Wayne County Park Street Complex
648 Park St.
Honesdale, PA. 18431
Phone: (570) 253-9200 or 1-866-558-0735
Fax: (570) 647-0268
Margaret Ennis, Administrator
Cindy Matthews, Intellectual Disabilities & Early Intervention Program Director
Michelle Valinski, Behavioral Health Program Director
Programs, Training Mark Mental Health Awareness Month
HONESDALE – Recognizing mental health as a key component of everyone’s overall physical health and emotional well-being, the Wayne County Commissioners marked Mental Health Awareness month with a proclamation.
Director of Behavioral Programs Michelle Valinski was joined by members of the Case Management and Psychological Rehabilitation staff and representatives of the county’s System of Care, a philosophy of engaging youth and their families in helping improve the delivery of child services at every level.
Valinski noted the agency has a series of events planned to promote understanding and tolerance in the systems and the community, including a one-day training on May 11 designed to make organizations more welcoming and affirming to the LGBTQI community.
On May 16, a QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper training program, which focuses on giving people the skills to identify and intervene during a mental health crisis, will be held at the Cafeteria in the Park Street Complex in Honesdale from 2 to 3:30 and again from 6 to 7:30 pm. Valinksi said the program will teach people how to ask if someone is contemplating suicide and then how to respond to the answer they get.
The teen experience comes into focus when author Karen Fortunati spends the day on May 24 talking about her book “Weight of Zero,” which chronicles a teenager’s struggle with bi-polar disorder, hope and recovery.
Valinski said Fortunati will be featured at a luncheon and discussion at the Park Street Cafeteria followed by visits to the high school partial hospitalization program at Wallenpaupack and the Intensive Out-Patient program, ending with a dinner and discussion at the County’s Psych Rehab Drop-In Center at 910 Church Street, which will be open to consumers and their families.
The events wrap up with the second annual Open Mic Night for Suicide Prevention at The Cooperage, 1030 Main Street in Honesdale, on May 31 from 7 to 9 pm.
System of Care Coordinator Ernie Laskosky, as well as the Family Tri-Chair representative Faith Phillips and Youth Tri-Chair representative Sydney Perrera, discussed the new philosophical approach of System of Care, which is youth guided and family driven, giving voice to youth and families to help transform the system.
It involves child serving systems, schools, physicians and others to create a trauma informed approach. Laskosky said System of Care is about changing our approach from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What’s happened to you?”
According to the Commissioners proclamation, one in four adults and one in five children experience mental health challenges in each given year.
PA Launches Tax-Free Savings Plan for Those w/Disabilities
HARRISBURG – Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20th) joined Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) to officially launch the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE program, a landmark tax-free state savings account to help alleviate some of the financial challenges faced by families raising or caring for those with disabilities.
During remarks made Monday, Baker noted the importance of the program for a family’s financial health and well-being.
“The ABLE program reflects sensible and solid change. Initiative and family responsibility are rewarded. The door opens for individuals to take steps to increase their ability to function and contribute. When families can set aside funds for a better safety net, worry diminishes. No longer will so many families be forced to make an impossible choice between services and savings,” she said.
Sen. Casey led the effort at the federal level, and Baker worked with disability advocates from throughout the state to bring the program to Pennsylvania. Administered by the state treasury, ABLE accounts:
- Provide people with disabilities with a way to be more financially independent.
- Save on taxes; accounts grow tax-free and, when used for qualified disability expenses, are tax exempt.
- Protect eligibility for means-tested federal benefits and state disability, medical assistance, health, and student aid benefits.
- May be used to pay for a wide range of disability expenses including basic living, housing, education, health, legal, transportation, and more.
- Allow others to give funds to the eligible individual without the gift impacting benefits.
Praising those that helped to ensure families have a way to plan for the lifetime support needs of individuals with physical or intellectual limitations, Baker said, “The people deserving commendation are the families, the groups, and the individuals who engaged in the advocacy and education efforts…your caring and commitment truly made the difference.”
To learn more or to enroll, go to: http://www.paable.gov/