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Schools changing behavioral health service providers

By Ryan Cornell

Public schools in Shenandoah and Frederick County are transitioning to different providers for therapeutic day services when their contracts with Northwestern Community Services end this summer.

Jeremy Raley, superintendent of Shenandoah County Public Schools, said during a phone call last week that the choice to terminate the contract was a decision made by Northwestern Community Services. He added that he wasn't given any reason or explanation from the agency for the decision.

Following a day of interviews with vendors conducted by a selection committee, Raley signed a memorandum agreement on Tuesday naming National Counseling Group as the division's therapeutic day service provider for the upcoming year.

Clinicians from the National Counseling Group will start working in the schools June 14, one day after the contract with Northwestern Community Service ends.

Paul Scardino, site director for the organization's Winchester and Front Royal offices, said therapeutic day treatment specialists will help students remain in the school system, ease their ability to learn and deal with any clinical issues students might be experiencing in the school setting.

The service is of no charge to the school division, and is a Medicaid-funded program. Because of the source of funding, Scardino said the services will mainly be accessible to eligible students who match a certain criteria such as those having behavioral issues.

He said Warren County Public Schools also have an agreement with National Counseling Group for its therapeutic day services.

"We've been doing this for a long time, around for over 20 years, and we have a lot of experience working with children and behavioral issues in a school setting in over 150 schools in the state," he said.

Raley said the number of specialists will differ depending on student enrollment at each school, and said there will be at least one specialist in each school.

Frederick County Public Schools currently uses Northwestern Community Services for its therapeutic day services, according to Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy and communications for the division.

"However, Northwestern is getting out of that business so we will be using a different organization/vendor for those services next year," he wrote in an email on Tuesday. "We currently have a Request for Proposals out for those services."

A call placed to Northwestern Community Services on Tuesday was not returned.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

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