|

Municipality of Princeton ditches Corner House for mental health and addiction services, will outsource them to Catholic Charities

Starting in January, Corner House Behavioral Health, an organization based within the municipality with offices at Monument Hall that has served the community for more than 50 years, will no longer provide mental health and addiction services for the Princeton Community.

Instead, the municipality will contract with Catholic Charities to provide mental health and addiction services. Catholic Charities will be able to offer expanded services, according to local officials.

Corner House will still provide youth programming and outreach in the area of addiction prevention at local schools through the municipality’s health and human services departments.

“This decision was made through a careful evaluation of the paradigm shift in behavioral health
treatment toward the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) standard; while also considering other factors, such as the expressed need from the public for expanded mental health services within the Municipality,” reads a press release sent by Health Officer Jeff Grosser on Friday afternoon.

“After extensive research and re-evaluation of the program, the Municipality has determined that the market alternative, Catholic Charities, is better suited to deliver the same quality of care for a wider range of services to more Princeton residents than Corner House Behavioral Health. By directly connecting patients to the CCBHC network, whose activities are largely funded by federal and state grants and offer low-to-no-cost services, they will receive a more comprehensive and coordinated spectrum of care, beyond substance use and mental health,” reads the press release.

Replacing Corner House and outsourcing addiction and mental health services to Catholic Charities will save the municipality half a million dollars a year. “This transition demonstrates the Council’s deep commitment to prudent oversight of taxpayer dollars…while expanding and improving services for Princeton’s most vulnerable residents,” reads the press release.

“Catholic Charities has been certified by the State of New Jersey as one of Mercer County’s CCBHCs, which demonstrates that they meet an industry standard of best practices concerning the timeliness of care provision, the range of services provided, and access to 24/7 crisis services. Moreover, CCBHCs help people coordinate care across different systems, such as physical health care and social services,” reads the press release. “This ensures that patients receive holistic care quickly and do not need to navigate multiple care providers to meet their behavioral health needs. Tapping into the CCBHC network via Catholic Charities will allow Princeton to align its programs with cutting-edge behavioral health best practices.”

According to the press release, the municipality will increase the Corner House addiction prevention team’s youth programming in conjunction with programs offered under Health and Human Services.

“The Municipality deeply appreciates the unwavering commitment and dedication of Corner House staff and affiliates over the years and looks forward to continuing this collaborative partnership,” reads the press release. “Princeton will be working closely with Catholic Charities and Corner House to ensure that there are no gaps in care for existing patients as this transition occur.”

Founded in 1972, Corner House was originally funded by Princeton Borough, Princeton Township, and Mercer County. The Princeton Medical Center, concerned with the rising drug and alcohol problems in Princeton, leased a house to the agency for $1 per year. Corner House was created to offer a place where a variety of services were offered to people struggling with substance abuse and their families. As of 2022, Corner House has a budget of just over $1 million with funding from Princeton, the State of New Jersey, Mercer County, Princeton Regional Schools, private donors, and several area corporations and foundations.

Gary DeBlasio was the executive director of Corner House for more than two decades. In 2021 after he retired, the organization chose David Errickson to be his successor. Errickson is no longer with the agency, but the Council never approved a permanent replacement after his departure.