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CAPS hires four new workers to connect students to community

In a campus-wide email focusing on diversity and inclusion initiatives sent on April 22, Chancellor Carol Folt said CAPS has made strides this year in its cultural competency trainings it has offered to its staff, in addition to the new positions.

Allen O’Barr, director of CAPS, said one of his ongoing goals is to improve referral coordination, a process by which CAPS staff assist students who require long-term care in finding therapists in the community.

Currently, some students are offered a list of care providers after walk-in appointments at CAPS if they cannot be treated in the course of a semester, while others receive an appointment to help them reach out to these care providers, O’Barr said.

Elizabeth McIntyre, who is a clinical social worker and referral coordinator at CAPS, said currently, referral coordination appointments are offered to students whose needs are most pressing.

“Based on our clinical judgment, or if they have concerns, they are offered referral coordination,” McIntyre said. “Part of it is what they share, part of it is our own clinical feel.”

With the four new positions, O’Barr said CAPS will be able to move toward their goal of offering referral coordination for all students who are referred out. Students will always have the option to decline the appointment — but it will be made available to everyone who walks through the door.

O’Barr said this increase in resources represents CAPS doing the best it can with the money the University is able to offer.

“We hear students don’t want to be referred out,” O’Barr said. “We can’t do anything about that, but what we can do is make that process as easy as possible.”

O’Barr said $144,000 has been approved for the salaries of the four new employees in the upcoming year, and they will begin work on August 1.

This allocation of money is not permanent — only temporary, for the upcoming year. Offices for the workers are not yet ready or located.

O’Barr said over 100 applications for the four open positions were submitted. The positions are set up to be one-year internships.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said the money for the positions was freed up from other campus initiatives.

“It’s not new money,” Crisp said. “It is moving stuff around, money that we didn’t spend on other things, that’s why it’s a one-year thing. That should not be a suggestion that we think this is a one-year project.”

Crisp said the task of finding space for the new hires will be a challenge, but feasible.

“We have used up most of the usable footprint. It’s not just CAPS — anywhere we can hire new people, we have challenges for where to put them,” he said. “We will figure out a way that makes it easiest for students to access them.”

O’Barr said two options are on the table: to renovate within CAPS’ current space, or to open a satellite clinic.

“This is a space where I think we can do better and need to do better,” Crisp said. “These post-docs will be making sure that when we do transfer people from short-term to long-term care, that we do it better.”

O’Barr said he looks forward to what these interns can do with his limited budget.

“In the absence of those resources, what can we do with what we’ve got, and what request can I put in to the University that’s not absurd, what’s reasonable that can help me fix not the underlying problem, but fix the sense that someone is just being passed on,” O’Barr said. “I want to alleviate that sense. That’s what I want to fix.”

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