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by Nancy Steves

14th year of receiving funds used for students in four counties

Wed, Dec 12th 2018 04:00 pm

Catholic Charities of Buffalo was named recipient of a Fidelis Care Commmunity Grant in the amount of $413,000 for the 2018-2019 academic year. The funds support Catholic Charities’ In School Social Work Program currently in place at 14 Diocesan elementary and middle schools in four WNY counties. Pictured from left, Richard Suchan, executive director of The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo; Dennis Walczyk, CEO Catholic Charities; Scott Averill, vice president marketing, Fidelis Care; Matt McDonald, marketing manager, Fidelis Care and Jennifer Lyons, director of marketing, Fidelis Care

For the 14th consecutive year, Catholic Charities of Buffalo was named the recipient of a grant from Fidelis Care, the New York State Catholic Health Plan. The $413,000 grant supports Catholic Charities’ In-School Social Work Program (ISSWP) serving students, families and faculty at 14 Catholic Diocesan elementary and middle schools in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Erie and Niagara counties.

Through the grant, Catholic Charities is able to provide a part- or full-time social worker at each school with the focus on addressing non-academic barriers to a student’s success.

“Year after year, we see an increase in the number of students and families who need assistance. The In-School Social Work Program continues to be effective in eliminating high-risk behaviors which threaten student success and in helping to improve the academic achievement of students,” said Dennis Walczyk, Catholic Charities President and CEO. “It’s important to note that these services reach students and families in some of our community’s more vulnerable and lower income areas. We are grateful to Fidelis Care for their commitment and ongoing support of students.”

The ISSWP works to enhance student success by providing comprehensive character development and skill building activities for students through short-term individual sessions, small groups and classroom presentations. Consultation services are also available for parents, teachers and principals as well as staff development. If needed, referral to other Catholic Charities’ programs, including counseling, is available.

ISSWP currently serves  the following schools: Catholic Academy in Niagara Falls, DeSales Catholic School in Lockport, Immaculate Conception School in Wellsville, Notre Dame Academy in South Buffalo, Our Lady of Black Rock in Buffalo, Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, Queen of Heaven in West Seneca, Southern Tier Catholic School in Olean, St. Aloysius in Springville, St. Benedict School in Amherst, St. John the Baptist in Alden, St. John the Baptist in Tonawanda, St. Joseph University in Buffalo and St. Peter School in Lewiston.

“Catholic Charities is incredibly thankful for this collaboration with Fidelis Care. There is a beautiful relationship between Catholic Charities’ in-school social workers and the Catholic Schools they serve,” said Julie Lulek, MPH, Catholic Charities’ director of School Based Services. “The schools’ staffs welcome and passionately support the social workers in their schools, and in-turn, the social workers support the students, school staffs and families in the school community.  After 14 years of support from Fidelis, the In-School Social Work Program continues to see improved outcomes for the children and families in the identified, high-need schools.”

Approximately 2,675 students and their families — a 34 percent increase over the previous year — were impacted through the ISSWP during the 2017-2018 academic year.

For more information about the ISSWP, please call (716) 839-4066, ext. 5008, or visit

Fidelis Care is a mission-driven health plan offering quality, affordable coverage for children and adults of all ages and at all stages of life. With more than 1.7 million members Statewide, Fidelis Care believes that all New Yorkers should have access to affordable, quality health insurance.

As the most comprehensive human service provider in Western New York, Catholic Charities makes a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, health and productive lives. In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assesses clients for other needs to ensure long-term success.

Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions it receives. For six years, Catholic Charities attained the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives the highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service.

For more information about the organization and its programs and services, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to You can also find Catholic Charities on Facebook at, on Twitter at and on Instagram at