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Planning and Developing Infrastructure to Improve the Mental Health and Wellness of Children, Youth and Families in American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) Communities

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Short Title: Circles of Care VI
Initial Announcement Back to the Grants Dashboard

Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)

NOFO Number: SM-14-003

Posted on Thursday, December 26, 2013

Application Due Date: Friday, March 07, 2014

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 93.243

Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372):

Public Health System Impact Statement (PHSIS) / Single State Agency Coordination:


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2014 Planning and Developing Infrastructure to Improve the Mental Health and Wellness of Children, Youth and Families in American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) Communities (Short Title: Circles of Care VI) grants. The purpose of this program is to provide tribal and urban indian communities with tools and resources to plan and design a holistic, community-based, coordinated system of care approach to support mental health and wellness for children, youth, and families. These grants are intended to increase the capacity and effectiveness of mental health systems serving AI/AN communities. Circles of Care grantees will focus on the need to reduce the gap between the need for mental health services and the availability and coordination of mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders in AI/AN communities for children, youth, and young adults from birth through age 25 and their families.

The Circles of Care grant program draws on the system of care philosophy and principles that are implemented in the SAMHSA Cooperative Agreements for the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program. A system of care is defined as a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that are organized to meet the challenges of children and youth with mental health needs and their families. In the system of care approach, families and youth work in partnership with public and private organizations to design mental health services and supports that are effective, that build on the strengths of individuals and that address each person's cultural and linguistic needs. A system of care helps children, youth, and families function better at home, in school, in the community, and throughout life. Community leaders and constituency groups work in partnership with child serving agency directors and staff members to formulate methods to improve relationships between provider groups, address service capacity issues, and increase cultural competence in the overall system.

The Circles of Care program is also intended to address the impact of historical trauma on the well-being of AI/AN communities through community and culturally-based activities. The multiple traumas encountered by AI/AN people have contributed to the uprooting of traditional tribal cultural practices and a dismantling of the AI/AN family structure. In combination, these “historically traumatic events” resulted in a significant loss of culture, language, and traditional ways of life.

Note: For the purposes of the Circles of Care program, historical trauma will be defined as the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma experiences. (Brave Heart, 2003, p. 7).

“Wellness” is defined as being in balance and taking care of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of individuals and families. Achieving this wellness includes developing and integrating programs, supports and systems (both formal and informal) that promote positive mental health, prevent substance use and abuse, improve physical health, strengthen spiritual and cultural connections, and address environmental and social factors. (Hodge and Nandy, 2011).

Circles of Care grants are authorized under section 520A of the Public Health Service Act, as amended. This announcement addresses Healthy People 2020 Mental Health and Mental Disorders Topic Area HP 2020-MHMD and Substance Abuse Topic Area HP 2020-SA.

The Circles of Care grants closely align with SAMHSA’s Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness and Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiatives by focusing resources on reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on American communities and addressing the behavioral health impacts of trauma through a systematic public health approach. In addition, the Circles of Care grant provides the opportunity for AI/AN communities to support youth and young adults as they transition to adulthood by facilitating collaboration between child and adult serving agencies. 


In an effort to address mental health disparities within AI/AN communities, SAMHSA is limiting eligibility to federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations. Eligible applicants are as follows:

  • Federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations (as defined by USC 25, Chapter 14, Subchapter II, Section 450b).
  • Tribal Colleges and Universities (as identified by the American Indian Education Consortium).
  • Urban Indian Organizations (as identified by the Office of Indian Health Service Urban Indian Health Programs through active Title V grants/contracts).

Prior Circles of Care grantees are ineligible to apply (See Appendix K of the RFA).

The statutory authority for this program prohibits grants to for-profit agencies.

Tribal organization means the recognized body of any AI/AN tribe; any legally established organization of AI/AN which is controlled, sanctioned, or chartered by such governing body or which is democratically elected by the adult members of the Indian community to be served by such organization and which includes the maximum participation of AI/AN in all phases of its activities. Consortia of tribes or tribal organizations are eligible to apply, but each participating entity must indicate its approval.

Award Information

Funding Mechanism: Grant

Anticipated Total Available Funding: $4,381,941

Anticipated Number of Awards: Up to 11

Anticipated Award Amount: Up to $400,000 per year

Length of Project: Up to 3 years

Cost Sharing/Match Required?: No

Proposed budgets cannot exceed $400,000 in total costs (direct and indirect) in any year of the proposed project. Annual continuation awards will depend on the availability of funds, grantee progress in meeting project goals and objectives, timely submission of required data and reports, and compliance with all terms and conditions of award.

Funding estimates for this announcement are based on an annualized Continuing Resolution and do not reflect the final FY 2014 appropriation. Applicants should be aware that funding amounts are subject to the availability of funds.

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