Posted in: Madison Park
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June 7, 2024
Gov. Cooper speaks at the SUN Bucks event. Sec. Kinsley and other leaders stand in the background.

This week, Gov. Cooper hosted an event that included the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services Administrator, Cindy Long, NCDHHS and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), to celebrate the launch of SUN Bucks, a food assistance program to help feed more than 1 million North Carolina children this summer. 

Starting next week, eligible families will receive a one-time payment of $120 per child to purchase nutritious foods during the summer — a critical benefit for the 1 in 6 children in North Carolina who live in households without consistent access to food.

Most eligible children and families automatically qualify for the SUN Bucks program with no action needed to receive the $120 payment. Benefits will be issued beginning Friday, June 14. Families with children receiving food and nutrition services will see their SUN Bucks benefits loaded onto their existing EBT card, and all other children will receive a SUN Bucks card in the mail.  

NCDHHS will send an email or text message to families with children who do not automatically qualify but may be eligible for SUN Bucks with instructions about how to apply. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 31, 2024 for the 2024 summer period.
For more information, visit the updated SUN Bucks website and read the SUN Bucks frequently asked questions. Eligibility requirements are available in English and Spanish. To contact a SUN Bucks customer representative, families can dial 1-866-719-0141 and press option 2. To learn more about summer nutrition programs and to find summer meal sites in your area, visit NCDPI’s Summer Meals webpage

A lighthouse on the right side of the image shines its light to the left over the ocean, with an orange sunset in the background.
Suicide Prevention Resources
NCDHHS recently launched a Suicide Prevention Resources website with helpful information on suicide and crisis lifelines, suicide prevention action plans, and resources for you, your community and providers to help prevent suicide. Resources are grouped to easily identify services that meet the needs of North Carolina's diverse population, divided by age, sexuality, race, ethnicity and military status. Whether you are seeking assistance for yourself or someone else, or if you want to implement an initiative in your community or need guidance, the Suicide Prevention Resources are here to assist. Data sourcestoolkits and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center Best Practices Registry are all a part of the new website content. You are not alone. Call, text or chat 988 to access support from a trained crisis counselor. The lifeline is free, confidential and available 24/7.
Seven families doing activities like hugging, reading, kissing and smiling surround the words "North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services 2024-2026 Strategic Plan," along with green triangles in various shades.
DHHS Launches New Strategic Plan for 2024-2026
NCDHHS has launched its 2024-2026 Strategic Plan, which outlines its key priorities for the next two years. The plan is grounded in the department’s values and builds on its many successes, such as expanding Medicaid, launching the Division of Child and Family Well-Being and achieving national accreditation for the Division of Public Health. As a department, NCDHHS’ goal is a healthier state that meets the needs of all North Carolinians. Its commitment starts with concrete actions in five key areas: Advance Health by increasing opportunity and improving outcomes for people who face greater health and situational challenges; promote Child and Family Well-Being by making it easier to access the supports, programs and health care they need to thrive; champion Behavioral Health and Resilience through investments in coordinated systems of care and by reducing stigma around accessing these services; build a Strong and Inclusive Workforce that supports early learning, health and wellness across the state; and focus on Operational Excellence by streamlining processes and services to ensure efficiency and innovation. The department’s strategic plan offers strategies for each priority goal to help advance this crucial work.
Five people icons with speech bubbles above their heads.
Submit a Public Comment on the 2024-2029 Mental Health Strategic Plan
NCDHHS is seeking public comment on the draft 2024-2029 Strategic Plan for NCDHHS' Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services (MNH/DD/SUS), which shares the division’s mission, vision, guiding principles, priorities and goals for the next five years. Please share your feedback by completing the public comment form by July 1. The Draft 2024-2029 DMH/DD/SUS Strategic Plan was developed in collaboration with internal and external partners and has been previewed in many settings over the last six months, including the division’s monthly side-by-side webinars, meetings with the State Consumer and Family Advisory Committee (SCFAC) and discussions with providers and Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organizations (LME/MCOs). If you would like to learn more about the work within DMH/DD/SUS, please consider attending our side-by-side webinar, joining our advisory committees or signing up for our mailing list.    
Eight people smile around the words "inclusion works."
Inclusion Works Lunch and Learn
Join NCDHHS to learn about best practices to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and Traumatic Brain Injury on their path to achieving Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) on June 19 at noon. Each Lunch and Learn will cover a different topic related to the Inclusion Works initiative, which helps support individuals to find jobs in the community. These information sessions are led by NCDHHS staff and include time for a question-and-answer session with attendees. This month's webinar features workplace assistive technology and a demonstration of the Exploring Paths to CIE Guide. Join the June 19 webinar via Zoom. Previous Lunch and Learn presentations and recordings can be accessed on the Inclusion Works website
NCDHHS staff smile next to their tent at the Wilson pride event.
Pride Month Resources and Events
Gov. Cooper has proclaimed June LGBTQ+ Pride Month and NCDHHS joins the nation in celebrating our LGBTQ+ community. As we prepare for Pride celebrations through the fall, we want to alert Pride event organizers and attendees of available health resources to celebrate safely and protect their sexual health. Pride Month is celebrated nationwide each year in June, but events to celebrate Pride happen in NC through October. NCDHHS has developed a Pride Events and Resources website for pride event attendees and event organizers, including where to find mpox vaccines, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, PrEP and informative videos. Users can also find a list of 2024 Pride events and the Pride Resources page in Spanish. Go to the Take Pride Now webpage to learn more about protecting your sexual health.
Five children run through a grass field surrounded by trees.
Stay Safe During the Summer Heat
Gov. Cooper proclaimed last week Heat Awareness Week to raise awareness of the state’s continued climate warming trend and highlight newly available state resources to support local communities. Communities across the state are encouraged to prepare for high summer temperatures and the significant health risks residents and workers experience during hot weather, following the hottest summer on record globally in 2023. In April, the NCDHHS collaborated with the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency, the N.C. State Climate Office and Duke University Heat Policy Innovation Hub to launch a Heat Action Plan Toolkit with templates and protocols for communities to access during heat wave events. In May, DHHS' Climate and Health Program launched a statewide Heat Health Alert System to notify subscribers via emailed alerts when the heat index is expected to reach unhealthy levels in their county. The program also operates a Heat-Related Illness Surveillance System each year from May through September. Read the 2024 North Carolina Heat Awareness Week proclamation to learn more about the state’s unified efforts to address extreme heat and climate change impacts.

The words "DeafBlind Awareness Month" sit underneath hands signing and braille signifying the words.
June is DeafBlind Awareness Month
In an ongoing effort to encourage increased awareness, understanding and recognition of the many contributions made by DeafBlind North Carolinians, Gov. Cooper has proclaimed June 2024 as DeafBlind Awareness Month. DeafBlind refers to the approximately 84,000 people in North Carolina who have combined hearing and vision loss in various degrees. North Carolina encourages the full inclusion of people with multi-sensory disabilities in their communities, workplaces and recreational and entertainment spaces. The access and opportunities are made possible by the development of self-advocacy skills and effective use of resources that include adaptive technologies and support service providers (SSP) to assist DeafBlind individuals in navigating the world. DSDHH offers SSP training quarterly, educating them on the DeafBlind communication needs and methodology. Contact a DSDHH regional center near you to find out when the next training will occur.
A person sits at their desk with a pen in hand. There is a notebook and a laptop on the desk in front of them.
Side-by-Side Webinar with NCDHHS' Mental Health Division
Join staff from NCDHHS' Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services on July 1 at 2 p.m. to learn more about policies and programs that affect the Mental Health, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Substance Use Services and Traumatic Brain Injury community. The goal of these monthly webinars is to bring everyone together in one (virtual) place to share ideas for public policy that will improve the lives of North Carolinians. This group includes consumers, families, advisory groups, LME/MCOs, community members and partner organizations. Side by side, we will work together to improve our system. Register for the webinar on July 1 via Zoom and see a flyer for more information.  
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