Paul G. Allen Foundation (June 2007 – June 2009)
Principal Investigator: Trupin, Eric
Co-Investigators: Dorsey, Shannon; Kerns, Suzanne; Bruns, Eric
Problem: Youth living in foster care experience disproportionately high rates of mental health problems compared to other youth. Yet, research shows that many youth in foster care do not receive mental health treatment, or receive treatment that may not be effective.
Goal: Improve outcomes for youth in foster care by increasing referral and access to appropriate, evidence-based mental health services tailored to meet specific mental health needs.
Summary: Project Focus, a study funded by the Paul G. Allen Foundation, is being implemented by the Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy (PBHJP), in partnership with the Children’s Administration of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). The project focuses on improving mental health clinicians’ and Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) caseworkers’ knowledge and utilization of evidence-based practices (EBP) by providing training and consultation to both groups and increasing the coordination of care. Caseworkers receive training from clinical psychologists in:
To increase community capacity for providing evidence-based treatments, Project Focus will also involve training and consultation for community clinicians who serve youth in foster care.
This project is closely aligned with the Washington State Legislature’s HB 1088 (establishing the Evidence-based Practice Institute), and the Braam Oversight Panel recommendations to implement best practices for youth in the foster care system.
The University of Washington will evaluate a training and implementation model to assess the effectiveness of this project. Four DCFS offices will be involved in the project: Two offices will receive training and project implementation immediately, with the other two offices serving as ‘wait list control sites,’ (will receive delayed implementation). Desired outcomes include increased knowledge and capabilities among DCFS staff and mental health clinicians, increased referrals to and provision of EBPs, and improved outcomes for youth (e.g., improved functioning, placement stability).
Relevance: Project Focus will provide information on how to best work with child welfare and mental health to better meet the mental health needs of youth in foster care.
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 Landsverk, J. A., Burns, B. J., Stambaugh, L. F., & Reutz, R. (2006). Mental health care for children and adolescents in foster care: Review of research literature. Report prepared for Casey Family Programs.