The Foundation for Seacoast Health (FFSH) has awarded $25,000 to The Chase Home in support of its Seacoast Community Diversion Program (SCDP). Founded in 2016, SCDP is a court-mandated program that works with kids, ages 11 – 17, who have begun to struggle in the community. “The program seeks to ‘divert’ these youth from delinquent behaviors that will likely worsen without clinical, therapeutic and restorative interventions,” said Meme Wheeler, executive director of The Chase Home.
Founded in 1877, The Chase Home in Portsmouth serves at-risk youth annually through prevention, early intervention, residential and community-based programs. Some youth are served in the community while others live at The Chase Home. In referencing FFSH’s support, Wheeler said it enables the program to maintain its current level of services in “still challenging times.”
“Last year was very difficult for our kids and staff, as we primarily worked through virtual means to provide the same level of support,” she said. “Major funding like this is crucial, because we are now working to return to in-person services. Changes in the service delivery model can be difficult, especially for kids and families in active crisis.”
According to Debra Grabowski, The Chase Home was viewed by their grants committee as “a well-run, responsible nonprofit serving Seacoast youth.” “They are known to be a good partner and to make effective use of grant funds,” she explained. “The Seacoast Community Diversion Program specifically employs a proactive, creative approach to help youth and their families build resiliency skills and, in some cases, avoid formal punishment structures.”
In helping youth avoid traditional punishment for various (nonviolent) crimes, Wheeler said SCDP shifts the focus to building skills and character within a framework of accountability. “The program is also unique because it features embedded suicide screening and prevention services,” she said. “We have access to a licensed drug and alcohol counselor for complete assessments…The program serves as a hub or a matrix for a variety of services.”
In addition to FFSH, the program is supported by the State of NH, NH Juvenile Court Diversion Network and Kennebunk Savings. Initial seed funding from Exeter Hospital helped launch the program. “This is a community-based program with community input from all sides,” explained Wheeler. “We cannot thank the Foundation for Seacoast Health enough for this award, which will impact our program and local communities well into next fiscal year.”
As for FFSH’s next steps, Grabowski said its Board of Trustees has approved three strategic grant categories in 2021-2023. They include increased access to mental health services, reduction of youth and adult suicide, and improved community based services for older adults. “The Diversion program clearly overlaps two of our grant priorities,” she said. “We are pleased to provide funding to support this valued and effective program.”
To learn more about the Foundation for Seacoast Health, click here.
To learn more about SCDP, click here.