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USC Telehealth Gets Grant to Expand Services to Families with Special Needs

December 16, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Through a $100,000 grant from Los Angeles-based QueensCare, the USC Telehealth initiative will be able to expand a new program to serve low-income parents and caregivers of special-needs children or adult family members.

USC (University of Southern California) Telehealth is a virtual tele-mental health clinic housed at the USC School of Social Work with services throughout the state of California. This year, USC Telehealth provided 132 families with weekly therapy sessions for caregivers who were experiencing severe depression, anxiety, stress, marital conflict and financial difficulties.

Funding from QueensCare, a public health organization that operates its own healthcare programs providing services directly to Los Angeles residents, will allow an additional 90 families with special needs in Los Angeles County to receive the supportive services they need, according to a USC press release. Special needs can include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), learning difficulties, physical disability, developmental disability or emotional and behavioral difficulties, USC officials said.

The USC Telehealth program aims to fill a critical gap in services by focusing on parents, family members and other caregivers who do not have access to any other mental health programs. “Parents often confront multiple challenges, including caregiving demands, posed not only by their children with special needs, but also their aging grandparents and typical siblings,” Nadia Islam, clinical director for USC Telehealth, said in a statement. “These challenges cut across socioeconomic, geographical and cultural boundaries.”

For QueensCare, the USC Telehealth program fits its philanthropic focus of supporting organizations that extend access to underserved populations. Although QueensCare began funding mental health programs a few years ago, this is the first grant awarded for a telehealth program. “The program will provide access to mental health services for people who need it the most, free of charge,” said Bianca Rodas, communications manager for QueensCare. “The stigma surrounding mental health is still very present, and the opportunity to provide this type of care, in the comfort of one’s home, is an exciting way to work around that.”



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