St. Joseph’s is well known throughout our region for providing excellent addiction treatment, and as a resource for addiction-related information.
In recent years, St. Joseph’s has also developed the capacity for providing education and training on subjects related to addiction for residents throughout several of our rural counties.
A significant development in this area is, under the direction of Director of Engagement and Development, Tom Higman, our offering Certified Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) classes to individuals interested in providing direct clinical care services and substance use disorder counseling.
St. Joseph’s initiative in developing CASAC training is important for many reasons, including fulfilling the increased demand for counselors and others in the field, and the unique aspect of distance-learning that St. Joseph’s offers individuals from throughout our rural region to participate in classes without having to travel long distances.
As Tom shares, “The growth of the program developed through word-of-mouth as colleagues throughout the area shared the opportunity with each other, and we’ve experienced a 20 percent growth in enrollment in just the last year.”
“And,” he continues, “In order to meet the work needs of those in the North Country, we approached OASAS for the permission to conduct distance-learning for students who, after working an eight-hour day, had to travel an additional two hours for classes. We were successful in our appeal and, with significant assistance from our Information Technology Department, currently have learning sites at our Rose Hill location, and our Supportive Housing facility in Malone, while additional sites are planned.”
St. Joseph’s support of those desiring to become CASACs is important also due to the certification’s requirements, which include a minimum of 6,000 hours (approximately three years) of supervised, full-time equivalent work experience in an approved setting; completion of education and training consisting of a minimum of 350 clock hours; successful completion of a criminal background check review; and passing the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium, Inc. (IC&RC) examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors (ADC).
As well, across the country, there remains a critical shortage of sufficiently trained and credentialed health workers and clinical professionals to meet the growing population of individuals in need of behavioral health care. A 2016 report published by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) highlighted worker shortages as a key challenge for meeting the nationwide need for behavioral healthcare,
“Shortages and mal-distribution of behavioral health providers complicate the behavioral health landscape by constraining access to essential care and treatment for millions of individuals with mental illness or substance use disorders. Mal-distribution intensifies the magnitude of provider shortages, as certain areas of the country have few or no behavioral health providers available.”
St. Joseph’s contribution to increasing the number of CASACs is, therefore, yet more meaningful and fundamental to our mission of “Healing individuals, restoring families, and strengthening communities”.