Worcester Youth & Family Receives Grant from Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield to Improve Behavioral Health Outcomes on the Lower Eastern Shore

Worcester Youth & Family

Receives Grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield to Improve Behavioral Health Outcomes on the Lower Eastern Shore

$7.9 million in grants to various organizations will improve access to behavioral health services and provider workforce development in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia 

Berlin, Maryland –Today, Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services, Inc. was awarded $225,000 over three years to recruit and retain behavioral health providers which will ultimately increase access to service. This award is part of a larger $7.9 million grant investment from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the largest not-for-profit health plan in the mid-Atlantic region, to improve behavioral health outcomes for youth across its service areas in the region.


‘With this grant we will be able to recruit across the country to find excellent behavioral health providers. We will also have the ability to offer incentives to those who work here, including a wellness room, paid CEUs, and self-care planning. With that, we hope to increase access to mental health care in our community with providers who are healthy and well.” -Dr. Jennifer Leggour, Executive Director


To identify needs and challenges impacting behavioral health in the region, CareFirst conducted key interviews with community-based organizations. This process informed its priority areas for the funding, which include:

  • Addressing disparities for at-risk youth of color and LGBTQ youth, or supporting programs that address the root causes leading to higher prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders and reduce barriers to services.
  • Expanding the behavioral health workforce, or increasing the availability of trained behavioral health providers through recruitment, retention and incentives to expand access to qualified mental health professionals in areas with limited access.

Special considerations were given to organizations serving Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), disconnected youth, persons experiencing homelessness, populations with limited English proficiency (LEP), structurally disinvested communities, justice-involved individuals, LGBTQ populations, low-income communities, rural communities, and other marginalized communities.


Other organizations receiving funds include:

  • Association for the Public Defender of Maryland (Prince George’s County, MD)
  • Chase Brexton Health Services (Baltimore City, MD)
  • Identity Inc. (Montgomery County, MD)
  • Pride Center of Maryland (Baltimore City, MD)
  • Sasha Bruce Youthwork (Washington, D.C)
  • Ignatius Loyola Academy (Baltimore City, MD)
  • Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (Washington, D.C.)
  • Center for Urban Families (Baltimore City, MD)
  • University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (Charles County, MD)
  • Luminis Health Inc. (Anne Arundel County, MD)
  • Pathways to Housing D.C. (Washington D.C.)
  • West Cecil Health Center, Inc. (Cecil County, MD)


“CareFirst recognizes that behavioral health is an essential part of overall health, which includes a continuum of conditions ranging from severe mental health disorders to the emotional, psychological, and social factors that affect a person’s overall wellbeing,” said Dr. Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact for CareFirst. “We are proud to invest in 19 dynamic organizations who will minimize behavioral health disparities among young people and dramatically increase the number of trained health professionals that provide culturally responsive and trauma-informed behavioral health care.”


About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

In its 85th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit healthcare company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.6 million individuals and employers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2021, CareFirst invested $26.2 million to improve overall health, and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of healthcare throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at www.carefirst.com and our transforming healthcare page at www.carefirst.com/transformation, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.