Q&A with Steven Bulger

By David Podos

CEO of ICAN discusses how the nonprofit helps families stay together — it works with adults and children who have service needs 

Q: I understand that ICAN (Integrative Community Alternatives Network) has many programs available. What are some of your main services?

A: The agency presently offers more than 20 programs. One of our flagship services is to offer in-home care through intensive supports to families and their children where the kids are at risk for out-of-home placement because of behavioral and or mental health reasons. So, for example, we wrap services around those families be it mentoring and behavioral health management, psychiatry or individual therapy. We actually provide more than 50 services in just that one program alone to help prevent a family’s child from going out of home care, keeping them home, and to be successful.

Q: Why is it so important to treat a child at home rather than for instance at a child rehab center?

A: All the research shows, from the late 1990s to today, that kids receive the best quality of care and have the best long-term outcomes when they are being provided services at home and in their community. So, if we as an agency can bring everything to them that they would receive in a residential setting allowing them not only to stay in their homes, but allowing them to stay in their communities, stay in their school system, be on a sports team, be with their peers, that is a win-win situation for them, their families and the community as a whole.

Q: Is this model of home service delivery that you provide for children offered to your adult clientele as well?

A: Actually, yes, we do have a similar model, and that is through our adult health/home care management program. These clients, like our kids we serve at home, are also in need of mental health and behavioral health interventions and treatment.

Q: How many members do you have?

A: We changed a bit on that. We used to be only a membership-driven organization. We still have some paying members who are primarily local Jewish families who have supported the center for years. But now we are a pay-as-you- go center for services/programs rendered. For instance, one of our big sources of income is our pre-school program. We have other sources of income from people renting our gym for basketball or volleyball. We have an auditorium that is available to the public for rental use from birthday parties to live musical events and so forth.

Q: What other care needs do you see in your adult program that has to be addressed?

A: Many of our adult clients have co-occurring needs such as physical health issues, as well as support for drug addiction for example. So we seek out and provide the best services for them for those issues. Like our kids’ program, we strive to get our adult clients the best care possible, using wrap-around services this way we can do our best to keep them out of un-necessary psychiatric hospitalizations, and or emergency room usage, basically just allowing them to stay at home with their loved ones during their recovery.

Q: Even though statistics show that teen pregnancy has been on the decline for the past several decades, America still has the highest teen pregnancy rates among all other developed nations. Does ICAN offer any programs that deal directly with this problem?

A: n 2013 the Family Nurturing Center here in Utica was offering phenomenal services including addressing the problems of teen pregnancy. We had the opportunity to bring all their employees as well as their services and programs over to the ICAN umbrella so now we can offer help in that area. One of our programs that works with young mothers is called Healthy Families. We work with the family and the young mother who is either expecting or recently had a newborn. We help them with any skills they might need to assist them to become the most productive parent possible.

In regards to teen pregnancy, we are very proud to have a program called Evelyn’s House. That program is a home for pregnant and or parenting teen moms and their babies. So, we have this wonderful place for young mothers who may not have a place to go to, they may be homeless or on the verge of homelessness, they can come and stay at Evelyn’s house where we will provide a roof over their heads, making sure they are receiving all the needed prenatal care and all the nutrition for their baby.

Q: How many staff does ICAN employ?

A:  We currently have 190 staff, which is a mix of full-time as well as part-time employees. In addition, we have a sub-contractor provider network of behavioral health professionals. There are 250 health care professionals in that network which can provide us, (our clients) with direct care.

Q: What is your annual operational budget for 2022?

A:  Our budget for 2022 is just over $20 million.

Q: Where does ICAN receive its funding from?

A:  We have a number of different revenue sources. First, we are very fortunate to receive funding from each county that we provide our services, which includes Oneida, Herkimer and Otsego counties. We also have state as well as federal dollars that support us, along with Medicaid funded services, and a number of insurance reimbursements.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge?

A:  Keeping up with the high demand for our services.

Q: What number can people call to get more information and what is your website?

A: Our phone number is 315 -792-9039. Website is ICAN.family

To learn more  visit ICAN.family or call 315 -792-9039.