Although Funding the PEARLS Program Presents Many Challenges…
We do not yet have readily available sources of funding for the PEARLS Program, which means that funding for the program must come from the organization implementing it.
In the research study testing the effectiveness of the PEARLS Program for older adults, the full cost of implementing the PEARLS Program – which included a social worker who served as a PEARLS counselor and a supervising psychiatrist – was estimated to be $630 per client. Additional costs were incurred to support recruitment and screening of all potential clients who ultimately were not eligible or declined to participate in the research study.
Generally speaking, Medicare reimbursement would cover services provided by doctoral level psychologists or psychiatrists, nurse healthcare specialists (such as advanced registered nurse practitioners) or master’s level licensed clinical social workers. It is quite feasible to train any of these practitioners to serve as PEARLS counselors. However, in the Medicaid funded public mental health system of some states (for example, Washington State), the same limits on the types of providers do not exist. In these states, access to care standards are based on diagnosis and severity of illness criteria, which would not typically include services for Medicaid recipients with minor depression or dysthymia.
…There are Also Many Funding Opportunities
Some opportunities for possible funding for the PEARLS Program include:
- The SAMHSA-sponsored Community Mental Health Services Block Grant Program
This funding is allocated by the state Mental Health Division through a grant application process for programs specifically designated to provide for services not covered by the Medicaid program. The PEARLS Program fits this definition, which means that organizations can apply for this funding by working with the mental health regional support networks of their geographical locations.
- Special funding allocations from within Area Agencies on Aging budgets and
Case Study: In one urban Area Agency on Aging (AAA), the PEARLS Program has been sustained with funds allocated directly from the AAA discretionary budget as authorized by its advisory council at a funding rate of $20,000 per year. This helps support services from two half-time PEARLS counselors and their ongoing psychiatric supervision.
- Private, independent small grant funding.