The Connecticut Junior Republic (CJR) is one of six organizations to receive a grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) to address healthcare disparities across Connecticut.  The $140,000 CHEFA grant will be expended over two years and will help CJR increase access to psychiatric services for children and families. CJR’s behavioral and mental health services are provided at five Wellness Center clinics, located in four of Connecticut’s eight counties, and through school-based services, currently provided in 21 schools in Litchfield, Hartford and New Haven Counties.

CHEFA grant funds will assist CJR in hiring an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) to increase psychiatric care and oversight for children and families who have the most intensive needs and the least ability to access services.  The APRN will join a growing staff of clinicians and psychiatrists, including Medical Director Rizwan Parvez, M.D., and CJR’s Director of Behavioral Health, Jennifer Grant, LCSW.

This new position will also provide enhanced psychiatric supervision for CJR’s Wellness Center clinicians.  The additional training and oversight of clinicians will ensure that the young people and families treated through CJR’s clinics and school-based behavioral health services have more direct access to psychiatric care.  

The CHEFA grant is anticipated to benefit 1,500 children, youth and family members over two years.  The Wellness Center is CJR’s fastest-growing program, with clinics in Danbury, Litchfield, New Britain, Torrington and Waterbury.  CJR also provides behavioral health services in a growing number of elementary, middle and high schools by special arrangement.  In its most recently completed fiscal year, the Wellness Center served 860 young people and families – an increase of 33% over the prior year.

“CJR is aware of the intense competition for grants awarded through CHEFA’s Targeted Grant Program and our organization is deeply honored to have been selected to receive a grant of this magnitude to improve services for the young people and families who are served through our behavioral health programs,” stated CJR President and CEO, Daniel Rezende.  “The need for mental health services transcends socio-economic status although the barriers to treatment may be different,” he said.  “These barriers may be financial, geographic, transportation-related, familial, or cultural, and any combination can make access to care especially difficult.  CJR has a strong commitment to eliminating barriers to services and has a long history raising funds and piloting programs that increase health equity and access to treatment for high need and vulnerable children – some as young as two years of age – and their families,” he noted.                                                                                                                                                             

CHEFA Executive Director Jeanette W. Weldon stated, “CHEFA is proud to make this significant commitment to address healthcare disparities throughout Connecticut.  Each of our six grants will provide the recipients with between $118,000 – $250,000 to support important programming that will make great strides towards ensuring all Connecticut residents have access to the care they need and deserve.”

According to Betty Sugerman Weintraub, CHEFA Manager for Grant Programs and Philanthropic Outreach, the six grant awards focus on supporting the elimination of healthcare disparities in Connecticut.  The grant awards include increased access to mental health services for children, increasing culturally diverse community health workers and breastfeeding lactation experts, and providing access to equitable care for traditionally marginalized communities.  “Access to equitable health care is a human right, and should not be determined by the color of your skin or your zip code,” she said.

CHEFA is a quasi-public organization that provides access to tax-exempt financing, grants and other financial assistance to educational institutions, healthcare providers, childcare providers and other qualifying 501(c)(3) organizations.  CHEFA has issued over $23.7 billion in bonds since 1965, and awarded more than $45.5 million in grants since 2002.  CHEFA is a self-supporting entity, receiving no state funds or taxpayer dollars.

Founded in 1904, CJR provides residential and community-based care, treatment, family support, education and behavioral and mental health services for young people so they may thrive and become productive and fulfilled members of their homes, schools and communities.  The organization’s combined programs serve nearly 1,700 boys and girls annually at program sites throughout Connecticut and in a growing number of public schools.

CJR is a private charitable organization and its programs are accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).  CJR is supported by gifts from individuals, businesses, foundations and organizations, and through service contracts funded by the Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division (JBCSSD), the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS), by Connecticut’s public schools, and through other income earned for services provided.

A photo of the recent check presentation is attached.  Pictured from left are:  Dr. Peter Lisi, Chair, CHEFA Board of Directors; Betty Sugerman Weintraub, Manager of Grant Programs and Philanthropic Outreach, CHEFA;

Daniel W. Rezende, President and CEO, CJR; and Jeanette W. Weldon, Executive Director, CHEFA.

For more information, please contact Hedy Barton, Director of Development and Public Relations (860) 567-9423, extension 1252; or by email: hbarton@cjryouth.org.

April 28, 2023