As part of the Sept. 18 Blythe Homeless Outreach Committee (HOC) meeting, Riverside County University Health System – Behavioral Health’s (RUHS-BH Blythe) Dr. Andrea Perez provided an update on the ongoing services partnership with the Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD).

Currently, a signed MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) is in place for the county’s local behavioral health professionals to provide services to PVUSD students across Palo Verde High School (PVHS) and all four of the Blythe’s elementary schools.

“We’ve gotten, so far I think, 13 referrals from the (high) school, which is awesome seeing that we just started taking referrals last week,” stated Perez, noting an additional eight incoming from Twin Palms High School (TPHS).

Early intervention services presently provided at PVHS include prevention, which encompass the K-8 sites as well. Further, a substance abuse treatment program is currently in the works for the TPHS continuation school.

“In the K-8, it’s going to be therapy services, so we’re getting referrals there. And we’re also getting referrals to Wraparound services as well,” noted Perez.

As a family-centered county placement program, Wraparound provides professionals (e.g. clinical therapists, behavioral health specialists, parent partners) to work with struggling homes toward ensuring the respective units’ goals and addressing their needs.

“I get all of the referrals and then I have a consultation with the Wraparound supervisor. So, between her and I, we then decide where to start. We might start at Wraparound because it’s so severe, or we might start with outpatient services,” said Perez.

Notably, some of the encompassing services are being provided at school sites directly – and not the RUHS-BH building – in part to provide readily available access as well as ward off any perceived stigma in going to the clinic itself.

Two county therapists have been assigned to be in all of the schools, two days a week, starting this week – one for K-8, and the other for the high schools.

“We have high hopes that it’s going to take off and we can hopefully hire and continue to facilitate (help),” said Perez. “Blythe is a little tricky with groups because, when you try to process groups in a small community – it’s not necessarily safe. So, if someone shares something, you don’t really want people who know you to know all your stuff. So, we haven’t found that to work yet – a lot of our consumers don’t want to do that. But in an educational group, it’s usually not so bad because they’re getting the information (but) not necessarily sharing a lot of vulnerable information. So we’re going to give it a go and see where we go with that. We’re at the early phases (and) we’re going to keep growing, if we can.”

Perez would note programs also provided – through the county’s Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) MOU with the district – include Friday Night Live (FNL) for kids, as well as the incoming Club Life.

“The schools (are) actually going to go through a training with the county to be able to be the advisors for that program,” noted Perez. “(Club Life) is through substance abuse (department); it’s really (about) getting (the kids) involved with their communities. They start a community project, that they do, with their advisor. I don’t know all the ins and outs of it because that’s never been a program we’ve had, at the (Blythe) clinic, so. The fact that it’s going to be at the schools is going to be amazing.”

Parents may to contact the local RUHS-BH office for any questions, inquiries or student referrals by calling (760) 921-5000.

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