Transition Time: Creating Powerful Partnerships Between Schools and Community Services Boards (CSBs)

By Debbie Grosser, M.Ed., and Dale Pennell, C.A.S.

Mission Statement of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards (VASCB)

The mission of the VASCB is to achieve a publicly-funded system of quality public and private services in Virginia that:

  • Is ultimately responsive to the needs of individuals with mental disabilities and their families;
  • Focuses resources on community-based supports for individuals with mental disabilities;
  • Ameliorates and prevents disabling conditions; and
  • Promotes independence, recovery, behavioral health and education of the public about the needs of individuals with mental disabilities.

An interview with Mary Ann Bergeron, executive director of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards (CSBs)

Question: Ms. Bergeron, who is eligible to receive services from CSBs?

The following are eligible to receive services from CSBs:

  • Individuals who experience psychiatric crises,
  • Adults with serious mental illness,
  • Youth with serious emotional disabilities whose family stability is impacted by severe behaviors that endanger themselves or others,
  • Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID),
  • Youth and adults with severe addiction issues, and
  • Infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities.

Question: What services do CSBs provide for individuals with disabilities?

Services mandated by the Code of Virginia include emergency services for individuals in psychiatric crises and case management, if CSB resources allow. Case management services are very specific, comprehensive services that support an individual's ability to live in the community. Such services assist individuals and their families in accessing needed medical, psychiatric, social, educational, vocational, and other supports essential to meeting their basic needs.

CSBs vary in the amount of resources available, the type of services provided, and capacity to serve individuals in their communities beyond services mandated by the Code of Virginia. Typically, CSBs provide psychosocial treatment, psychiatric consultation, and medication monitoring for children and adults. Other services may include youth day treatment, residential assistance for adults, and employment support. Further, there are 16 intensive community treatment programs statewide for adults who have histories of hospitalization, incarceration, non-adherence to treatment, and other intractable symptoms.

CSBs receive ID Waiver slots to be allocated to individuals with intellectual disabilities who are most in need. The ID Waivers allow persons with intellectual disabilities to receive a variety of individualized supports that allow them to live in the community in the least restrictive environment possible. Services that may be provided with ID Waiver funding include:

  • Residential support,
  • Day support,
  • Supported employment, and
  • Other services necessary to maintain community living.

Question: What services do CSBs provide for youth in secondary school?

Aside from mandated services, services available from CSBs for school-age youth vary by locality. Some provide services beyond the school day and during the summer months to students who have ID Waivers. Certain CSBs offer school-based treatment for students with severe emotional disabilities, including group therapy or intensive treatment to assist youth with activities of daily living. Many also provide counseling and group support for youth with substance-use disorders. Additionally, CSBs offer community prevention programs that provide information to families and direction and guidance to youth to help them combat peer pressure related to topics such as

  • Alcohol,
  • Drugs,
  • Teen pregnancy,
  • School dropout, and
  • Gang involvement.

Question: How early should students be referred for CSB services?

Parents who suspect their child has an intellectual disability can contact their local CSB at any time to request an assessment of the child. If the child is found eligible for services, the child is placed on a waiting list to receive an ID Waiver. Youth who have emotional disabilities or substance-use disabilities may be referred for services at any time.

Question: How can schools create powerful partnerships with local CSBs to support student transition to post-high school life?

CSBs attempt to work with special education departments of local school divisions to gain information about the levels of need of students with intellectual disabilities who will be graduating within a specified number of years. Such information helps CSBs anticipate and plan to meet the need for services that may not otherwise be available immediately upon completion of high school, especially services that several students will need upon graduation.

School division personnel should contact their local CSB to learn more about specific program offerings and to open a dialogue about how to create powerful partnerships between the two agencies. Go to for contact information for CSBs across the state of Virginia.