A Virtual Partnership in Support of Qualified Individuals

The Families First legislation created the role of the Qualified Individual (QI) to serve as an independent gatekeeper for placement in Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP). Some states are expanding the roles of QIs to recommend levels of care and program referrals beyond QRTPs.

Logo of eQIp: A hiker looking at a Map, with text reading Alternative Pathways
eQIP - Alternative Pathways

Done well, the QI becomes an important source of independent advocacy to ensure that children, youth and families get access to the services and support that they need to thrive. However, done poorly, the QI can become just one more adult to whom children, youth and families must endure telling the worst parts of their story in order to get access to care. In these best cases, the QI helps ensure a person-centered system of care working efficiently on behalf of all children, youth and families. In these worst cases, it is possible for the QI sometimes to do more harm than good.

The structure of the QI process under the Families First legislation requires that the QI is independent from the system that is mandated to provide care for the children. This independence is crucial in that it reduces any perceptions of conflict of interest in deciding what care is in the best interest of any given child or youth. However, that same independence also can leave each individual QI alone in their work, without the necessary supports to meet the challenges of facilitating a process that must be simultaneously independent and collaborative. The potential isolation specific to the role of QI may be challenging for those who are committed to continual professional growth and improvement in their work with children and their families.

The Center for Innovation in Population Health at the University of Kentucky seeks to create a collaborative platform to assist QIs who are seeking peer support and professional development in their unique roles. eQIP provides QIs opportunities to convene, share, and learn from each other. By creating opportunities for networking and seminars for relevant professional development, the IPH Center hopes to provide an ongoing forum that helps participating QIs become optimally effective in their roles as advocates for the most appropriate care.

Picture of Dr. Bellonci smiling- with the title of the first especial event "In the Room Where it Happened: A Discussion of the development of FFPSA and the QI Role"
In the Room Where it Happened: A Discussion of the development of FFPSA and the QI Role

Join Dr. April Fernando and Dr. Christopher Bellonci for eQIP’s inaugural event, as they discuss the history and development of the Family First Preventative Service Act (FFPSA) and the potentially important role Qualified Individuals (QI) play in supporting children and families.  

Thursday, February 9th. 2023 

 3 PM (EST)

Our guest, Dr. Bellonci brings over 30 years of experience as a Board Certified Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist working directly with children and families in outpatient, inpatient and residential settings. He has consulted with state and federal child welfare and mental health agencies helping those agencies develop best practices and service systems to identify, prevent, treat and support children with behavioral health needs and their families. His expertise has led to Congressional testimony and recently advising the Senate Finance Committee regarding the Family First Prevention Services Act.

Dr. Bellonci is a leader in the field of children’s mental health best practices. He served on the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s (AACAP) Quality Issues Committee responsible for developing the field’s clinical practice guidelines defining best practices in treating behavioral health conditions. He also serves on AACAP’s Community-based Systems of Care Committee.

Dr. Bellonci is a past President of Association of Children’s Residential & Community Services (ACRC) and is a part of an International Work Group on Therapeutic Residential Care, and currently serves as an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Senior Policy Advisor at Judge Baker Children’s Center.

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