Dates of Project: August 2009 to July 2013
Description: Helping Families Raise Healthy Children changed the way the behavioral health, early intervention, and maternal and child health care systems work in Allegheny County, Pa., say the project directors at the Community Care Behavioral Health Organization. Now these systems communicate effectively and work together to help more families facing parental depression and early childhood developmental delays receive support and services needed to live healthier lives.
Project partners implemented protocols for depression screening and referrals for parents of children receiving early intervention services for developmental delays. They trained early intervention service coordinators to offer depression screening and behavioral health to the mothers; and they trained early intervention and maternal child health care therapists and practitioners in care and services that support the parent-child relationship. They also convened a learning collaborative for providers to support cross-system collaborations, and spread the project to other counties in Pennsylvania.
The project was evaluated by the RAND Corporation.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported Helping Families Raise Healthy Children through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships program.
“The shift from a fragmented system to an integrated system where folks work together and don’t treat parents and children as if they’re separate is key. Folks are no longer operating in silos,” says Patty Schake, Project Co-Director.
The RAND evaluation, reported in Transforming Systems for Parental Depression and Early Childhood Developmental Delays: Findings and Lessons Learned from the Helping Families Raise Healthy Children Initiative, found the following key results.
- The project identified 695 parents with, or at risk for, depression, who were eligible for referral for support and services.
- Of the 228 parents identified by community partners, 18 percent had a child with a previously unidentified developmental delay. They were referred for early intervention services.
- 429 (62%) of the 695 parents received referrals for services and supports, a higher percentage than is usual in these cases (52%).
- 305 (71%) of the 429 parents referred for services and supports engaged in services, a much higher engagement rate than usual (37%).
71% of parents referred for depression/early intervention services in Allegheny Co., PA, used the services.