Authors Posts by Sarah Eyster

Sarah Eyster

Ms. Eyster represents the association at state-level meetings and serves as staff liaison to the Mental Health Committee. She is responsible for member communication of, and the analysis of, Department of Human Services and other key policy decisions.

Sponsor, Exhibit, and Advertise at Hybrid Conference in Hershey with RCPA, Maryland Community Behavioral Health, and The Ability Network of Delaware: Leading the Way: Hoping, Healing, Helping

Join RCPA, MDCBH, and A.N.D. as we host the 2021 Conference September 22–October 1 at the Hershey Lodge in PA. Our collective staff, as well as the Conference Committee, are excited to release this year’s Sponsors, Exhibitors, and Advertisers Brochure, with new opportunities to get involved and be visible.

New this year is the option to join either the hybrid or the virtual-only event. Also available this year is exhibit booth self-selection. Sponsors who would also like to exhibit on-site will be given first choice; exhibitors who submit their contract and payment by July 16 will be given second choice.

Don’t miss your chance to be seen and to support the work of these dynamic organizations! The event is a highlight for the Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware mental health, intellectual disability, medical rehabilitation, brain injury, vocational rehabilitation, children’s, aging/physical disabilities, and drug and alcohol provider communities. Complete information about exhibiting, sponsoring, and advertising options are available from the link above.

Sponsor, Exhibit, and Advertise
Exhibit activities take place September 29–30. RCPA encourages all interested parties to complete the contract now! Events within Connections Hall include an opening reception, breakfast, coffee breaks, lunch, and prize giveaways. Exhibit hours occur during the two busiest days of the conference, increasing the likelihood that exhibitors — an integral component to conference success — have the opportunity to interact with attendees. A “Best of Show” competition provides even more prospects to engage guests. Winners receive a discount on 2022 exhibit rates.

Interaction with conference guests outside of Connections Hall is just as important! Participating in other conference events such as receptions, meals, and educational offerings provides exhibitors with greater potential and flexibility to establish new opportunities for business.

Exciting Sponsorship Opportunities
Our associations are privileged to include the finest organizations in the field for this conference. Within each sponsorship circle, specific events and items such as meals, receptions, conference tote bags, attendee materials, entertainment, charging station, etc. are available, providing additional “naming recognition” for sponsors. Sponsorships may be shared. Please contact Sarah Eyster to reserve your opportunity.

Sign Up Now
The deadline for inclusion in all digital material is August 30. Sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers who wish to be listed on the website and the virtual platform must adhere to that timeline.

Our associations look forward to welcoming you at the conference! Space and opportunities are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis and no reservation is considered complete without payment. If questions remain, please contact Sarah Eyster, Conference Coordinator.

Your action is needed. Our lawmakers need to hear directly from the people and families who depend on county-based mental health services. A sample letter that can be copied and customized is included below for your use. Please contact your State Senator or State Representative to ensure $28M for county-based mental health services is included in the FY 2021–22 budget.

Dear Representative/Senator [Last Name of State Representative/Senator]:

Without more robust funding and support in FY 2021–22 budget for county-based mental health services, we face a tsunami of unmet needs. As indicated by numerous legislatively-mandated studies in Pennsylvania, the county-based mental health system is in crisis.

County-based mental health services provide access to critical supports not covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and/or private insurance. These include residential programs, supportive housing, employment services, case management, and psychiatric rehabilitation. These key offerings help individuals receive the right services at the right time to maximize their chance of recovery. They also reduce more costly interventions (i.e. incarceration, emergency room visits, courts, and inpatient care).

Over the past decade, state funding for county-based mental health has remained flat. That level funding, coupled with the impact of annual inflation, is having a devastating impact on the ability of counties to sustain these services. The crisis is now compounded with new demands for mental health services related to the pandemic.

Our organization, [Organization Name], is a member of the Coalition for the Mental Health Safety Net, which has joined together from across the Commonwealth to speak in a single voice. In the next 6–12 months, 74% of county-based mental health administrators expect calls to increase, or they are anticipating delays of up to six weeks for services such as community residential services. Additionally, there has been a 17.2% increase in hospitalizations for mental health conditions since Fiscal Year 2012–13.

Thank you for supporting the additional $28M requested in this letter. Please contact me with any questions.

Your Constituent,
[Insert Name]

Contact Sarah Eyster if you have any questions.

The RCPA Annual Conference Committee and staff are excited to announce that this year’s annual conference will be a hybrid event. We will be combining both in-person and virtual experiences; therefore, the conference will be held at the Hershey Lodge September 28 – October 1 for you to attend in person, virtually, or a combination of the two. Our partnerships with the Maryland and Delaware associations, Maryland Community Behavioral Health (MDCBH) and the Abilities Network of Delaware (A.N.D.), are going to further enhance the conference experience.

RCPA and the Hershey Lodge are able to ensure that a full and safe conference will be offered in person for those who would like to attend, as well as virtual for those who prefer to participate remotely. Hershey, like most event centers, have HVAC systems and cleaning protocols in place that meet the highest standards.

We look forward to seeing you September 28 in Hershey or via the conference virtual platform! Check the conference website, which will be updated regularly, for future developments.

The June 11 meeting of the Coalition for the Mental Health Safety Net is being rescheduled to Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at 1:00 pm–2:30 pm. You can register for the meeting here. If you had already registered for the June 11 meeting, you do not need to register again for the July 14 meeting.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Sarah Eyster.

RCPA would like to congratulate Lisa Ferris, CEO of Fayette County Behavioral Health Administration and Barbara Durkin, Director of Lackawanna/Susquehanna Drug and Alcohol Programs.

A message from OMHSAS:

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) is happy to announce the winners of the 2020 and 2021 Dennis Marion Impact Award via this video presentation. The 2020 award was delayed by the pandemic; however, we want to make sure we acknowledge the efforts of all awardees.

  • The 2020 recipient is Ms. Lisa A. Ferris, Chief Executive Officer for the Fayette County Behavioral Health Administration.
  • The 2021 recipient is Ms. Barbara E. Durkin, Director of Lackawanna/Susquehanna Drug & Alcohol Programs.

The Dennis Marion Impact Award recognizes local and state government employees in Pennsylvania whose initiatives, processes, and projects have led to significant improvements in Pennsylvania’s behavioral health service delivery system.

Just like Dennis, the 2020 and 2021 recipients have demonstrated strong leadership, passion for public service, and commitment to the people they serve. Their contributions bridge disparate missions and push toward the single goal of excellence in public service.

Please join us in recognizing these outstanding individuals and the impact they have had on behavioral health in Pennsylvania.

On May 25, the Coalition for the Mental Health Safety Net emailed this message to Pennsylvania Legislators and their Chiefs of Staff. The next steps are critical and we are asking your employees to contact local representatives. For outreach to your legislator, please see below:

  • Make sure that you received and read the Coalition email sent on May 25
  • Set a meeting to discuss the white paper contents

The Coalition is in need of 3–5 minute videos from people and families who have or use services. These can be done using a cell phone but time is of the essence; we need five videos by June 4. The suggested questions for the interviews/recordings are as follows:

  • Where are you from (county)?
  • How did you get involved with community mental health services?
  • What is your experience with community mental health services?
  • Where are you now (county)?
  • Optional ~ what do you think would improve your experience with community mental health services?

Contact Sarah Eyster if you can send videos by June 4. The next Coalition meeting is Friday, June 11, 2021; register here to participate.

The Coalition for the Mental Health Safety Net will be sending the final white paper to legislators and their staff tomorrow. A final document with the email and next steps will be sent to RCPA members and Pennsylvania stakeholders on Wednesday.

The coalition will meet as a full group on Friday, June 11, 2021 at 10:00 am. Please review the agenda and join colleagues as the coalition moves forward with calls and meetings with legislators and staff.

A message from the Department of Human Services:

The department made the difficult decision to cancel, pause, and reassess the emergency procurement for the RISE PA tool in its current form.

The decision was based on multiple factors, but the goal of the cancellation is to ensure that RISE PA has a sustainable path forward. Under an emergency procurement, the scope and length of the program would require modifications that impair our service delivery model and the extensive work done to date. Our motivations behind this decision are sustaining the tool and its intention to serve our clients and achieving our goal of improving coordination and quality of care over the long term for the people we serve.

If RISE PA is to be a sustainable, successful tool to help Pennsylvanians, providers, partners, and stakeholders, it is necessary to take this pause for a thorough review and determination of the right path forward.

The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) is pleased to announce the following funding opportunity available to non-profit organizations serving Pennsylvania residents and their families with mental health, substance use, and/or behavioral health needs.


The Department of Human Services has posted the following Solicitation RFA 16-21 for support to individuals with lived experience and their families by funding organizations that provide prevention, intervention, and treatment services throughout Pennsylvania and locally in their communities. To achieve this goal, DHS is providing multiple awards of up to $500,000 for the 2021–22 state fiscal year on eMarketplace. Please visit the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s eMarketplace for more details.


If you have questions regarding this RFA, you must submit the questions by email (with the subject line “RFA 16-21 Question”) to the Resource Account no later than the date stated in the Calendar of Events. DHS will post all questions and written answers on the Department of General Services (DGS) website as an addendum, which shall become part of the RFA.


DHS looks forward to reviewing your proposals and partnering with organizations to strengthen the behavioral health system and improve the well-being of Pennsylvanians.