Creating Connections

Principal Investigator: 
Suzanne Kerns, Ph.D.
Funding Source: 
Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau
Project Period: 
9/30/12-9/29/2017
PBHJP Project Faculty and Staff: 
Lucy
Berliner
Director of Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress, Clinical Associate Professor
Andrea
Negrete
Research Coordinator
Michael
Pullmann
Research Assistant Professor
Eric
Trupin
Director and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Andie
Uomoto
Research Study Assistant
Suzanne
Kerns
Assistant Professor
Collaborators: 
Barbara Putnam, MSW, LCSW, Co-PI, WA State DSHS, Children’s Administration, State Project Lead
Jeanette Barnes, WA State DSHS, Behavioral Health and Service Integration Administration, Partner Staff
Jessica Bayne, WA State DSHS, Behavioral Health and Service Integration Administration, Partner Staff
LaRessa Fourre, MA, WA State DSHS, Behavioral Health and Service Integration Administration, Partner Staff
Barbara Lucenko, PhD, WA State DSHS, Division of Research and Data Analysis, Partner Staff
Dae Shogren, MPA, Co-Investigator, WA State DSHS, Children’s Administration, Partner Staff
Ellen Silverman, RN, PhD, WA State Department of Health, Partner Staff
Joe Avalos, MA, Co-PI, WA State DSHS, Behavioral Health and Service Integration Administration, State Project Lead
Naomi Perry, MSW, Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress, Partner Staff
Laura Merchant, LICSW, Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress, Partner Staff
Project Summary: 

The project aims to enhance the safety, permanency and wellbeing of children and youth in foster care, ages three to seventeen years, by facilitating effective linkages to appropriate and research-based mental health services (i.e., evidence-based practices; EBPs). The emphasis will be on areas of wellbeing and family functioning intrinsic to the achievement of safety and timely permanency for children placed out-of-home. While some children and youth currently in the foster care system and those who have been adopted experience mental health problems (including the emotional and behavioral consequences of trauma exposure) at higher rates than the general population, they are significantly less likely to be linked with EBPs. Left untreated or ineffectually treated, these emotional, behavioral, and functional problems may compromise case planning efforts, length to permanency, and adoption success. However, merely increasing the capacity to deliver EBPs is not sufficient to create a responsive system that ensures children and youth receive the intended services. Establishing an efficient cross-system infrastructure to bridge initial screening and ongoing functional assessments to needed EBPs is critical to effectively link children, youth and families to effective services. 
 

Public Health Relevance: 

Mental and behavioral disorders make up a growing percentage of the disease burden for children, youth, and adults in the United States. The project will incorporate mental and behavioral health into the framework of key child welfare outcomes; safety, permanency, and well-being.  By improving the sensitivity and specificity of mental and behavioral health screening practices for children and youth entering foster care, as well as improving the effectiveness and efficiency of mental and behavioral health treatment, the project has the potential to enhance resilience and prevent thousands of children and youth in foster care from developing serious mental and behavioral health disorders that could affect them throughout their lives.  

Behavioral Health and Child Welfare