CAPS has been awarded a grant from the Elkhart County Health Department. The funding will enable CAPS, in partnership with the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families at Notre Dame, to strengthen support for families and children experiencing mental health challenges in Elkhart County. In 2019, Elkhart County’s suicide death rate stood at 16.5 per 100,000 people, far surpassing that of neighboring counties and the state’s average. Suicide rates have more than doubled in Elkhart County with the rate in 2020 being nearly twice that of the state’s average for children. (Elkhart County Health Assessment, 2022).

Rebecca Shetler Fast, CEO of CAPS, expressed gratitude for the funding, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to preventing child abuse and neglect. She highlighted the importance of the partnership with Notre Dame in enhancing the organization’s ability to address mental health issues among the children and families they serve.

Kristin Valentino, Director of the Shaw Center and Notre Dame psychology professor, shared her enthusiasm for the collaboration. She emphasized the center’s dedication to advancing the wellbeing of children and families, and the opportunity to provide essential tools and training to CAPS’ frontline staff.

The grant will fund evidence-based suicide prevention training for CAPS’ staff, focusing on mental wellness, stress management, and self-regulation skills. Shaw Center clinical staff will support the project through clinical consultations and targeted mental health education.

Andrew Bylsma, Health Administrator for the Elkhart County Health Department, reaffirmed the department’s commitment to supporting CAPS’ mission. He expressed optimism about the positive impact of the CAPS-Notre Dame partnership in addressing mental health challenges and reducing suicide rates in the community. Bylsma noted that this program is a crucial step in meeting one of the community’s most pressing health needs, equipping CAPS’ staff with the necessary tools to support families effectively.