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Contact Info:

Family Lead:
Heidi Rochon
The Maryland Coalition of Families
for Children's Mental Health

Eastern Shore Youth Coordinator/Youth MOVE:
Jason Argoe
The Maryland Coalition of Families
for Children's Mental Health

Rural CARES Project Director:
Candy Edwards
The Institute for Innovation & Implementation

State/Federal Liaison:
Denise Sulzbach
Director, Policy and Strategic Development


Eastern Shore children, youth and families will achieve wellness, relying on their
strengths, and being rooted in their communities.


Through Coordination, Advocacy, Resource Development, Education and Support,
Rural CARES will promote wellness, strong families and effective, coordinated care for all Eastern Shore children, youth and families in safe and culturally competent environments.
We recognize that those with unique needs may require specialized team planning.


In all our efforts, we will fully embrace systems of care values:

  • Family Driven
  • Youth-Guided
  • Culturally and Linguistically Competent
  • Individualized and Strengths-Based
  • Coordinated Services and Supports
  • Data-Driven Decision Making


Improve life outcomes for children and youth with serious emotional and behavioral challenges who are in foster care or at risk of entering foster care at the congregate level of care.

  • Keep children in their home communities
  • Prevent out-of-home placement or disruption
  • Implement family-driven and youth-guided practice
  • Increase cultural and linguistic competency and address disparity and disproportionality
  • Expand community-based services, including tele-mental health, crisis response and stabilization, and evidence-based practices
  • Utilize Care Management Entity approach
  • Redirect dollars from costly placements to community-based resources
  • Develop cross-agency fiscal and policy approaches

In September 2009, Talbot County, on behalf of the Counties of Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester, was awarded a Children's Mental Health Initiative (CMHI) grant, totaling nearly nine million dollars, from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). This six-year project, Rural CARES (Coordination, Advocacy, Resources, Education and Support) seeks to improve mental health outcomes for children, youth, and families served by, or at risk of entering, the foster care system at the congregate level of care. Over the first three years of the grant, Rural CARES has expanded and adapted the urban foster care model developed under a 2008 CMHI grant award from SAMHSA/CMHS in Baltimore City, titled MD CARES, to meet the unique needs of our rural communities. Maryland's Eastern Shore faces cultural and geographic challenges common in rural jurisdictions including poverty, isolated communities, inadequate access to care, and significant stigma associated with mental health care. While the region served under the grant covers 34% of the State's land mass, one-third of our youth in foster care were placed outside of the region in 2008 due to lack of available community resources. Rural CARES gives us the capacity to keep these children in their home communities. The service focus is care coordination for youth aged 10-21, at the point of initial diagnosis of serious emotional disturbance, in order to prevent out-of-home placement. Rural CARES currently serves up to 60 youth at a time for an average of 15 months, with a projected total of 300 youth throughout the project. Rural CARES is designed to have a much broader statewide impact. The goal of statewide capacity building will be reached in partnership with Maryland's youth and families. In 2007, Maryland was the first state to create a chapter of Youth Motivating Others through Voices of Experience (MOVE). Through Rural CARES, Youth MOVE on the Eastern Shore continues to develop, empowering new leadership to grow up within our System of Care and ensure our success. Also, through Maryland's state-funded training, technical assistance and evidence-based practice center established through an innovative partnership between Maryland Coalition of Families for Children's Mental Health, a statewide family network, and the University of Maryland, family and youth-driven practice are the cornerstone of Rural CARES. To most effectively leverage systems, Rural CARES incorporates state funded strategies which include: crisis response and stabilization; family navigation; and cross-agency fiscal and policy analysis.

Data Profile Reports

Additional Resources