CarePlus InsideLIne
March 2017 - "If you do not sow in the spring you will not reap in the autumn." 
Bergen County First to End Chronic Homelessness

A Message of Gratitude from Kris Pendy, Senior Vice President

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that Bergen County, NJ, is the first Continuum of Care to be certified for ending Chronic Homelessness for our consumers. It is an honor and privilege for CarePlus to be partnered with the County of Bergen, the Housing Authority of Bergen County, the Housing Health & Human Services Center and Christ Church Community Development Corporation on this historic feat.
There are so many people to acknowledge, but first we must celebrate the accomplishment and courage of those we serve. To each client that has touched our lives and allowed us to walk with them through their journey to housing, we say Thank You!!!

Our staff has also been integral to this success. If not for our staff that served on these teams, the journey would be different and, maybe, not so successful to lead to permanent housing.
James Nono, your leadership and commitment has made this program at the Housing, Health and Human Services possible. Your tireless efforts, long nights, relationships and commitment to excellence has been a role model for your staff and our partners. You and your staff have been nicknamed the "A Team"- especially because of your willingness to work on tough cases that no one else would take on. Your team has been part of the partnership that has made a difference in people's lives. You and your team should be proud to share in this accomplishment. But you are not alone! To Sean Sundberg, Larry Allotta and your teams who have worked with our most vulnerable consumers from hospitalization to shelter: thank you for your efforts to end chronic homelessness.

To our leadership team, thank you for supporting us!! Thank you Joe Masciandaro for your vision and leadership. Thank you for supporting ideas and programming outside of the box and allowing all of us to grow and become the amazing leaders that each of you are today. And THANK YOU, Shelby Klein!! The sleepless nights, the writing, reading and budget numbers. Thank you for your ability to take our ideas and put them to paper and mold those ideas into our services. Sometimes I wonder what we wrote when we win a grant. We would not have the depth of services without your grant writing skills, leadership and vision!
I am so proud of all of you and our staff, but I am even more honored to know that we played a role in putting a roof over someone's head and that they are safe!
Assembly Budget Committee Hearing
Ongoing Advocacy for the Community Mental Health System

"The crowd is a little larger than we expected here today..."

We filled the Assembly Budget Committee Hearing with Stigma-Free Green on March 29th, and were so proud to see strong representation from our staff, our community partners, and those that we serve.

We thank Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco and his team for their insightful testimonies and powerful presentation, and for being an integral support for our community mental health system. The Assembly expressed kudos for all of the work our Bergen County officials and professionals are doing, specifically addressing the incredible accomplishment of being the first community in the nation to end chronic homelessness. County Executive Tedesco was sure to note that the recent accomplishment would not have been possible without the   comprehensive comm unity mental health system.
Our solidarity was felt, our message was heard and we were left with these words from Assemblyman Schaer: "We give you all the kudos, and we will try to find $6 million."

Thank you for all those advocating! We are making tremendous waves... but we must remember, this is a STATEWIDE issue. Keep up the fight for what is right!

Read More In the Daily News 
2017 NJAMHAA Advocacy Leadership Team

Our President and CEO Joe Masciandaro was honored with the "Advocacy Leadership Team" award at the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA) Annual Conference. Thank you for your compassionate care and leadership, Joe!

"While I get a lot of credit for starting the Stigma Free Zone initiative in Bergen County, it was Joe who put the bee in my bonnet and provided all the critical support to make it successful. We can't thank him enough. Joe also spearheaded the fight against these budget cuts. He is passionate about advocacy and I think it goes back to the culture he created at CarePlus where 'clients' aren't 'clients' but members of the CarePlus family... and we all know how an Italian papa will fight for his family! Congratulations Joe!"

- Mary Ann Uzzi, CarePlus Foundation Vice-Chair, Paramus Stigma-Free Leader 
Please Join Us in Celebration
Staff Discount & Volunteer Opportunities

The CarePlus Foundation will hold its 19th Annual Courage Awards Gala on May 10, 2017 at the Venetian in Garfield, benefiting the clients and programs of CarePlus NJ. This year's Courage Award recipients include law enforcement, legislators and celebrity guests.

The Gala celebrates those who tirelessly advocate on behalf of the mental health community. Proceeds fund educational scholarships, housing and medication assistance, substance abuse services, outpatient treatment and therapy for children and adults who are enrolled in CarePlus services, as well as advocacy and community education.

"The future of our community-based mental health system is at a critical point," stated Joe Masciandaro, CEO/President at CarePlus. "We are working tirelessly as a community to lead, and establish the connections necessary to continue providing the most comprehensive care and effective services. The spectrum of honorees this year demonstrates this focus on community."

This year's honorees include:
  • Carmen Carrera for her fearless leadership in LGBTQ advocacy
  • Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal for taking action to #StopTheODs in Bergen County
  • Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D37) for her legislative motion to establish thorough oversight of the funding transition for the community mental health system
  • Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R39) for her voice and support of the advocacy efforts regarding the funding transition for the community mental health system
  • Police Officer Juan Guzman accepting on behalf of the Port Authority Police Department for their role in suicide prevention on the George Washington Bridge and involvement with the Crisis Intervention Team.
"The Gala demonstrates how immersed CarePlus is in the community, and the celebratory success stories emphasize the power of the work we do," Masciandaro continued. "People leave with an understanding of what the human spirit is capable of, and how we support that spirit with genuine care and compassion."

Registration includes a cocktail hour, dinner, live and silent auctions, and a 50/50 raffle.

We are still looking for responsible volunteers to help out with registration, the silent auction and 50/50 sales - please contact the Foundation Office if you are interested by emailing
Upcoming Trainings
HIPAA and Confidentiality with Youth
2 Ethics CEHs for Social Workers 
2 NBCC Hours for Counselors
April 6 - 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Register Here

Play Therapy With Children & Families
4 Clinical CEHs for Social Workers
4 NBCC Hours for Counselors 
May 4 - 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
  Register Here

Immigration, Acculturation
and Mental Health Challenges
2 Clinical CEHs for Social Workers 
June 1 @ 9:00 am - 1:30 pm
Register Here
Staff Wellness
Triaxial Yoga with Caitlyn 
Thursday April 13th & 27th
(Time TBD based on interest) 
Learn more about the energetic body and how to utilize acupressure points to optimize your health and wellness.

This will include a physical yoga practice - please bring a mat and dress accordingly!

We will meet in the Conference Room.
Training is Free of Charge.

If you haven't already, please RSVP to Caitlyn if you are interested in similar opportunities.


Have you had the chance to check out the myStrength website to learn more about the resources we have access to as CarePlus employees?

Now you can use web and mobile tools 
to stay mentally strong, and share those tools to benefit the individuals that you work with!

If you are already using this online resource, or if you want more information on how to start a professional and personal account , please contact Caitlyn
Carmen Carrera visits CarePlus

We are so grateful that Carmen Carrera took the time to visit CarePlus to celebrate the five year anniversary of ALLIES!

Carmen inspired the youth involved in the group by openly sharing her experiences and advocacy work. She was eager to learn how she can use her voice to address their concerns, and was happy to stay afterwards for questions, photos and hugs.

What a privilege to be able to honor Carmen at the Courage Awards Gala this year!  
Employee Assistance Program

Did you know that you have access to resources pertaining to everyday life right at your fingertips? With this Employee Assistance Program, you have access to information and resources for family, health, money and much more.   
Be sure to explore the website: 
Login: CPNJ
Password: 123  
Webinar of the Month - 4/18/17 
"Compassion Fatigue: Increasing Resiliency"
Available On Demand
Starting 12pm Eastern Time 

"It's not negative thoughts themselves that are the issue; rather, it's when we believe those negative thoughts. Learn how to gain control over negative thoughts and turn them into positive ones."

If you have any questions, please contact Susan Bell in the Human Resources Department.

CSC at CarePlus Accepting Referrals for First Break Psychosis

CarePlus is proud to announce the launch of the first program in the Northern New Jersey Region for early psychosis intervention. CarePlus has been awarded a grant from the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) for the new program, Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC), along with two other providers in the Central and Southern Regions of New Jersey.

CSC Services is a federally funded demonstration project that provides early intervention services to individuals experiencing the signs and symptoms of psychosis for the first time. The program will serve individuals who are between the ages of 15-35, have recently been experiencing unusual thoughts and behaviors or have started hearing/seeing things that others do not, typically interfering with work, school, or relationships. The onset of symptoms may occur from one week to two years prior to making a referral.

Studies show that approximately 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the United States experience the initial signs and symptoms of psychosis each year, with the peak onset occurring between 15-25 years of age. Clinical trials have shown that early intervention services for psychosis utilizing the CSC approach can reduce symptoms and restore adaptive functioning in a manner superior to standard care.

"The transition from adolescence to adulthood can be a stressful time for many young people faced with significant physical or emotional life changes," stated Melissa Sampath, Clinical Manager for CSC at CarePlus. "When someone experiences the first signs and symptoms of psychosis, they don't always understand what is happening to them. They may often feel or become further isolated, and usually don't know where to look for help."

CSC is an early intervention program, which includes a team-based and recovery-oriented approach, shared decision making, evidence-based practices and collaborative treatment planning. The CSC multi-disciplinary team includes a Clinical Manger, an Outreach and Referral Specialist, a Recovery Coach, a Supported Employment and Educational Specialist, a Prescriber, and a Peer Recovery Specialist. The program offers a full spectrum of services including low doses of atypical antipsychotic medications, cognitive and behavioral psychotherapy, family education and peer support, educational and vocational rehabilitation, as well as outreach and case management for youth, young adults, and their families.

"Our goal is to change the trajectory of the illness through timely treatment for the early onset of symptoms," Sampath explained. "We want to help these individuals identify their personal strengths and decrease the severity of their symptoms so that they can continue to pursue their occupational, educational and social goals." With a specialized, multidisciplinary team approach to care, we are confident that we can help individuals recover from the traumatic experience of psychosis."

The CSC Team will build partnerships with colleges and universities, high schools, hospitals and emergency rooms, psychiatric screening centers, the children's system of care, intensive family support services and veteran's organizations in the efforts of building community awareness and identifying appropriate referrals for the program.

Referrals are now being accepted for the Northern NJ Region, including Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren Counties. The remaining NJ county residents can be referred to Rutgers University of Behavioral Health Care for the Central NJ region and Oaks Integrated Care for the Southern NJ Region.

The CSC office is located at 611 Route 46 West, Suite 100, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, 07604. Please call 201-986-5010 more information or to make a referral. 

Best of Luck and Big Thanks to the Team:

Melissa Sampath LAC
Clinical Manager
Joseph Meany, LCSW
Recovery Coach
Anna Rhodes-Marchese, LSW
Outreach and Referral Specialist
Thurmond Gillis Jr., BA
Supported Employment and Education Specialist 
Joel Romeo, BA
Peer Recovery Specialist

State Funding Transition:
Advocacy Action Steps

1. Write Letters & Make Phone Calls
You can use the following link to find your legislators. Simply enter your hometown and you will get all of the information you need:
Please note: some letters will be more detailed than others, but short and simple contributions are important as well.
2. Story Telling Campaign
Part of our advocacy campaign is to collect written or video testimonials by clients, family, and staff. This campaign is expected to grow into a larger, more powerful storytelling campaign that will launch through a "Humans of CarePlus" Instagram account.
We need your help: if you are a staff member that would be willing to participate, or if you have a client that has a story to tell, please contact Caitlyn .
We will be able to work with people who would like to remain anonymous, and think that this will be a very engaging way to increase our culture of community and compassion.

3. Get Educated & Stay Up To Date

There is a Facebook page dedicated to these advocacy efforts. Created as a public group, this will be the forum for people to use with social media. This page will share resources for you to stay involved. Please "like" the page to stay up to date: Fund Mental Health In NJ 2017

Connect with CarePlus on Social Media!

Facebook         Twitter          LinkedIn
Program Marketing 
It is important for staff to familiarize themselves with the variety of program and services offered through CarePlus so that we can make appropriate referrals for those in need. For that reason, we are working on streamlining information and materials so that they are more easily accessible.

This involves appropriately updated Program Fact Sheets, comprehensive marketing folders, social media spotlights, and up to date information on the CarePlus website.

A new folder has been added to the S Drive so that staff can quickly access Program Information Sheets. These Fact Sheets can be found in the first folder in All Staff titled _FactSheets.  

If you need any materials created, revised, or printed for your program or presentations you will need to utilize the electronic request form. This new system is being used to ensure timely and effective completion of projects.   


You may have noticed recent Facebook posts highlighting some of our services. This is the part of our effort to market each of our programs to the community.


If you would like to put your team, group or program in the spotlight, contact the ACE team to make arrangements.


You can also send positive reviews and feedback for coworkers who go above and beyond. If you have anything you would like to submit for the InsideLine, email your story and information to Caitlyn Yerves.

Do YOU have a story to share? If you have a story, update, announcement, or photos to share on the InsideLine, on Facebook, or on the website, send it to the ACE team and we will work to get it out to staff and friends of CarePlus.

Obligatory disclaimer ("the gray area"): This newsletter is compiled by humans, and you know how humans are: we make occasional mistakes - not too many, but they do happen. Please do not consider a rush in judgment. We - "the humans" - apologize in advance for any omissions, inaccuracies, misspellings, and flagrant discombobulations. Should you desire to suggest a correction or addition, please email Caitlyn.

You can even just email if you'd like to say you do (or do not) like the Inside Line, however no cursing or inflammatory remarks, please, as we are humans.