ABSTACT: Connecticut Supporting Transition Age Youth with Seamless Transitions and Recovery Opportunities through Network Growth (CT STAY STRONG)
The Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS), in collaboration with the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), proposes to implement an initiative called CT Supporting Transition Age Youth with Seamless Transitions and Recovery Opportunities through Network Growth (STAY STRONG) across two (2) municipalities with the goal of providing age and developmentally appropriate, culturally and linguistically competent services and supports to youth between the ages of 16-25 who have SMI/SED in order to improve their emotional and behavioral health, reduce the likelihood of future disability and increase their skills for a successful transition to adulthood. This will be accomplished by providing screening, outreach, engagement, referrals to and provision of evidenced based treatment, coordination of care with the individual and across systems, and increasing awareness regarding mental health issues and services. In order to be successful we will collaborate with other community organizations and state agencies, utilize social media, provide training to providers and outreach to youth, families and young adults. It is anticipated that each team will serve an average of 50 youth and young adults/families per year. As a result, a total of 100 youth/young adults/families would be served each year for a total of 500 individuals/families over 5 years. CT is uniquely well positioned to implement this project. Since 1998, DMHAS and DCF have collaborated in identifying, screening, engaging and transitioning the most acute, high risk cohort of young adults with SMI/SED between the ages of 18-25 from the child welfare system (DCF) to the adult service system (DMHAS) Young Adult Services program (YAS). Recognizing that early engagement and intervention with young people experiencing behavioral health problems can reduce the likelihood of future disability, increase the potential for productive adulthood and avoid life-long service needs, the two agencies established an MOA that included a policy and procedures for screening, eligibility, transition and admission to DMHAS YAS in order to insure that these youth would not “fall through the cracks.” CT STAY STRONG will also design and implement systems-level changes to eliminate gaps between the child and adult systems, by ensuring that staff and programming are attuned to the issues that may arise during this transition; that staff have the knowledge necessary to assist the youth in navigating any issues that arise, and that services follow the youth from the point of exiting children’s services to entering adult services. Those who participate in the program are expected to have improved rates of service engagement, access to culturally and linguistically competent, age and developmentally appropriate trauma informed services and to show better outcomes with respect to housing stability, life skills acquisition, emotional and behavioral health, education, and employment.