Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CBHI is a Process: Thoughts on a Systems of Care Meeting

Building the CBHI is a process, and the key to that process is the collaboration that will happen in the Systems of Care Committee meetings (times and dates for Worcester County are listed to the right)

Please note that this is my take on this meeting, and I bring my own biases and thoughts to this process. If you were there, and thought that I got something wrong, let me know and I will change it.

I went to a Systems of Care Committee meeting today. It was crowded in the Conference Room, with people from Worcester, Southbridge, Webster and Milford congregated in a room, to see how the South Central CSA is doing. It is a big district, stretching from Ware to Franklin across Massachusetts’ southern border with Eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island, and it is great that they were able to get this many people in one place. We introduced each other; there were parents, providers and even a school district represented at the table. Then we got down to business.

Initially, it was mundane; time and place of meeting, can we get phone access to the meeting, who else do we need to be here? The group is in the “forming” stage and we were all trying to understand what each of us are trying to do. The programs are in place, both emergency mobile services and intensive care coordination and family partners are up and running. Several community agencies (schools, practices, parents) expressed confusion about when to call the different types of services and asked for more guidance in organizing themselves to address the services. We also spoke of the upcoming “change in initials” for programs like FST, which is morphing into In-home behavioral health therapy. Change is hard, and at least part of it is that it is new.

The group was very interested in the process, and people had concrete suggestions for ways in which this can work. First was getting the information out: Make the literature more clear. Create multiple ways of disseminating the message. Clarify the roles that all of the players are clear as to their names, agencies and roles. Then was communication: There are overlapping roles with DCF, DMH, the school, the FST program have sometimes created logjams, with parents confused as to who is involved in various specific cases. All of this is complicated by the need for releases from the family to allow inter agency communication.

The South Central CSA got 60 referrals in the first month; they reported fewer referrals in August to date. Some of this reflected the level of staffing; the CSA is hiring the people and it is hard to find folks with the right skill set who are willing to travel as much as is required in this area. Some of this, however, reflects the culture of the area. Folk down here don’t like to air their family problems in public, and they don’t trust outsiders in their homes. It will take time to build trust, that this program is really going to be responsive to their needs and not to the needs of DCF or some other government agency. Finally, some of this reflects the newness of the program- people are going to need to hear about this program over and over again before the implications actually sink in.

So what is our vision? Collaborative care, creating a system that families can understand? We kicked it around for a while, but it came down to struggling with the central question of the CBHI: How do we fit this model of wraparound into the culture of South Worcester County? This group is actively engaged in that process. I hope that the other meetings are going as well.

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