Lancaster County youth ages 14-21 in foster care are one of the most vulnerable populations. These teens and young adults have endured the trauma of abuse and neglect, and the subsequent trauma of being removed from their homes. In fact, many of these children have been in the foster care system for years, suffering secondary trauma of multiple placements and prolonged uncertainty.  As a result, these youth often require comprehensive behavioral healthcare.

An LOHF grant will provide 45 of these youth with trained advocates through a $15,000 grant to CASA of Lancaster County (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children). The volunteers will foster futures for these teens through mentorship, court advocacy, orchestrated collaborative efforts with community partners, and consistency.

This is one of four Children’s Behavioral Health Grants recently awarded by LOHF to organizations enhancing the mental well-being of youth and children in Lancaster County.

“These programs are reaching families and their children whose access to mental health support is particularly challenging, yet urgently needed,” LOHF Executive Director Anna Kennedy said.

Grants were awarded as follows:

  • Advoz was granted $18,500 for its program Stand in Justice: Surrogate Victim-Offender Dialogue for Youth. This program helps 12-18 year-olds in the juvenile justice system to develop empathy.
  • Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 was granted $13,800 for its program, Envision U Symposium. This program helps high-risk youth transitioning to adulthood.
  • CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health was granted $10,000 for its program Take Your Time: A Universal Mindful Education Series for Elementary Students, Teachers & Families
  • CASA of Lancaster County was granted $15,000 for its program Comprehensive Advocacy for Older Youth, and to train volunteers to advocate for youth ages 18-21.

Grants Info Session: June 4

An additional $42,300 in Children’s Behavioral Health Grants will be available this fall. Tax exempt community benefit organizations serving Lancaster County are eligible to apply.

Those interested are encouraged to attend an information session that will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, at the S. Dale High Leadership Center, 1861 William Penn Way, Lancaster.

RSVPs are requested here, or by contacting LOHF Communication Director Jeannette Scott at (717) 397-8722, or

To learn more about LOHF Children’s Behavioral Health Grants, please visit

Now Accepting Nurse Scholarship Applications
Each year nursing scholarships are awarded to students beginning their nursing education, those pursuing an LPN, RN, BSN, MSN, or other advanced degree, and nurses pursuing professional certifications, such as School Nurse Certificate. Our awards are based on financial need, passion for the nursing profession, proven ability to work hard, and passion for youth and children’s behavioral health. Applications must be completed online by May 15.

For more details and a link to our application, visit our scholarships page. You can also download a flyer to spread the word.

By Anna Kennedy, LOHF Executive Director

It’s going to be a happy new year at LOHF, and for the community we serve. We’ve spent the past year making sure of that. Professionally, and personally, our leaders spent the past year taking a deep dive into our mission, values, and goals. And we’re starting off 2019 energized by the clarity and focus of our new strategic plan.   

LOHF elevates the mental wellbeing of youth and children in Lancaster County. We do this impartially, making data-informed decisions that support solutions within and across systems and improve access to services. We invest in behavioral health supports for children in our Lancaster County communities, because every child deserves mental well-being.

In 2019, our work will be guided by two big questions:

  • How will we become more sharply focused on building the talent pipeline in behavioral health to elevate mental well-being of youth and children in Lancaster County?
  • How will we improve access to behavioral health?

We will remain faithful to our core values.

We value caring.

We value collaboration.

We value a whole-person approach.

We value advocacy.

We value visibility.

These questions are our filter for discerning how we elevate mental well-being for youth and children, including grants, training, and collaborations:

  • To what degree will children’s behavioral health be enhanced by this?
  • To what degree will this fill an existing gap in services?
  • How viable is this in terms of staff capacity?
  • How much impact can we have based on our available resources?
  • How much of a positive return on investment will there be for Lancaster County?
  • To what degree does it align with our values?
  • How well will we be able to measure the success of this initiative?
  • To what degree does this utilize data-driven best practices?

Happy New Year. It’s going to be a great one for our kids!


We are grateful for more than 40 committee and board volunteers whose guidance makes it possible to enhance the mental well-being of youth and children in Lancaster County. As we begin 2019,these are the transitions for the LOHF board.

Welcome our new treasurer

Sean Post, CPA, Senior Accountant, Trout, Ebersole & Groff, LLP

Sean also serves on our Audit Committee, and our Finance and Investment Committee. As a Senior Accountant at Trout, Ebersole & Groff, LLP, Sean handles all aspects of audit, attest services, and financial statement preparation. Sean serves on the firm’s Government, Employee Benefit Plan, and Forensic Accounting Practice Groups. He holds a bachelor of science in accounting degree from Elizabethtown College.Sean is a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants,Treasurer of the L.G. Cook 4-H Campfire Counsel, and member of Leadership Lancaster’s Core Class of 2017. In his spare time, Sean enjoys recreational sports with friends.

Welcome our new board members

Arthur Ace, Business Development Officer, PNC Wealth Management

Arthur also serves on our Finance & Investment Committee. As a Client Advisor with PNC Wealth Management, he has a recognized history of working in the financial services industry. Leveraging strong analytical, consulting and relationship management capabilities to assist clients in the areas of investment and asset management, succession strategies, estate planning, and administration. Arthur is a member of the Lancaster County Estate Planning Council and Civil Air Patrol. He graduated with a degree in Finance from Spalding University in Louisville, KY. Arthur is fluent in Russian and Ukrainian. He is engaged to Rachel. Together, they enjoy their Yorkie, Kingston.

Kimberly Fletcher, PHR, SHRM-CP, Chief Personnel Officer, Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County

Kimberly has a 20-year tenure in human resources development, including strategic management, recruitment, employee relations, training, on-boarding, benefits administration, professional development administration, and special events coordination.  Her experiences include working with people from diverse economic, academic, and cultural backgrounds. Kimberly’s broad career as a human resource professional has been enriched through experience in childcare, secondary education, and college administration. She is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College.

Carrie Lee Smith, PhD, Associate Professor of Sociology, Millersville University

As associate professor of sociology, Carrie studies sex and gender, medical sociology, sociology of reproduction and birth, work and the profession, sociology of the family, religion, race and ethnicity, qualitative methods, scholarship of teaching and learning, and community-based research. Since 2014, she has served as a Faculty Research Fellow at the Center for Public Scholarship and Social Change at Millersville University. Carrie also serves on the boards of the Edward Hand Medical Museum,and Ambassadors for Hope. She earned her PhD in Sociology from Vanderbilt University.

Angela M. Trout, JD, Development Director, Conestoga Valley Christian Community Services

Angela has an extensive career in journalism, and nonprofit organizations. As a parent advocate, she brings a passion for children’s mental health. Angela is responsible for securing private and foundation funding, and food and clothing donations, for Conestoga Valley Christian Community Services. The organization serves neighbors experiencing poverty. Angela previously led marketing and communications for the YWCA Lancaster. She is a graduate of Massachusetts School of Law (North Andover, Mass.) and Wilmington University.

Many thanks to our outgoing board members

Terry Sweigart, Treasurer

Terry will continue to volunteer for LOHF on our Audit Committee, and our Finance & Investment Committee. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Temple University. He recently retired from his role as Business Manager for Lampeter-Strasburg School District. Terry served as President of the Lancaster-Lebanon School Insurance Program for Property and Casualty Insurance. He has also served on the boards of Employee’s Health Care Cooperative, Lancaster County Tax Collection Bureau and Lancaster-Lebanon Joint Authority.

Carrie Bruey, PsyD, BCBA

Carrie is the supervisor of Lancaster-Lebanon IU-13 Autism Solutions, and Supervisor of School Psychologists. She chaired our Child Health and Wellness Committee, and will continue to volunteer on that committee. She is a licensed psychologist, certified school psychologist, and board certified behavior analyst with more than 30 years of experience working with children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, their families and provider agencies. She has published various chapters and books relevant to diagnosing and supporting individuals on the autism spectrum.

LOHF hosted a small group of local experts for discussion on how emotional trauma affects physical health. We
viewed the TEDx MED talk given by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime.

Children who experience adversity and trauma have an increased risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and even some cancers. That’s why professionals in healthcare, social services, and education are re-evaluating the way we respond to childhood adversity. They are discovering that the consistent presence of at least one supportive adult in a child’s life can counteract trauma, preventing these health problems.

LOHF hosted a small group of local experts for discussion on how emotional trauma affects physical health. We viewed the TEDx MED talk given by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime.

In the small group, each shared professional experiences with this topic. The discussion recognized the current limitations of professionals working in industry silos. The importance of providers asking students and families to sign releases was also punctuated as a first step to improve collaboration and patient care.

The trauma-informed care movement has traction here

From this meaningful discussion, and similar ones with our grantee cohorts, we’ve discovered many share this hope for Lancaster County to become a trauma-informed community. And they are making strides to do it.

  • Warwick School District hosts weekly student services meetings between a social worker, Intermediate Unit, guidance counselors, principal, and school nurses. This is a forum for staff to present concerns about a teen. The group can suggest appropriate interventions if necessary. Using ACEs as a commonly understood term allows a member of this multidisciplinary team to indicate concern for a teen without the need to describe adversity or trauma in detail.
  • Police officers are getting training on trauma, through a grant from LOHF to Community Action Partnership and the RMO.
  • Behavioral health providers at Community Services Group are talking with school nurses, and scout leaders about how to positively impact children who may have experienced adversity or trauma.
  • Providers of Family-Based Mental Health Services for children and adolescents at risk of hospitalization or our-of-home services now have training in trauma-informed care.
  • Specific certifications for providers are emerging, such as Trauma-Focused CBT.
  • Millersville University are embedding trauma-informed training in their Social Work degree programs.
  • School nurses are teaching youth and children about the scientific causes of depression and anxiety, and how to navigate the symptoms if they experience them.
  • Lancaster Theological Seminary is educating clergy about trauma and ACEs.
  • More therapists, counselors, and primary care providers are learning how to ask the ACE questions in one-on-one conversations in the context of their trusted relationships with their clients and patients.
  • Millersville University and Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences have added courses addressing stereotypes, bias, and culture. (ACEs can often be a result of repeated exposure to these throughout childhood and adolescence.)
  • Millersville University has also begun training faculty to be champions for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in order to shift culture and change systems.
  • Prison staff, probation officers, and parole agents including probation, parole officers are receiving ACEs training through the Re-entry Management Organization.
  • Community Action Partnership has trained more than 1,500 adults in Trauma 101, across many sectors of Lancaster County.

Building on our momentum

Group input included the following as important next steps toward Lancaster County becoming a trauma-informed community, and reversing the effects of ACEs on our youth and children.

  • Coordinated effort to train early childhood educators, and parents of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, about ACEs.
  • Educate clergy through groups that already meet regularly.
  • Education about how our biases guide our thinking and influence our decisions, and how this relates to ACEs.
  • Teaching foster parents about ACEs.
  • Small groups at churches can view the TEDx MED talk given by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime.  
  • Embed ACEs education within curricula for nursing and education careers. Use social work curricula as a model.
  • When K-12 education focused on standardized testing, social-emotional curricula was lost, and we need to shift back to it.
  • Using ACEs language in classrooms teaches kids how to give names to their feelings, and understand the science behind symptoms.
  • Train/retrain Children & Youth Agency about ACEs (including Youth Intervention Center staff)
  • Improve coordination between placements and schools. Create placements within school buildings to minimize trauma caused by separation.
  • School social workers should become budgeted, required positions in Pennsylvania.
  • Licensed clinical social workers in schools should be able to provide clinical care and submit for reimbursement.
  • Fund more social workers instead of school resource officers (police).
  • Train prenatal providers on ACEs.
  • Create a parent education resource handout for healthcare providers to give parents in exam rooms.

To learn more, or join the movement to make Lancaster County a trauma-informed community, please visit the Lancaster County (PA) ACEs & Resilience Connection group online community.

Or attend the new Trauma-Informed Lancaster workgroup for building community awareness (Friday, Jan. 11, 8:30-9:30 am, in the Third Floor Conference Room at the LGH Suburban Outpatient Pavillion, 2100 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster. LOHF Executive Director Anna Kennedy will chair the meeting and you may contact her for more details.

Guest Post by John Walker, Board Chair

More often than I would like, I hear about kids who need help with anxiety and depression. I hear about kids who are suffering, and parents who don’t know where to turn. I’ve even experienced some sad losses this year, as I know some you have too. There is simply a great urgency to do all we can to improve access to behavioral health services for kids and their families.

The need is so great that it can feel overwhelming at times. It reminds me of a story you have probably heard.

It matters to the one

A young girl walked along a beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up during a storm. With each step, she bent over and picked up a starfish and threw it back into the water.

She’d been doing this for some time when a man approached her and asked, “Why are you doing that? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl looked down and thought about it. Then she took another step, picked up another starfish and threw it back in the water. “Well, I made a difference for that one!” As she kept going, the man joined her. Then so did others.

That’s what we’re doing. We’re throwing starfish back in the ocean. Each of our efforts helps one child.

You matter to a child

The collective dollars and talent of LOHF supporters make each and every one of them an integral part of this movement to elevate the mental well-being of youth and children in Lancaster County. We can’t thank you enough!

Through their generosity, we’ve provided continuing medical education in children’s behavioral health to 140 physicians this year. These trainings are held 4-6 times per year at UPMC Pinnacle – Lititz, and are open to the public. If you’d like to join us for one or more of these free presentations in 2019, we’d love to have you!

Collectively, LOHF supporters provided similar training for school administrators and primary care providers through the Medical Education Coalition with IU13. This included important conversations addressing student and parent concerns about confidentiality. In May, the training will focus on school avoidance, anxiety, and truancy.

We know that physicians, behavioral healthcare professionals, and school personnel are not the only professionals we rely on to care for our kids. Again, thanks to the gifts of LOHF supporters, 27 nurses received a total of $63,000 in scholarships this year.

It doesn’t stop there. Thanks to LOHF donors and volunteers, we have completed research and development for NavWell: Pathways to Well-being. We developed this secure, online system to improve children’s behavioral health by connecting primary care providers with behavioral health providers. Discussions are happening with healthcare systems and providers about launching a pilot. We can’t wait to see NavWell fulfilling its potential by equipping primary and behavioral healthcare providers for collaborative care that benefits kids!

Remarkably, donations provided mental health copay assistance for 158 children and parents in financial need. These families paid just $10 per visit for their appointments with licensed behavioral healthcare providers. Think fora minute about a family that has been able to get mental health support that couldn’t before. Our supporters came through for them!

Together, we elevated the mental well-being of 38,682 youth and children through the LOHF Children’s Behavioral Health Grants program. Together, we put them back in the water to thrive. Each and every donor and volunteer makes this possible.

You matter to us

The need is great, and seems insurmountable at times. But like the girl rescuing starfish, we’re making a difference for the ones we can reach. We can’t do it without your help. With your help, we are elevating the mental well-being of youth and children right here in our communities—one, by one, by one.

On behalf of the kids and families who benefit from your gifts, and the board and staff of LOHF, thank you. You are truly changing lives, one at a time.

We look forward to another year of standing on the sand with you, helping starfish back into the water.

Guest post by Emily Pressley, DO
Psychiatrist, Penn Medicine/LGH

Our youth are in crisis with depression and suicide. To turn this around, we must understand the magnitude of the crisis, the risk factors, warning signs, and ways to support our youth.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death of young people ages 15-24. A whopping 20% of high school students have seriously considered ending their lives. Each year, 575,000 young people attempt it. Sadly, 4,600 succeed. Every year.

That’s more than half a million of our nation’s youth choosing to end their lives with firearms (45%), suffocation/hanging (40%), poisoning/overdose (8%), and other means.

What puts youth at risk for depression and suicide?

Factors that increase a young person’s risk for suicide include:

  • Mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorders
  • Interpersonal losses
  • Family violence
  • Sexual identity confusion
  • Physical and sexual abuse
  • Bullying
  • Educational and discipline problems
  • Family history of depression
  • Medical issues, such as asthma, diabetes, migraines
  • Obesity
  • History of suicide attempts
  • Negative body image
  • Low self-esteem
  • Antisocial peer group

Prevention starts with knowing the warning signs

Suicide is difficult to predict. But there are signs we should not ignore. These include:

  • Talking about dying. Any mention of self-harm (such as disappearing, jumping, shooting self) communicated directly, or through social media
  • Recent loss through death, divorce, breakup of relationship
  • Loss of interest in activities and social contacts
  • Change in personality (such as sadness, withdrawal, irritability, anxiety, loss of energy, apathy)
  • Change in behavior, difficulty concentrating, failing grades
  • Change in sleep patterns (too much or too little sleep, nightmares)
  • Change in eating habits (loss of appetite, loss of weight, overeating)
  • Loss of control (acting erratically, harm to self or others
  • Increase in substance use
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame
  • Hopelessness

Next steps: screening and treatment

Early detection can lead to early treatment. This can be done through depression/suicide risk screening. A behavioral healthcare professional, and often a primary healthcare provider, can provide one or more evidence-based screenings available.

The teen may then be referred for treatment. Treatment should last for at least 6 months, and may include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Interpersonal Therapy (as a first line of therapy)
  • Medication that is FDA approved for use by adolescents (for more severe depression)

Treatment should NOT include:

  • Tricyclic anti-depressants. They have been found to be ineffective in adolescents.

Any medication therapy should be closely monitored. If the teen does not respond to medication therapy, or shows and increase in mood swings, they should be re-evaluated for possible bipolar disorder.

If a teen you know shows warning signs, reach out to your primary care provider or behavioral health professional for a screening.                                                                                                                                                                

Applications are open for the spring 2019 LOHF Children’s Behavioral Health Grants. Applications must be submitted online by March 1, 2019.

Based on research, including our Youth Behavioral Health Study, we have learned that mental/behavioral health services for youth and children exist, but that the system is fragmented. Families are overwhelmed and confused, and providers lack the tools to refer families for therapy, counseling, and treatment. Therefore, our grants invest in practical solutions that elevate the mental well-being of youth and children in Lancaster County.

Here’s what’s new

Funded programs must address at least one of the outcomes we have listed to choose from. We recommend applicants first review and download our UPDATED LOGIC MODEL as a guide before applying.

  • Increase access for children to have behavioral healthcare
  • Ensure seamless transition of behavioral healthcare services for youth into young adulthood (ages 14-26)
  • Help families navigate mental/behavioral healthcare and resources
  • Integrate behavioral healthcare in primary care practices
  • Build caregiver confidence to use strengths-based approaches
  • Train professionals in methods that enhance patient mental/behavioral health
  • Expand behavioral health screenings in primary care

How we make our grant award decisions

These are the questions we ask our volunteer committee members when they review grant applications. Each question is scored, and we award funding to the highest scored applications.

  • To what degree will children’s behavioral health be enhanced by this?
  • To what degree will this fill an existing gap in services?
  • How viable is this in terms of the organization’s staff capacity?
  • How much impact can our funding have based on the overall project?
  • How much of a positive return on investment will there be for Lancaster County?
  • To what degree does it align with our values?
  • How well will we be able to measure the success of this project?
  • To what degree does this utilize data-driven best practices?

We encourage all applicants to carefully review our grants program page, then discuss your request with our executive director before applying.

LOHF recently convened a discussion with our grantees regarding access to mental health services for youth during their transition to adulthood. LOHF would like to fund programs to expand services to these transition-age youth. The group discussed questions such as:

  • How can we help teens with mental health needs as they age out of child mental health services to become young adults?
  • What special considerations should we keep in mind as we help teens and young adults navigate their needs for mental health care?

Answering such questions is significant because teens are receiving mental health services in a pediatric system designed for those under age 18. Once they turn 18, many teens must abruptly switch to the adult mental health system. Young people who lack adequate support to navigate the adult mental health care system overnight, often lose access to critical mental health care.

For our discussion, we referred to a recent LOHF blog post about transition age youth, and a summary of themes that emerged from a questionnaire used in the LOHF needs assessment. There are existing mental health services, but they target specific groups such as: teen parents, whole families, mental health court, and trauma-informed care.

What’s already in place

Programs in Lancaster County serving teen and young adult mental health needs include:

  • CSG has had success by pairing education with fun, such as movie nights followed by a discussion, and a community garden.
  • COBYS is starting a kinship information center to help families with workshops and a monthly support group.
  • Children’s Behavioral Health Clinic, CHI-St. Joseph’s Health has a family-oriented coaching program that serves families in their homes. Staff educate families about nutrition, behavior management strategies, exercise, and family engagement. Private dollars fund the program.
  • CAP provides a full-time parent navigator at McCaskey High School. It has launched a similar program with HACC with a crisis worker who can refer students to services.
  • Teen ELECT wants to help school districts provide, or connect with, clinicians such as social workers.
  • Teen Hope provides mental health screenings to high schools and middle schools. To identify students who may be experiencing depression or anxiety. It then connects the family to mental healthcare providers.
  • COBYS will be training therapists in Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), a proven treatment to help persons 18 and older heal from trauma. This is through a criminal justice grant, and they will work the mental health court.

More must be done

  • This is collective impact work. We must find ways to connect services together. In a similar manner as the Let’s Talk collaborative, we must have a clear, concise focus and message to engage all partners with clarity.
  • The solution requires strategic collaboration and a multifaceted approach. It requires community development and communication. We must work together to direct funds to create seamless transition for youth mental healthcare.
  • We must gather data for how many transition-age youth receive mental healthcare and at what levels of care. LOHF welcomes program data from all of our grantees. We will synthesize this information beginning with a non-prescriptive white paper that provides clear vision.

Join the movement

In May 2018, we launched our Grantee Cohort Meetings with a discussion of ACEs & Trauma-Informed Care. We convene each spring and fall to share what’s working and discuss opportunities for future needs.

Please “save the date” for our next Grantee Cohort Meeting on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 from 8:00 am – 10:00 am, at LOHF.




Student collaboration helps us measurably elevate children’s mental wellbeing

Abigail Jeffreys, Millersville University Sociology Major and 2018 LOHF Intern presents her research at “Made in Millersville.”

For the past year, LOHF has welcomed interns from Millersville University and West Chester University. This has evolved to include collaboration with professors who are incorporating meaningful projects for LOHF into their classes. These students and professors contribute to our success in measurably elevating children’s mental health in Lancaster County. And student feedback indicates their learning is enhanced by this chance to apply their knowledge to meaningful, significant work. Ultimately, the real winners are the children served by LOHF’s grant funding and other programs.

In the past year, the contributions of these college students have included:

  • For their senior capstone project, a team of PR majors from a Millersville University Public Relations class with Dr. Thomas Boyle created a campaign for our first giving circle, Lift Up Children’s Mental Health, to be launched this month.
  • As a cornerstone in their Digital Marketing class with Dr. A Nicole Pfannenstiel, Millersville students are creating and participating in our ExtraOrdinary Give social media event.
  • To better understand social research methods, Dr. Carrie Smith’s sociology students at Millersville University pitched their research ideas to us for unique new perspectives on how we can better engage Lancaster City residents in our work.
  • Interns from Millersville and West Chester Universities majoring in disciplines of social work, sociology, criminal justice, psychology, and English have also:
    • completed important research on our grants program
    • assisted with our nursing scholarship program
    • helped us create an ongoing forum to collaborate with our grantees and share information
    • created social media posts and graphics
    • made significant contributions to the changes that will be coming to our Website content and functionality

We are so grateful to these students, their professors, and these universities for these mutually beneficial collaborations that are ultimately a win for Lancaster County kids!

Learn how to apply for an LOHF Internship



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