Background and Project Overview
In 2013, The Children’s Bureau awarded Kentucky a grant to enhance access to behavioral health services for children in the custody of the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) and placed in out of home care (OOHC). This grant is a five-year cooperative agreement between the University of Louisville (U of L), DCBS, the Department for Behavioral Health and Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (DBHDID), Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and Kentucky Partnerships for Families and Children (KPFC). Each partnering agency serves a different role in the implementation of Project SAFESPACE. The grant is led by U of L which also employs project staff and handles the evaluation. DCBS and DBHDID work in collaboration to support the child welfare staff and the behavioral health providers who complete the screeners and assessments (CANS), respectively. EKU coordinates the training for child welfare staff, and KPFC maintains the voice of our families and youth at the forefront of the project as we work through implementation.
This project carries the acronym of SAFESPACE, which stands for Screening and Assessment For Enhanced Service Provision to All Children Everyday. The project contains three primary components. The first is the administration of a screener by the child welfare staff early in the OOHC case. This screener serves several purposes within the project. First, it identifies behavioral health needs quickly within the service population. In addition, it provides guidance to the worker about who needs to come to the attention of a behavioral health provider in an expedited manner, and offers additional information to inform assessment and treatment decisions. Finally, the screener serves as an engagement tool for use with caregivers of origin and foster parents. Early screening is designed to reduce or eliminate delays in connecting children to behavioral health providers in a proactive manner, thereby creating a less reactionary system.
The second part of the project falls to the responsibility of the behavioral health provider. The provider administers the CANS to children within the first thirty days after receipt of the DCBS referral. In addition, these children receive expedient attention by the provider community since the expectation is they receive an appointment within seven days of the referral, similar to the time frame guidelines utilized for hospital discharges. The CANS supplements and guides the providers’ currently required assessments, serving to capture and organize the information gathered. The provider completes an assessment update every 90 days to monitor the client’s progress over time.
The final component of the project focuses on collaboration and information sharing between agencies. The providers complete and submit the CANS Assessment Report to the DCBS worker as a means of communicating strengths and needs identified from the assessment, along with the client’s diagnoses, the recommended treatment and a rationale for their treatment recommendations. Once the worker receives this, the worker utilizes this information to engage the caregivers further around the need for treatment and how the child’s needs influences his care, and incorporates these recommendations into their case plan for the child and family. As a result, the child’s System of Care communicates more effectively and efficiently to serve the child’s needs, and allow for effective and streamlined collaboration utilizing a common vision and common language.
This overview of Project SAFESPACE is provided by Dorothy Hickerson. Part 2 (11/17/2017) of this post will discuss challenges and successes of implementation along with goals to better serve children, youth, and families in Kentucky.