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DHS News Newsletter December 2004 

CCF Final Report demonstrates successes, highlights sustainability 

December 2004

For six years the Community Connections for Families (CCF) program has been organized and administered through the DHS Office of Behavioral Health (OBH), with the goal of providing a countywide “system of care” for children, ages 6 through 14, with serious emotional disturbance and their families.

Funding for the development of CCF came in part with a grant through the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. (SAMHSA)  The grant was awarded in October 1998 for six years.

CCF was originally implemented in five partner communities: the Hill District, East End, McKeesport, Sto-Rox and Wilkinsburg. As the program becomes a permanent part of OBH, it plans to expand to serve more communities throughout the County.

As CCF was a recipient of SAMHSA funding, federal site visits were required and conducted in the second, fourth and sixth years of the funding. In every review year CCF stood out among other system of care programs known to the review team. 

Throughout the six-year course of the federal funding, the program has maintained solid fidelity to its mission and goals, and to the mission, goals, values and principles of the federal program.

The final report verifies that the CCF program has indeed excelled in meeting and surpassing expectations regarding the five main principles of the program—community-based, individualized, strengths-based, family driven and culturally sensitive.

A countywide, community-based integrated system of care

During each site visit, the federal site-visit team visited all five community site offices and verified that they are currently in operation and functioning in accordance with the goals and objectives of the CCF program.

Individualization  

CCF described, during the year-two visit, their approach to individualization as a two part process. First, an individualized social, psychological and behavioral assessment is conducted.  Then, based on the assessment, an individualized integrated treatment plan is developed that supports the child’s strengths and makes services and resources available.  The year-four visit and the year-six visit showed this to be the continued practice carried out by the CCF program staff and their system of care partners in the five community offices of the grant program. 

Strength-based  

During the year-two visit, the CCF program indicated that the approach for developing service and treatment plans for children and adolescents served by the program is strength-based, utilizing the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool as a method for developing strength-based plans.  The site visit team observed in the case records and in practice during the year-four visit that CCF utilizes the strength-based approach with families and children.  This practice was emphasized again during the year-six visit, as family members in each of the five communities attested to the continued strength-based approach and practice of the CCF program.

Family Driven  

During the year-two visit, the CCF program demonstrated that the child’s plan for treatment and services is a part of a family plan—a formal written document developed within the child and family team process.  The year-four visit found that family involvement had improved at the system level and at the community level.  The site visit team observed during the year-six visit continued involvement and active participation by family members in all elements of system of care development and implementation the CCF program.

Culturally Sensitive  

During the year-four visit, the site visit team observed that the cultural competence plan was being implemented, and in fact, a cultural competence “program” was emerging.  During the year-six visit, the site visit team observed that the cultural competence plan was being actively implemented in each of the five partner communities, and the guidelines for monitoring cultural competence had been developed and implemented throughout the entire CCF program.

Report show positive outcomes for CCF consumers

The final report shows outcome data compiled by CCF over the first six years that demonstrates children who receive services from CCF are doing better in school and families are more stable.

Children are doing better in school

  • detentions decreased by 18 percent
  • out-of-school suspensions decreased by 12 percent
  • unexcused absences decreased by 8 percent
  • “A” and “B” grade-averages increased by more than 12 percent
  • completion of school-related tasks increased by 12 percent
  • creation of individualized education plans increased by 24 percent

Families are more stable 

  • the number of families accessing crisis services decreased by 4 percent;
  • the number of families in inpatient hospitalizations decreased by 2 percent;
  • stable living environments have increased by 9 percent; and
  • families have seen a significant reduction in “caregiver strain.”

Expanding in more than one direction

Not only does CCF plan to expand the system of care network into new communities, but the system of care in Allegheny County has already begun to expand its services to a new age group. The Partnership for Youth Transition (PYT) provides services similar to CCF to adolescents between the ages of 14 and 21. Such an expansion will be difficult and will require an incredible amount of dedication and cooperation between system of care staff and the communities they serve, but with the first six years of CCF to use as a model, it can and will happen—in Allegheny County as well as in other counties across the state. 

To view the Final Report for CCF, please visit the DHS Web site at http://www.county.allegheny.pa.us/dhs/BH/soc-9-30-04report.html 

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