Antioch University of New England’s Center for Research on Psychological Practice (CROPP) was awarded a contract by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to oversee a $4 million dollar project to improve behavioral health outcomes for children and youth served by the agency.
The state was awarded a grant as part of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s program to implement systems of care across the country. Each of the federal agency’s 16 grants were awarded, for $1 million annually over the course of four years, to improve community-based services directed toward children and youth with serious emotional disturbances.
In New Hampshire, the DHHS will roll out its plan aimed at children who are at risk of out-of-home placement to streamline the process between agencies and systems. The proposal follows on the work done in a pilot program that the state had initiated in three geographic regions with help from a previous SAMHSA grant.
The CROPP center had been involved in the pilot program and helped the DHHS to write the grant proposal to continue the system of care program across the state. They were then asked to act as evaluators, a role for which the center’s staff feels they and their students are well-suited.
“The team consists of Ph.D. faculty members from the AUNE Department of Clinical Psychology along with four of our doctoral students,” says James M. Fauth, Ph.D., associate professor and director of CROPP, “This type of work is more relevant to and likely to be the kinds of roles our students might take up in the professional world; more applied, community-based rather than research-based.”
Fauth, along with George Tremblay, Ph.D., professor and director of research in the Department of Clinical Psychology, and students and staff from the CROPP center will make up the team to evaluate project infrastructure, performance and outcome indicators over the four-year period. The goal, says Fauth, is to provide constructive criticism rather than a pass/fail grade.
“Our role as evaluator is to help the stakeholders and the state, not to make judgment about whether the program is successful at the end but to provide information that helps them to learn about what they are doing, to make decisions about what they are doing and how to get better over time,” says Fauth.
As part of the evaluation, the team plans to involve youth and families on a peer support team and to serve on an evaluation advisory team as well as on the steering committee. The overall program began in September and will serve 20 children, youth and their families in the first year and expand over the four years to work with at least 80. The original plan will be to work with publicly-funded programs but to expand to include privately insured families as well.
The research center, first launched in 1996, was created to address educational aspects of doctoral training not regularly included in a professional psychology curriculum, especially those relevant to applied clinical research and evaluation skills. The center specializes in creating healthcare learning systems to improve mental health and wellness services in underserved and rural community settings.
By Catherine Robertson Souter