BRIEF HISTORY OF CETPA 1999-2016

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CETPA was established in 1999 by Pierluigi Mancini, Ph.D., MAC, NCAC II, CCS, to address a growing need for substance abuse and behavioral health services among the Latino population in Georgia. CETPA, which is an acronym for the Clinic for Education, Treatment and Prevention of Addiction, Inc., is the first, and still only, Latino agency to earn a license by the Georgia Department of Community Health – Healthcare Facility Regulation and the only Latino agency in Georgia to earn national accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) to provide behavioral health treatment and prevention services in English and/or Spanish.

CETPA’s mission is to provide evidence-based, culturally and linguistically appropriate substance abuse, mental health counseling and prevention services with priority to the Latino community. CETPA’s services can be best described in three sections: Prevention, Intervention and Direct Clinical Services or Treatment.

A success story like CETPA does not happen without a few people whose dedication, commitment and ‘sweat, blood and tears’ to make it possible. Norma Zúñiga-Cardoza, CETPA’s Chief Operating Officer joined Dr. Mancini in 2001; Elhy Solis, Director of Human Resources came in 2004; Michelle Baroni, Prevention Clubhouse Director and Jennifer Parker, Senior Billing Specialist in 2006.

CETPA started as a Spanish language substance abuse program for adults, providing intensive outpatient services in Doraville, Gainesville and Sandy Springs, Georgia.

In 2000 Dr. Mancini began our prevention initiatives through a ‘before-school’ prevention programs for Latino youth at Sequoyah Middle School in Doraville, Georgia. This program gave birth to our very successful ‘Soy Unica Soy Latina’ and “Niño Sano Hombre Fuerte’ after school programs. For ten years these programs reached thousands of Latino youth by providing them with protective factors and academic support to achieve success. Today, our prevention programs reach thousands of invididuals and families bringing them cultural and linguistically appropriate prevention programs addressing underage drinking, prescription drug prevention, suicide prevention, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C prevention, after-school programs and a prevention clubhouse.

In 2002 through a grant from Fulton County, CETPA began serving a limited number of Spanish speaking adults who were suffering from mental illness. By 2005 our adult mental health program had surpassed our substance abuse program in numbers of people served.

In 2003 we began operations in Norcross with Georgia’s first Latino youth substance abuse program.

In 2007 when the state took funding for children services from Grant-In-Aid to Fee-for-Service we consolidated operations to the Gwinnett campus. At this time our program was also released form any previous geographic restrictions and we could serve individuals from any county. We also began our investment in children services. Today our children and adolescent program accounts for half of all clinical services provided.

In 2011 we received our first federal grant for adolescent substance abuse services. Also in 2011 we received our first grant to introduce tele-counseling to our community. Both of these grants were successful and in 2016 we received our second grant for tele-counseling services.

In 2015 we opened our first two School Based Mental Health Programs by installing a licensed bilingual clinician and a paraprofessional at two elementary schools in Norcross to provide direct clinical services to children and their families and support to school administrators, staff and the community at large in English and in Spanish.

Our direct clinical services provide evaluations and assessments for mental health and substance use disorders, psychiatric services; psychological services; tele-counseling; play therapy; individual, family and group counseling; nursing services and medication management.

Our Intervention services provide recovery support services to Latino adolescents struggling with substance abuse, education and legal challenges by offering tutoring, counseling, life skills and healthy activities. The goal is to help youth become drug free, eliminate involvement with juvenile justice, finish high school and go to college or enter the workforce.

CETPA currently has 70 employees – about 10 of whom are coordinators of programs and countless volunteers across the state.

Pierluigi has been able to secure funding for CETPA’s services beginning with his own savings in 1999 to our current operating budget of $4.5 million to provide services to the Latino community.

In 1999 we served 65 adult substance abuse clients. In 2016, CETPA served nearly 14,000 adult, children and youth residents from 5 regional locations throughout the state – offering mental health and substance abuse prevention, intervention and other direct services.

Out of those figures, specifically to clinical services, CETPA evaluates about 1,500 clients annually but can only admit about 700 to 800 of them due to capacity issues. More than 95% of the clients we serve are Hispanic or of Hispanic descent. We currently offer full mental health and substance abuse services at our Gwinnett County location in the city of Norcross, Georgia.

We also offer the following prevention programs – our Latino youth afterschool and summer enrichment Clubhouse; our prescription medication prevention program called GEN RX; an HIV & Hepatitis C Prevention program called ¡Vida Life!, and a nutrition education and SNAP enrollment program called “Comprando Rico & Sano.” All of our prevention efforts are delivered in English and in Spanish in order to meet the linguistic diversity of our community.

Our staff makeup the largest number of licensed bi-lingual workforce in the state many of them we have nurtured through their college years, offered part time jobs, invited them to serve their internship at CETPA and hired them before they graduated. We have slowly become a teaching facility training social workers, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists. We have expanded to offering services in Portuguese through our three Portuguese speaking clinicians.

In 2013 we began our Psychology practicum program and hosted two students. Our goal is to become Georgia’s first bilingual APA clinical site for internships within the next three years.

We are also successfully hosted our first bilingual Psychiatric Resident from Morehouse School of Medicine this spring.

CETPA also has the only bilingual Psychiatric Physician Assistant in the State of Georgia.

CETPA operates in one of the most diverse states in the country and we are proud to have built a reputation as a place where the growing Latino community and especially our immigrant community can find support as they navigate our complex environment.

CETPA’s core values we are committed to upholding as an agency are :

  • People and Leadership
  • Education and Training
  • Privacy and Dignity
  • Accessible Treatment
  • Exemplary Prevention
  • Diversity and Individuality
  • Rigorous Self-Evaluation
  • Partnership & Collaboration

We continue to be a leading provider of behavioral health services in the state and have achieved local and national recognition receiving the following awards:

  • 2016 – EMMY Award –Documentary – “Prescribed Drugs, Legally Dangerous”.
  • 2016 – Award for Excellence in Treatment Centers & Recovery Services ABACBGA 2015 – Healthcare Champion for Mental
  • Health and Wellness Award – The Fulton DeKalb Hospital Authority.
  • 2014 – Star Vega Distinguished Service Award – to recognize and honor a psychologist who has distinguished him or herself through service to the Latina/Latino community. National Latina/Latino Psychological Association.
  • 2014 – Ray Avant Excellence in Prevention Award – Georgia DBHDD Office of Prevention Services and Programs
  • 2014 – EMMY Award – Documentary “Alcohol: The Unknown Drug”.
  • 2014 – Helen Rodríguez-Trías Award for Health, National Council of La Raza, Washington, DC
  • 2012 – EMMY Award – Television Programming Excellence: Public/ Current/ Community Affairs: “Nuestra Georgia: Suicide Prevention Special,”
  • 2012 – EMMY Award – Television Spot Announcements Excellence: Community/ Public Service (PSA)- Single Spot and Campaign: “CETPA – Underage Drinking”
  • 2011 – The ARC of Georgia Plane Pull – Team Award
  • 2010 – Kidsnet Georgia Academy III – SOC – Individual Partner Award
  • 2009 – Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia – Salud Hispana Award
  • 2008 – NAACP – Health Services Award
  • 2008 – Georgia School of Addiction Studies – Excellence in Treatment Award
  • 2007- Mental Health America “Heroes in the Fight” – Allied Health Professional
  • 2007 – Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – Businessman of the Year
  • 2003 – SAMHSA – Award for Excellence – Latino Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Program
  • 2002 – Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – Special Recognition Award