Volume 6 | Spring 2019
Tri County Community Connections
Tri County CMO & FSO Community Picnic 2019
For the past 6 years, Tri County CMO and FSO have held a Community Picnic for youth and families of Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren Counties. Invitations to our June 24th, 2019
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Community Picnic at Forest Lodge, Warren, NJ are being extended to all youth receiving mental health, developmental disability, and substance use services in these counties as well as their families.
Picnic food will be offered along with a diverse range of recreational activities geared for the entire family. Come prepared for a fun day in the sun and bring along swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, water bottles, and hats.
Parent/Guardian must attend (or have a responsible adult substitute) in order for their youth to attend. Transportation (intended for youth and families only) will be available from various locations throughout Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren Counties. Stay on the look-out for invitations!
Youth Success Story
When a caterpillar is in the process of becoming a butterfly, she can spend anywhere from five to twenty-one days in her cocoon, preparing to face the world as a different version of herself. It is a brave but necessary journey of growth and self-discovery, not much different from the roads that many of our CMO-enrolled youth and their families travel. As Daliana’s care manager, I have had the privilege of watching her transform from a shy and anxious child to a vibrant and confident young woman who goes out of her way to make others smile. Daliana would be the first to acknowledge the efforts of her parents in supporting her every step of the way, as well as the work of her intensive in-community (IIC) therapists. The family’s therapeutic support animal, Ruby, who joined Daliana’s family in 2015, has also been a critical component in Daliana’s healing. Daliana has found a comforting environment at Cornerstone Day School, where she will be playing softball this spring. Daliana has always had a natural ability to connect to people and animals and a sassy sense of humor that will brighten anyone’s day. Her creativity and artistic talent have helped her to cope with challenges and distinguish herself amongst her peers. While it is sad for me to say goodbye to Daliana and her family as she graduates from CMO services, it has been a privilege to watch her metamorphosis, and I am excited for her to spread her wings and soar.
Kristen Rivoli
Tell Us More About You for a Chance to Win a Gift Card!
Are you part of an agency who provides services to youth enrolled in the Children’s System of Care? Are you a family member of a youth receiving services who had an outstanding experience with a service provider?
We want to hear from you!!
Please submit a feature to info@tricountycmo.org outlining the work that you do for families or care that you received in Hunterdon, Somerset and/or Warren counties for a chance to be highlighted in one of our upcoming newsletters. Each submission will also be entered into a raffle for one lucky participant to receive a $25 gift card! We look forward to hearing from you!
Franklin and Hillsborough Use Innovative Partnership for In-School Mental Health Care
Across the country, the number of students in K-12 schools with mental health challenges increases each year. Many school districts struggle to implement effective in-district programs for these students, and instead send students to out-of-district placements at times outside of their community, away from familiar peers, in a more restrictive setting.
For the past decade, Effective School Solutions (ESS) has pioneered the use of in-school clinical programs to improve student outcomes. Students stay in their own school, while benefiting from extensive wrap-around programming. Our program is built upon evidence-based protocols and best practices, including:
  • Multiple daily check-ins between experienced clinicians & students
  • Defined protocols for trauma and school avoidance
  • Family therapy and family support groups
The results: attendance and grades go up; disciplinary incidents go down. Students are able to return from out-of-district placements or avoid them in the first place.
ESS has been part of Franklin High School and Hillsborough High School for over 5 years. Both parents and administrators are thrilled with the results. “I don’t know how my child and my family would have survived high school without the support of the ESS program” says one parent. Frank Chmiel, Principal of Franklin High School, when speaking to schools without ESS says “You have no idea what you are missing out on.” Done properly, embedded clinical programs provide a comprehensive blueprint for mental health success.
Save the Date!
Nurtured Heart Approach Workshop
On Wednesday May 8th, Catholic Charities, Hunterdon County Children’s Interagency Coordinating Council (CIACC) and Tri County CMO will be co-sponsoring a free Nurtured Heart Approach workshop from 6:00pm-8:30pm in the Little Theatre at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington. The workshop will be presented by Certified Nurtured Heart Trainers Dawn Lacy, MS, LMFT, Nicole Del Duca, MA, LAC, and Sonia Ron. The Nurtured Heart Approach is a philosophy based on creating healthy relationships with the people in your life. The workshop is intended for all youth, caregivers, and community service providers of Hunterdon County. Giveaways, refreshments, art therapy and resources will be available! RSVP recommended to Terri Baffuto at tbaffuto@ccdom.org .
YMCA Camp Bernie
is the place “Where Kids Belong” this (and every) summer. Incorporating outdoor adventure on 285 acres of wooded mountainside in Port Murray, NJ, and endless opportunities for kids to build social skills, this program is like no other! Climbing, swimming, archery, biking, boating, arts, nature, rocketry, dance, and even horseback riding and dirt biking can be part of your child’s summer adventure in a place where the staff care about your child’s development, teaching them the values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. This happens all within an inclusive environment where children become an integral part of the camp community, regardless of whether it’s their first time, or they’ve been coming for ten years!
Camp Bernie offers Day Camp and Overnight Camp programs for kids in grades K-11 throughout the summer, plus weekly community lessons in archery, dirt bikes, horseback riding, and swimming. Open Houses occur once per month now through June.
To find out more about the program and see Open House dates, visit www.campbernieymca.org , or email info@campbernieymca.org . You can also check us out on Facebook at “Bernie Bear Board”.
DCF Announces Creation of Office of Family Voice
On December 11, 2018 the New Jersey Department of Children and Families announced the creation of the Office of Family Voice. This decision came as a result of feedback received by DCF Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer following her listening tour in fall of 2018. Her tour was intended to elicit feedback from families receiving services from the Department of Children and Families. The goal of the Office of Family Voice is to continue to engage families in ensuring the department’s services are meeting their diverse needs. The Commissioner has appointed Aubrey Powers as Executive Director for the office. He served as Assistant Commissioner in the Office of Performance, Management and Accountability since 2015 and prior to that was Director of Quality Improvement and Director of Provider Relations and Evaluation of Programs with the Department of Human Services in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more information on DCF’s Office of Family Voice, visit https://www.nj.gov/dcf/news/press/2018/approved/181211_familyvoice.html.
To submit feedback regarding DCF services, email: dcf.feedback@dcf.nj.gov.
Tri-County Substance Use Navigators
(Serving Hunterdon, Somerset & Warren Counties)
The Substance Use Navigator (SUN) Initiative is a state-wide initiative which encompasses all twenty-one counties in New Jersey. Substance Use Navigators are not direct service providers, rather their purpose is designed to further access to services for youth and young adults with substance use needs. The role of the Substance Use Navigators consists of the following:
*Identifying community needs, barriers and gaps related to substance use services and resources
*Providing consultation and referrals to community partners working with youth and young adults experiencing substance use challenges
*Providing trainings and workshops to community and system partners to ensure more effective screening, assessing, identifying and recognizing indicators of substance use among youth and young adults in order to access appropriate services

Michael Calderon, LCSW, LCADC and Carolyn Reynolds, LSW are your tri-county Substance Use Navigators. We are ready and excited to serve our communities. We can be reached at:

Michael Calderon                                          Carolyn Reynolds
Office: (908)231-6495                                   (908)231-6414
Cell: (908)381-2437                                      (908)381-2436
Save the Date!
On Wednesday, May 22 nd Tri County CMO and The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide will be co-sponsoring “Raising Resilient Teens in Challenging Times.” The event will take place at 7:00pm in the atrium of Raritan Valley Community College, and registration will begin at 6:30pm. “Raising Resilient Teens” educates parents on the warning signs and risk factors of suicide, dispels myths, answers common questions, discusses protective factors, and encourages parents to speak to their children about suicide prevention. This parent presentation is from the Evidence-based Lifelines: Suicide Prevention program. Funding for this event has been provided by The Provident Bank Foundation. Light refreshments, giveaways and community resources will be available.
How Can Tri County ResourceNet Help You?
Tri County ResouceNet provides a wide range of information about support, resources, and services for families in Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren counties. It is a free, online directory where families and community members can find local recreational activities, health providers, support groups, and events. Health Providers and Community Organizations are able to list their community and health resources, hotlines, support groups, and events. If you provide services or are seeking resources in Hunterdon, Somerset or Warren county, simply go to www.tricountyresourcenet.org to begin your search or to submit your resources today! Not a resident or provider in Hunterdon, Somerset or Warren county? Visit www.njresourcenet.org to find services available near you. 
For Your Information
April is National Autism Awareness Month, and World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2019. Hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world light blue in recognition of people living with autism. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month to increase understanding and acceptance, and foster worldwide support. For more information about local events, see www.autismnj.org or www.autismspeaks.org/new-jersey-0
A Heartfelt Goodbye
This is a special feature written by one of our long-standing board members. Dorella Simpkins has been serving Tri County CMO as a board member for over 8 years. We are truly grateful for her insight and service to our agency.
Giving back has been a part of my makeup since childhood, growing up in Harlem, NY. My mother became a young widow in 1952 when my father died of Leukemia and Pancreatic cancer after 2 years, leaving her to raise three young children ages 6, 8, and 12. She had never worked and wasn’t sure how to move on but was determined not to return to her family home in Birmingham, Alabama. Fortunately, the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of NY came to our aid to provide support and direction that resulted in my mother taking secretarial courses at the local YMCA; my older brother receiving a law degree, I eventually earned a RN, a BA in sociology, and a MS in Community Health Education; and my younger brother followed our father as a construction builder. Welfare was never a part of our lives or agenda, but we had direction on how to make it in the Big Apple. We knew how to not just survive but make it with the help, direction and support of CAS; and I have been determined to do the same for others.

I relocated to the Somerset, NJ area the summer of 1999 to work at Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson in the Clinical Research Department. The timing was fortunate for me as I arrived in time to register for the company and United Way co-sponsored course “Project Blue Print” to train staff to become Non-profit Board Members. Although I had previous experience, this provided more. Upon completion of the program, I joined my first local non-profit board - the Women’s Health and Counseling Center (WHCC). Eventually I was also asked to represent WHCC by joining The New Jersey Family Planning Board (NJFPB) in 2014. Eventually WHCC merged and became a part of the Zufall Health Center. When WHCC disbanded, I continued to volunteer at Zufall for several more years; and continue to be an at large member of NJFPB.

Following completion of Project Blueprint, I was given the opportunity to take the second offered Leadership Somerset Course. This program afforded me the opportunity to learn how Somerset, NJ runs and more about the non-profit opportunities. 

I was recruited by a previous Board Member of the Tri County Care Management Organization (TCCMO) in 2010, and understanding that its goals were consistent with mine, I accepted the offer to join the board. During my tenure, I served on different teams and committees, including President of the Board; and member of the CMO Advocacy Group, NJ Coalition of CMO Boards, whose initial objective was to secure an increase in our overall funding which was successful.

My retirement in 2012 has afforded me more time to attend and participate in additional TCCMO sponsored activities that have been very rewarding, for example the annual family picnic, and staff meetings led by the Executive Director which include staff recognizing each other for their support and the obvious team support within the organization.

TCCMO was relatively new when I joined, and I have had the pleasure of working with two different Executive Directors and an amazing group of dedicated Board Members. I am proud of its continued growth. My time to say goodbye has come, but I have no doubt that the growth and success that has been made thus far will continue.

Please accept my thanks and continued success to all,
Dorella L. Simpkins, RN, MS

If you would like to become a Board Member, please contact James Parauda at jparauda@tricountycmo.org .
Board Members
Dan Puntillo – Chair
Walter Dudzinski – Vice Chair, Acting Treasurer
Erin Karl – Acting Secretary
Dorella L. Simpkins
Dana Goodman
Tanya Romasz-McDonald
Danielle Zurawiecki
Jennifer Brown
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)


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