Part of good science is tracking the outcomes of what you do.  Tracking provides good data about what’s effective and gives us the ability to intervene if something isn’t working.  Our Behavioral Health Division is very good at that.  Working through the contracts with the Regional Behavioral Health Authorities, we set standards they are required to meet to collect their fees.  A few years ago we set up a dashboard for us (and the public) to keep track of how well they are doing with services for adults and children.

When we measure the effectiveness of children’s services, you’ll see that we evaluate our contractors on several key indicators to ensure patient progress:

  • Has quality of life improved for the child?
  • Do the child and family have access to recovery and resiliency oriented services?
  • Are services provided based on the needs of the child and family?
  • Do the child and family get seamless behavioral and medical care coordination?

The Regional Behavioral Health Authorities that we contract with maintain a high level of involvement whenever a child needs services.  The more intense the needed services, the more involved the contractors are – so when you talk about children who have the highest need for substance abuse or mental illness and are living in a residential treatment facility, ADHS has very high requirements.

We require the Regional Behavioral Health Authorities to: 1) ensure admission criteria are met; 2) that they conduct ongoing reviews to ensure criteria for continued stay are met; and to 3) ensure that each child and family has an individualized treatment plan with specific measurable goals and interventions that is reviewed and updated frequently during the course of treatment.  

But keep in mind that residential treatment is limited for children.  We have a clear commitment to use community-based, sometimes called wrap-around, services. Studies show that wrap-around services are proven to help children make substantial improvements.  I’ll have more about the benefits of wrap-around services in my next blog.