Mental Health Program Awarded New Contract for 2014–2017

CalSWEC’s Mental Health Program (MHP) began operating under a new three-year contract from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), effective July 1, 2014, and ending in 2017. The contract, totaling $6.8 million from Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) Workforce Education and Training, includes funding for stipends to be distributed by California schools of social work and for partial operating costs.

Under the new contract:

  • Twenty schools of social work will each award approximately seven one-year stipends to full- or part-time MSW students planning to build careers in behavioral health services and will offer courses and field work that teach recovery-oriented core competencies. 
  • In turn, each MHP graduate will complete a payback obligation through employment in a county-operated or contract nonprofit behavioral health agency.  
  • Schools will work to strengthen their relationships with local behavioral health agencies and regional partnerships through field work placements, engagement of behavioral health agency representatives on stipend selection committees, and outreach to agencies in counties that traditionally have not had MHP stipend recipients as interns or employees. 

The newly executed contract replaces the 2008–2014 contract that expired on June 30. Under that contract, MHP partner schools distributed nearly 1,700 stipends to ethnically diverse recipients (53% were from minority groups) including a majority (56%) who spoke at least one other language besides English. 

Program Significantly Downsized
The new contract necessitates significant downsizing of the MHP program because of the reduction in stipends, from 196 to 138 annually, and 73% reduction in program funding, according to MHP Director Gwen Foster.

“Although every school must significantly change its program in light of the available funding, the CalSWEC Board of Directors, including all the member schools, adhered to the best principles of collaboration by choosing a model that gives each school the same number of stipends and the same amount of program funding each year,” said Ms. Foster. “We expect to continue to reduce behavioral health MSW workforce shortages by preparing diverse, well-trained professionals committed to building careers in this field.”