Cincinnati State joins grant-funded partnership to support behavioral health education in southern Ohio

Cincinnati State is a member of a new partnership with Wilmington College and Southern State Community College that aims to increase the number of behavioral health professionals in the region.

Representatives from the three institutions joined for a “ribbon tying” ceremony to mark the start of the new grant, seen in the photo above. From left (FRONT ROW) – Southern State Community College President Dr. Nicole Rhoades, Wilmington College Interim President Dr. Corey Cockerill and Cincinnati State President Dr. Monica Posey. (MIDDLE ROW) – Dr. Audrey Wagstaff (Wilmington Professor of Social Science and Communication Arts), Dr. Erika Goodwin (Southern State VP of Academic and Student Affairs), Nick Balle (Cincinnati State Chair, Human & Social Services), and Dr. Sylvia Stevens (Wilmington VP for Community and Business Development). (BACK ROW) – Wendy Grab, (Wilmington Assistant Professor of Social Work), and Charlie Gorman (Southern State Human & Social Services program).

The partnership is funded through a grant from the Ohio Department of Education and includes $50,000 designated for Cincinnati State.

Nick Balle, Program Chair for Cincinnati State’s Human and Social Services (HSS) degree and Addiction Studies major (HSSAD), said the grant funding will help provide support for student practicum experiences as well as additional recruiting efforts.

Other grant-supported activities will focus on seeking formal accreditation and endorsement for the HSS and HSSAD programs from the national Council for Standards in Human Service Education and the Ohio Coalition of Associate Degree Human Services Educators.

Geoff Woolf, Dean of the Humanities & Sciences Division, said the grant also provides $40,000 to support Cincinnati State graduates who earn an HSS degree or an Associate of Arts degree with focus on Social Work and continue their studies at Wilmington College for a Bachelor of Social Work degree. The funds will be available to students who are “passionate about strengthening the connection between southwest Ohio’s rural and urban communities.” 

Wilmington College will lead efforts to establish a regional Accredited Social Work Pathway Program that students can use to move from foundational studies to advanced, licensure-ready education. The approach emphasizes community-engaged learning, and prioritizes service to high-risk and underserved communities in southern Ohio.

Wilmington Interim President Corey Cockerill said the initiative is a response to a statewide healthcare challenge, and will prepare a new generation of professionals who are equipped and committed to addressing mental and behavioral health needs in their communities. She said, “We are grateful to our partner institutions and the Ohio Department of Higher Education for this incredible opportunity.”

(Photo by Randy Sarvis, Wilmington College)