This partnership was an obvious choice for our organizations to connect their missions of helping families. So, what is the correlation between OPC, FSO, and PFLAG; and how will the partnership benefit both? I had the opportunity to ask Andrew McMath, an OPC Care Manager Supervisor about the history of OPC and their views on the new partnership with PFLAG Jersey Shore.
OPC started in 2005 as Ocean County’s designated Care Management Organization (CMO). It is part of New Jersey Department of Children and Families/Children’s System of Care and is one of fifteen care management organizations covering the state. The mission of OPC, and all of the CMOs throughout the State is to provide care coordination services for youth with mental health, substance abuse, and developmental challenges. The care coordination is essential in bringing together all available supports, professional and community resources; to help these youth and their families succeed and thrive. The original and founding CEO/Executive Director was Rick DeGironimo, and on his retirement in 2014, Mary Jo Buchanan succeeded him. Andrew MacMath is one of the agency’s supervisors; overseeing the work of a team six care managers. OPC currently has over 60 care managers working with over 800 Ocean County youth at present. And the numbers continue to grow!
OPC solely provides care coordination services for youth and families in Ocean County. They serve children and young adults (ages 4-21 years) and work to help these youth overcome mental health, substance use, and developmental disabilities to succeed in their lives. Ocean Partnership for Children helps children every day by using a unique and successful wraparound model that surrounds them with the services they need to keep them at home, in school and safely in the community. Over 85% of the youth served by OPC successfully remain at home, connected to their school and community supports.
As part of the State’s Children’s System of Care, OPC will continue to provide care coordination services to the increasing numbers of youth in need in Ocean County. The agency originally served youth with mental health challenges, however, has recently expanded to help youth with developmental disabilities, such as autism. OPC has also expanded to serve youth with substance use issues, which is a major concern in Ocean County. The agency is dedicated to collaborations and partnerships, such as the one being undertaken with PFLAG Jersey Shore. These partnerships help OPC to connect to resources in the community, which is critical for our youth and families. The collaborative efforts also serve as an outreach to children and youth who may be in need of care coordination services.
Ocean County’s resources related to the LGBTQ community have been historically limited, which makes the collaboration between OPC and PFLAG Jersey Shore even more meaningful. By partnering and creating a comprehensive model that provides support for both parents/caregivers and young people simultaneously, it will be able to more effective to build support for members of this community. Additionally, with the Family Support Organization (FSO) providing childcare during the meetings as an added collaboration, almost all barriers for families to attend to get the support they need have been removed.
PFLAG Jersey Shore was a natural partner for OPC to work with – it just makes sense! Both OPC and FSO work within a Wraparound Model, that focuses on addressing the needs of families as a unit in a comprehensive way. OPC was running a group for LGBTQ young people without being able to provide a group for the parents/caregivers, which was creating barriers; and simultaneously PFLAG was running a successful parent group without an ability to support young people. With the addition of FSO in the mix, it is a perfect match! The partnership allows OPC to do the work they love in the most comprehensive manner possible and helps youth and families build a wider network of natural, community-based support, which is always a top goal for OPC. Also, it allows PFLAG Jersey Shore to address its concerns with childcare during the LGBTQ support meetings. Together both OPC and PFLAG Jersey Shore will be able to reach a wider range of the community, allowing for an increase in attendance for both meetings and assist more families in need of assistance.
PFLAG Jersey Shore, along with OPC and FSO, are excited to see how our future outreach can grow and serve more individuals throughout the county. PFLAG Jersey Shore continues to identify ways to improve our services to the community and meet the ever-growing needs of LGBTQ individuals, their families, and friends.