoga
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy
  • Walking meditation labyrinth
  • Wellness Groups 

Contact Us:
Access Center: (908) 253-3165
Address: 500 North Bridge Street Bridgewater, NJ 08807
Getting to know TCCMO Office Support Team
In this edition, we would like to recognize and introduce the Office Support Team at Tri County CMO (TCCMO). The team ensures that the Operations Department has all that they need to assist their families throughout Somerset, Warren, and Hunterdon Counties. The Office Support Team also ensures all the behind-the-scenes tasks are completed so the Branchburg and Washington offices can run smoothly. The team is led and supervised by the Director of Office Management, Zulma Perez, who just celebrated her eight year anniversary at TCCMO. As a Social Worker in Mexico, Zulma’s role was to improve lives, make education possible and find job opportunities for youth with disabilities. She loves helping others, the arts and solving problems. After completing her internship at a psychiatric hospital, she reconsidered her social work career. Zulma’s skills of organization and project management guided her new path to a career in office management. Zulma states that, “I truly believe that people possess more than one career and that good things happen when careers and abilities are merged.”

Carolina Galvis-Guevara is our Office Specialist and has been working at TCCMO for over a year. Carolina runs the satellite office in Washington and has 20 years of experience in the administrative field. She is empathetic and enjoys helping others both within TCCMO and within her community. Rossana Amorim, one of our Administrative Assistants, has been working in the administrative field for more than 20 years and she loves her job. Rossana enjoys reading, traveling, and nature. Additionally, she speaks four languages – English, Portuguese, Spanish and German. Rossana also became an American Citizen in March 2021, an accomplishment of which she is immensely proud. Trudy Lazur is another one of our Administrative Assistants who has over 20 years of experience in government and the private sector. She has been part of the TCCMO family for the past seven years. Trudy enjoys using her work experience and her clerical skills to contribute in her own special way to all the youth and communities in the Tri County area. TCCMO’s next Administrative Assistant is Lisbeth Magana, who has been with the agency for three years. Lisbeth has five years of experience working in the school system assisting teachers as well as youth with disabilities. Lisbeth always has a positive attitude and collaborates within the agency workgroups. Lisbeth is also bilingual in English and Spanish which aids our TCCMO families who only speak Spanish. An additional member to the Office Support Team is Patricia Garcia. Patricia has been working at TCCMO for the last five years and she has ten years of experience in the administrative field. Patricia treats others with respect, and is personable and friendly. Furthermore, Patricia is a valued member of the translation workgroup which assists in translations of TCCMO materials from English to Spanish. The Office Support Team is a crucial component to the agency, and many tasks would fall through the cracks without their support. 
TCCMO's Growing Greatness through our Wellness Committee
Tri County CMO (TCCMO) has been utilizing the Nurtured Heart Approach® while working with families since 2018 as part of the Promising Path to Success (PPS) grant. TCCMO has recently begun incorporating the Nurtured Heart Approach® into the work of the Wellness Committee. The TCCMO Wellness Committee focuses on the overall wellbeing of staff within the agency. For TCCMO staff members to continue providing excellent support for the families we serve, it is imperative that we practice what we preach. The Wellness Committee has been receiving coaching from Rutgers Senior Training and Consultation Specialist and Advanced Nurtured Heart Approach® Trainer, Dr. Mario Tommasi, PhD., ABPP. Through the coaching that is being provided, the committee has taken on a new direction where they will not only focus on the physical wellbeing of staff members, but emotional wellbeing as well.

A major aspect of the Nurtured Heart Approach® is verbally recognizing when things are going right and showing appreciation. TCCMO shows appreciation and recognition for staff members through the Wall of Greatness (both in-person and virtual) and the Wellness Committee has taken on the task of ensuring that every staff member feels seen, appreciated and supported. At a recent staff meeting, all 82 staff members were recognized anonymously by co-workers. Day in and day out, the staff of TCCMO is doing whatever it takes to make sure that our families and youth feel supported and we want to make sure that this continues. As the old saying goes, “you cannot pour from an empty cup” and TCCMO is on a mission to ensure that our staff’s cups are overflowing so we can continue to help fill other’s up.

For more information on the Nurtured Heart Approach® and upcoming trainings, please contact Stephanie Suriani ssuriani@tricountycmo.org or Nicole Del Duca ndelduca@tricountycmo.org .

Join us for our upcoming virtual youth workshops!
July 15th 6pm-7:30 pm (ages 14 and up).
For more information on registration please contact Nicole Del Duca at ndelduca@tricountycmo.org.
Join our Caregiver virtual training on August 10 &17th 6-9:00 p.m.
For more information on registration please contact Stephanie Suriani at ssuriani@tricountycmo.org.
Do you know what ACEs are?
Throughout the years, New Jersey has been at the forefront of providing trauma-informed care to those who need mental or behavioral health services. In a recent newsletter, we highlighted the Promising Path to Success (PPS) grant that NJ implemented over the past seven years to bring novel and successful approaches to treatment to the state. Now the Department of Children and Families (specifically DCF's Office of Resiliency) is continuing this work and turning its attention to working on an action plan around Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs.

What exactly is an ACE, you might be wondering? If you are not yet familiar with the terminology or concept, ACEs are stressful or traumatic events that occur before the age of 18. Examples of ACEs can include childhood physical or sexual abuse, food insecurity or having an incarcerated parent or other significant caregiver. (For the ACEs screening, see https://www.theannainstitute.org/Finding%20Your%20ACE%20Score.pdf) Poverty, mental illness, social maladjustment, and poor health are just some examples of the effects of these experiences. However, even if childhood traumatic experiences have occurred, research has shown that the effects can be mitigated by positive experiences and loving relationships, and that with compassionate and nurturing support, people can achieve resilience — the process of adapting and overcoming in the face of adversity.

The New Jersey ACEs Action Plan sets forth a path toward making NJ a trauma-informed and healing-centered state. Informed by community voices through focus groups and other meetings, and supported by state government and the philanthropic sector, the NJ ACEs Action Plan calls for a coordinated, cross-sector, and statewide response to prevent and mitigate the lasting effects of ACEs on children’s health and well-being.

The goals of the ACEs Action Plan are to:
(1) help children and families in New Jersey reach their full potential by growing and developing in relationships that are safe, healthy and protective;
(2) reduce ACE scores in future generations;
(3) develop resource programs and services based on what is learned, rather than focusing on rigid metrics of success or failure; and
(4) look at solutions based on community input that address root causes rather than symptoms.
 
The NJ ACEs Action Plan is driven by five core strategies. These five core strategies were given priority in consultation with NJ families, those most directly impacted by ACEs and community leaders, as well as representatives from various child and family facing sectors.

1.     Achieve Trauma-Informed and Healing-Centered State Designation
2.     Conduct an ACEs Public Awareness and Mobilization Campaign
3.     Maintain Community-Driven Policy and Funding Priorities
4.     Provide Cross-Sector ACEs Training
5.     Promote Trauma-Informed/Healing-Centered Services and Supports

New Jersey is committed to becoming a trauma-informed and healing-centered state — a place where children and families can thrive regardless of who they are or where they live. Coordinated and complementary strategies are required to help prevent, protect against and heal from the effects of ACEs. To read the full ACEs action plan and for more information, go to
In a budget that he describes as paying our bills, meeting our obligations and planning for the future, Governor Murphy signed a record-setting $46.4 billion FY2022 New Jersey budget into law, which will cover all of the state’s planned spending between July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. 
The budget continues to provide much-needed supports to critical programs that serve children and families. It also expands funding to other programs so that more children and families will have access to essential services. These dollars are particularly important as individual families, communities and our state continue to recover from the devastating impact of COVID-19. 
Below are highlights of additional funding in the budget earmarked for children and families:
Education and Child Care
·        $580 million in formula aid for public schools:
·        $50 million in preschool expansion funding;
·        $100 million for extraordinary special education aid;
·        $35 million for the Community College Opportunity Grant, which provides financial assistance to students who attend NJ community colleges;
·        $45 million for The Garden State Guarantee, which will provide two years of free tuition at four-year institutions of higher education for students in their third and fourth years with household incomes of less than $65,000;
·        $10 million in matching payments of up to $750 for taxpayers with incomes below $75,000 when they make a contribution to open a new NJBEST 529 College Savings account;
·        $200 million for current projects under the Schools Development Authority; 
·        $100 million of federal funds for child care to fund facilities improvements, employee supports, and workforce development programming. 
Tax Credits
·        The Child Dependent Care tax credit will be refundable and expand eligibility up to $150,000, more than doubling the number of families qualifying for the credit; 
·        The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Age of Eligibility will be extended from 21 to 18 years of age.
Health Care and Family Services
·        $2.45 million for home visiting;
·        Cover All Kids, a new initiative, will change eligibility, waiting lists, premiums and outreach for approximately 90,000 additional children who remain uninsured; 
·        $8.5 million to extend Medicaid coverage to 365 days for postpartum mothers, and $2 million to create a pilot program to provide expectant mothers with rental assistance. These are part of the First Lady's Nurture NJ Initiative;
·        $19 million to support the new Reproductive Health Care Fund which will pay for contraceptive, prenatal, labor and delivery care for women lacking access to medical care;
·        $250,000 for the Garden State Equality (Adverse Childhood Experiences Resiliency Project).
Juvenile Justice
·        $4.2 million to reduce juvenile delinquency through the County Youth Services Commissions.
To follow these and other issues follow-
Advocates for Children of New Jersey
Questions? Email them at advocates@acnj.org or call us at (973) 643-3876.
*Click on the images to be directed to the Advocacy Updates.
For Your Information...
JUNE ... is LGBTQ+ Pride Month! On June 28, 1969, there was a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gathering spot for members of the LGBTQ+ community and the only gay club in New York City at the time that allowed dancing. Stonewall became a haven for those who were rejected by society, but this also made it a target for frequent police raids, as “homosexual behavior” was still considered criminal in NYC. On the night of the Stonewall Uprising, the police executed a raid on the inn. It was then that the community decided that it had had enough of the harassment and violence inflicted on them by the police. Riots broke out, with members of the community fighting for one of the very few spaces where they were allowed to exist authentically. Riots were also formed in response to the poor treatment of patrons by the police both that night and throughout history. The Uprising energized and empowered the community and its allies to fight even harder for the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. In recognition of the Uprising as well as the community’s strength, endurance, and passion, June was established as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in 1999, and reestablished as LGBT Pride Month in 2009.


JULY... is National Park and Recreation Month! Formally established by George H.W. Bush in 1985, this month recognizes the importance and beauty of our parks. Parks are so many things to so many people – a place to gather, have fun, celebrate birthdays and special occasions, or just enjoy being in nature. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, finding outdoor spaces where one can enjoy the company of others is more important than ever. For more information about parks and recreation opportunities in your county, please visit the following websites:




AUGUST... is National Wellness Month! The purpose of National Wellness Month is to remind us of the importance of wellness and self-care. After the collectively stressful year we have all shared, it might be nice to take some time in August to consider how we can better take care of our mental and physical health. Exercise and movement, diet, proper sleep, and adequate hydration are all pivotal to maintaining overall health. Find an exercise you enjoy – anything from walking, to dancing, to yoga, to swimming – and try it out this August. Or take time to examine your diet and consider where you can make some healthier choices. And with hotter months ahead, don’t forget to drink plenty of water! You may be surprised at how much better you feel once you have established a healthier routine.
Our Board Members
Leslie Brusser – Board Chair
Rikki Goodman- Acting Vice Chair
Ivette Michel– Treasurer
Erin Karl – Secretary
Danielle Zurawiecki
Daniel Kerr
Elizabeth Fischer
Lynne Eaton
Lesly Schwarzman
Gloria Parker



How to Get Referred to Tri County CMO
PerformCare can help a parent or guardian connect their child to Children’s System of Care services. PerformCare staff are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide assessment and guidance to families facing challenges to their functioning and well-being.

PerformCare / Contracted Systems Administrator (CSA)

1-877-652-7624


Branchburg Office
3040 Route 22 West, Suite 210
Branchburg, NJ 08876
Phone: (908) 526-3900
Washington Office
315 West Washington Avenue, Suite 1
Washington, NJ 07882
Phone: (908) 526-3900
Tri County Care Management Organization | info@tricountyresourcenet.org | tricountyresourcenet.org