SAN RAFAEL -- Buckelew Programs and Family Service Agency of Marin, two major Marin nonprofits, today announced they will merge, making the agency a "major operating division" of the larger Buckelew organization.

The merger, effective March 1 pending state approvals, would create a stronger organization by combining the two nonprofit organizations to meet a wider spectrum of mental health needs, particularly in an era of health care reform, officials said. They don't expect layoffs or service reductions.

"Everyone wins with this merger," said Steve Ramsland, Buckelew executive director. "The consolidation of our organizations will result in better, more comprehensive services for people in our community, an administrative infrastructure more capable of managing growth and demonstrating impact, and a comprehensive behavioral health organization capable of thriving in the new health reform ecosystem.”

Serving Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties with an annual budget of $12 million, Buckelew is the 15th largest nonprofit in the North Bay, according to the 2011 Business Journal list of nonprofits. The addition of  Family Service Agency's annual budget of $2.3 million will make the combined organization the region's 11th largest such group.

Family Service Agency has about 45 regular employees and 35 graduate and postgraduate interns. It provides mental health services and substance abuse treatment and other services for some 4,500 children, adults and families.

Buckelew operates a number of employment and housing programs for people with mental illness, and employes about 180 people across the three counties. 

The new organization, which will consider a rebranding and a name change, will serve at least 7,000 people in its first year. Family Service Agency will keep its name for the first three years.

Further growth is expected through the Affordable Care Act and the state's coverage expansion, which will create some 17,000 newly eligible residents in Marin by 2014, the organizations said.