PPEER in Alabama Abstract: The Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) will lead Promoting Early Experiences and Relationships in Alabama: A Team-Based Approach (PPEER) to expand existing children's mental health (CMH) services across the state. The project will create a cohesive and sustainable infrastructure that results in measurable outcomes for children birth-12 years who are at risk for, or diagnosed with mental illness (MI), including severe emotional disturbance (SED), and their families. Project strategies and interventions will enhance the current workforce making it more effective and and accessible in areas where CMH service are limited or do not exist. A full continuum of interventions will combine comprehensive wrap-around services to children and families involved in the state's child welfare system that are relationship focused, linguistically and culturally sensitive, evidence-based, and trauma-informed. These services will be provided by Children's Mental Health Teams (CMHTs) spanning across promotion, prevention, and intervention of MI/SED. The project will initially occur in three pilot counties, Jackson, Jefferson, and Mobile, and then expanding to other counties in years 3-5.
The CMHTs for each county will consist of a regional Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant(IECMHC) from ADMH and at least one local mental health clinician trained in IECMH assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. For school-aged children, a school mental health service coordinator and a school-based mental health therapist will also be included on the CMHT. The CMHTs will collaborate across agencies and disciplines within target counties to coordinate integrative services leading to positive outcomes for infants, young children, and their families to alleviate, remediate, and decrease behavioral and social/emotional issues that interfere with healthy child development and parent/caregiving relationships.
A Project Director (PD) will develop community collaborations for identification and response to referrals for services and engage in data management and support. The PD will also oversee community workforce development, increasing the number of mental health clinicians with IECMH expertise in mental health shortage areas. A Project Coordinator (PC) will be added in Year 3 to continue developing the existing community collaborations and training while the PD oversees expansion of the project to other counties and continues to provide administrative oversight.
In the 3 initial counties the project will expand access to care for at least 25 children and families in Year 1, and 30 in Year 2. In Years 3-5 120 more children and families will be served in up to 3 additional counties identified through the needs assessment. In all, at least 175 children/families will receive coordinated and comprehensive support and mental health services over the grant's 5 years. At least 30 mental health clinicians across the state will be trained and rostered in Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), with two additional cohorts starting in years 3-5. Adding at least 30 CPP-rostered clinical MH providers will help us achieve our infrastructure goal of families in all 67 counties having access to a CPP-rostered MH provider. Finally, the project will train at least 100 professionals across child and family-serving system agencies in evidence-based practices, thereby improving access to dynamic wraparound services for vulnerable children and families across the state.