The State of Mississippi Department of Mental Health, Jackson, Miss., conducted a two-pilot project known as Mississippi Connections that focused on providing an integrated system of services in the home and community.
The target population included children to 21 years of age who demonstrated serious emotional disorders and required multiple formal and informal services and supports. Additionally, these youth were at immediate risk of being institutionally placed.
The project began in October 1996 and was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Mental Health Services Program for Youth Replication.
The major focus of the project was to provide appropriate services in the community, while concurrently identifying and defining processes for redirecting and/or reducing costs. The project:
- Developed services not initially accessed by the families, i.e., respite services, family support, and tutorial and recreational programs.
- Contracted with three private psychiatric hospitals to enable project staff to participate in treatment planning if a child enrolled in the program required hospitalization. The project also assumed the cost of any hospitalization, so the contracts guaranteed a set rate.
- Contracted with a hospital in each county for emergency room services and a "safe" meeting place for after-hours crises.
- Contracted with local shelters in each county for emergency placement services.
- Developed a 24-hour crisis plan with each family, primarily focused on informal support, through which each family was able to access a project staff person 24 hours a day.
- Reported a 95 percent reduction in institutional, out-of-community placements of the youth who were served.