As the Covid-19 pandemic increased the need for mental health practitioners and social workers to serve people in Omaha, it became crucial for nonprofits working in this field to maintain competitive salaries to attract applicants. Without trained professionals, fewer people would receive services.

As part of the City of Omaha’s ARPA Community Grant Program, Child Saving Institute (CSI) received $299,436 to expand its Mental Health Services program and increase salaries for new and existing employees. They also used the funds to offer additional training to employees. As a result, the organization saw a tremendous increase in job applicants.

Once the new salaries were in place, they received applications from seven Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioners (LIMHP) for a position that six months prior saw zero applicants.

“As a result of receiving this grant, the Pediatric and Adolescent Therapy program has been able to add clinicians and train them,” said Jaymes Sime, President and Chief Executive Officer of Child Saving Institute. “The pandemic increased the need to provide mental health services in the Omaha community and the grant allows for CSI to be a part of meeting the needs of the community.”

Rebecca was one of the LIMHPs hired with ARPA funds. She was attracted to the Institute’s mission and salary, as well as the available training opportunities.

“Training dollars are incredibly important because this profession requires a desire to learn and grow as a practitioner,” Rebecca said. “Trainings can be very expensive, but having the opportunity to better oneself ultimately benefits those we serve. If we want to treat more than just the surface of the issue, having the opportunity to become trained and certified in advanced modalities allows us that opportunity to heal those core wounds.”

The additional staff had an immediate impact on clients.

A young female client had been seeing a therapist with minimal progress before being referred to the Child Saving Institute. Her family had also requested the Crisis Response Team come to their home for assistance with de-escalation on multiple occasions. With the additional mental health professionals available, the family was able to schedule an appointment shortly after the referral.

“The family was at their breaking point. In the two-week period before the intake, I was informed that the family had requested crisis response roughly six or so more times,” Rebecca said. “I determined that two sessions a week would benefit my client. The family has not called for crisis response since starting therapy together. Having the ability to provide extended services and witness her progress has been incredible to see.”

Rebecca checked in with her client earlier this week and asked how she felt things were going. Her client replied: “I didn’t think there was any chance things would get better, but now I’m slowly beginning to see change.”


about this story

The City of Omaha partnered with the Omaha Community Foundation to administer the ARPA Community Grant Program because of the foundation’s work with local nonprofits and awareness of community needs. The grant program focused on providing funding to expand or enhance existing programs in areas of Crisis Intervention & Violence Prevention, and Workforce Development.

The City of Omaha ARPA Community Grant Program awarded $9.6 million to 35 nonprofit organizations. Eligible programs included youth programs such as mentoring, gang prevention and intervention, mental health, crisis response, and assistance to unemployed workers including workforce readiness training, certification, and employment services.

See all City of Omaha ARPA Community Grant Program grant recipients.

This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP0230 awarded to the City of Omaha by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.