The United States District Court of Idaho issued an order today approving the State of Idaho’s Implementation Plan in the long-standing lawsuit, Jeff D. v. Otter. The Implementation Plan outlines concrete steps Idaho will undertake in order to reform the state’s mental health system for children. Once fully implemented, an estimated 9,000 youth with serious emotional disorders could have improved access to community-based services as a result of Idaho’s Children’s Mental Health Reform Project.
Highlights from the Implementation Plan include:
- New Services Roll Out Starting as Early as 2017: Children who meet eligibility criteria under the terms of the Jeff D. Settlement Agreement will be entitled to a comprehensive array of community-based mental health services and supports. New and enhanced services will be made available across the state in a phased approach. New services will be added as early as 2017, beginning with the rollout of enhanced respite services and newly developed partial hospitalization.
- Common Assessment Tool Implemented Statewide: By January 2018, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) will begin using a new assessment process utilizing the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool. The CANS tool helps identify both the strengths as well as the needs of a young person, helping mental health providers leverage the youth’s assets and abilities in their own recovery. Idaho will implement the CANS tool statewide across several child-serving systems, allowing for better coordination of treatment planning and more efficient service delivery. More information about the CANS tool is available here.
- Implementing Child & Family Team Approach: DHW and community providers will use a new practice model for treatment planning and decision-making. Known as the Child and Family Team (CFT) approach, the model uses youth and family input as the driver in service planning, empowering them to take a more active role in their own treatment. The CFT approach also emphasizes a teaming process that brings together individuals invested in a child’s mental wellbeing to collaborate in developing a treatment plan and help coordinate service delivery.
More Good News from Idaho:
Idaho to Launch New Website for Children’s Mental Health TOMORROW
Tomorrow, DHW is expected to launch its newly developed website dedicated to the Idaho’s ongoing Children’s Mental Health Reform Project. The Youth Empowerment Services (YES) website will provide information about how to access children’s mental health services as well as offer resources for stakeholders interested in getting involved in implementation efforts.
The Youth Empowerment Services website will feature a “Frequently Asked Questions” handout for families, developed by DHW in collaboration with parent representatives. DHW is currently working on a similar resource tailored for mental health providers, which will be posted on the www.youthempowermentservices.idaho.gov website when complete.
Idaho Federation of Families Hosts Presentation on Jeff D. Implementation
Earlier this month, the Idaho Federation of Families hosted an in-depth panel presentation about the Jeff D. implementation process. The presentation featured Young Minds’ co-counsel Howard Belodoff as well as our stakeholder partners Jennifer Griffis, Chair of the Idaho Behavioral Health Planning Council, and Carol Dixon, Family Support Coordinator for the Idaho Federation of Families. A recording of the panel presentation is available here. Additional information about the Jeff D. Implementation is also available on the Idaho Federation of Families website.
The Gem State is a Model for Other States in Using a Coordinated System of Care
The Jeff D. Settlement is the most recent reform effort in which Young Minds’ attorneys have played a key leadership role in helping improve a state’s public mental health system for children. In addition to Idaho, Young Minds has served as plaintiffs’ co-counsel in class action lawsuits in California (Katie A.) and Washington (T.R.). Together, these lawsuits could make quality mental health services more accessible to tens of thousands of young people each year.
Among the ongoing reform efforts throughout the United States, Idaho is unique in its commitment to serving children using a coordinated system of care. Idaho’s Children’s Mental Health Reform Project includes partnerships with agencies across multiple child-serving systems, including mental health, Medicaid, juvenile justice, child welfare, and education. In order to develop this coordinated system of care, Idaho has committed to creating an interagency governance structure, utilizing a common assessment tool, and developing a shared quality improvement system, among other efforts.
Although still early in the implementation process, Young Minds applauds Idaho’s collaborative approach to improving the children’s system of care and hopes the Gem State can serve as a model to other public mental health systems in the future.