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New Grant Helps Non-Profit Address Post-Covid Staffing Needs


Contact: Shawn Flaherty, 703-554-3609

FAIRFAX, Va. (December 6, 2022) — Pathway Homes, a nonprofit providing mental health services—starting with safe, stable housing—to individuals marginalized by poverty and inequity, received a three-year, $412,225 grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) to help expand its mental health staff amid post-Covid staffing shortages to better serve its clients.

“We are grateful to CareFirst for its investment in our community. COVID has exacerbated the mental health needs of some of our clients, while making it more difficult to hire mental health professionals. This grant will help us recruit and train more mental health counselors, and reach more individuals needing our services,” explained Pathway Homes CEO Sylisa Lambert-Woodard. “Like CareFirst, we are committed to health equity and ensuring more people who are struggling can reclaim and rebuild their lives.”

With CareFirst’s grant, Pathway Homes will ensure that 16 credentialed behavioral health professionals will enter the field over the next three years. By deferring the cost of required license supervision, two license-eligible social work or counseling candidates and 14 qualified mental health professional (QMHP) trainees will be able to obtain the required credentials and provide much needed behavioral health services and receive payment for those services. This will also broaden the pool of individuals they can serve as these credentials will enable them to work with more individuals whose health insurance coverage requires these credentials.

“CareFirst recognizes that behavioral health is an essential part of overall health, which includes a continuum of conditions ranging from severe mental health disorders to the emotional, psychological, and social factors that affect a person’s overall wellbeing,” said Dr. Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact, CareFirst. “We are proud to invest in 19 dynamic organizations that will dramatically increase the number of trained health professionals that provide culturally responsive and trauma-informed behavioral health care.”

Prior to the COVID pandemic, the behavioral health field consistently lacked the number of professionals needed. Post-Covid that number has grown exponentially, and “this demand is expected to continue to outpace the capacity of Virginia’s licensed workforce,” according to Virginia Health Foundation 2022 Assessment. Cost is a major contributor. Those graduating with a master’s degree must complete thousands of hours of supervised clinical hours before they are eligible to take a licensure exam—a process that can cost up to $20,000 for counselors and $10,000 for social workers. Through this grant, Pathway Homes will provide the hours of clinical supervision for Virginia pre-licensee and QMHP trainee staff, so they do not incur the expense. This will increase Pathways’ ability to serve its clients while growing the pool of trained professionals.

Pathway Homes works to remove barriers for the underprivileged individuals it serves related to housing, community-based healthcare access, and vocational and job-readiness training to help them become active members of the communities in which they live and work. Access to behavioral health professionals is key to achieving these goals. By increasing its pool of qualified professionals, Pathway Homes will help more clients live better lives by ultimately keeping them out of hospitals, emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, and jail.

For more than 42 years, Pathway Homes has enabled tens of thousands of people in Northern Virginia with serious mental illnesses and other co-occurring disabilities to get housing and supportive services to help them recover their lives. Following the housing first model, Pathway Homes is a partner in preventing and ending homelessness, ensuring 1,578 people in 2022 had access to services and almost 500 permanent supportive housing units.