Recent System Improvement Update

Advancing Behavioral Health for Maine Children

Update: May 9, 2019

The Office of Child and Family Services has engaged with partners, including the Public Consulting Group (PCG), to evaluate and pursue recommendations for improvements within the children’s behavioral health system (CBHS). Included in that work was the development of a report addressing internal CBHS operations at the Department, which is the result, in part, of the feedback from OCFS staff provided to PCG. Today, we are releasing that report to provide additional information regarding the recommendations. //www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/cbhs/index.shtml

The report underscores the need for the Department to work strategically to improve the system of care for children in need of behavioral health services. Improving this system will require transparency, collaboration, creative thinking from a variety of perspectives, and commitment from all areas within the system of care.

The internal report contains three core recommendations:

  • Development of a strategic plan for the CBHS team at OCFS that would define the purpose of CBHS within the larger system of care, establish realistic goals and objectives, create a timeline for implementation, and develop a sense of collaborative ownership towards meeting goals and objectives. This would include consideration of how use of contracted entities has changed the role of CBHS staff, and require the Department to create clarity and understanding regarding the role of CBHS staff going forward.
  • Clarification of the responsibilities of existing CBHS staff and consideration as to whether additional roles are needed. This would include a review of the existing CBHS structure to understand the workload demands on current staff, shadowing of CBHS staff to better understand the various roles, and conducting a review of the existing job duties to update responsibilities and titles. This review would also include the identification of gaps in staffing and development of strategies to address them.
  • Development of procedures, policies, and practices within the CBHS system of care to meet the needs of CBHS stakeholders and improve data collection to ensure the Department can make data-informed decisions; clarity within the procedures for each role on the CBHS team to ensure institutional knowledge-sharing; and creation of a team that participates in the development of procedures and practices to ensure improvements have long-term sustainability, with a focus on outcomes and results.

The primary goal of CBHS is to benefit children and their families throughout the state. Expanding behavioral health options for children in Maine communities is a chief goal of this work, along with minimizing the need for children to receive care outside of the state. As noted in PCG’s CBHS Assessment released in February, in recent years an increasing number of Maine children have been placed out of state for behavioral health treatment. More recently, there were 58 Maine children receiving behavioral health treatment outside of Maine as of the end of April (including both residential and hospital care). Of those, 16 are in the care and custody of the Department.

Prioritization and then implementation of these recommendations is an important first step to improving the overall system of care. The development of a strategic plan will create stability within the system, which has seen many changes over the past several years.

Our work is building a foundation for a stronger system of care for youth throughout the state and we look forward to partnering with our stakeholders to make that a reality for Maine’s children and families.