Expanding Mental Health Treatment for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse in Chicago

Dates of Project: June 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015

Description: The Providing Access Toward Hope and Healing (PATHH) initiative was designed to increase mental health treatment capacity for sexually abused children in Chicago, and to improve access to care. A centralized treatment waiting list, a triage system to identify high-priority cases, dedicated treatment slots, Hope and Healing Groups, and training for family advocates and other clinicians, are among its components. The Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (ChicagoCAC) developed and led PATHH.

Thanks to the centralized waiting list, “we can keep track of these families who would otherwise fall through the cracks. Prior to this, we had no idea what these families were doing,” said Project Director Kathy Grzelak, MA, LCPC.

Key Results

Reported through July 2014:

  • PATHH providers engaged 519 children in at least one mental health treatment session over three years (2011–2013).
  • The overall caseload of PATHH providers increased somewhat during the first three years of the project, suggesting increased treatment capacity.
  • The number of children starting treatment declined, and waiting times for treatment increased, possibly because children already in treatment were staying longer.
  • On average, 84 percent of PATHH system capacity was used each month from July 2013 through April 2014. Despite the waiting lists, all possible treatment slots are not always filled, in part because many children are waiting for the right provider.
  • Attendance at Hope and Healing Groups has been disappointingly low. In 2013, 59 families attended a total of 108 group sessions, averaging 2.4 families per session. Over three years, 153 families have attended.
  • Children are more likely to engage in mental health services if they are referred to treatment slots specifically reserved for PATHH referrals; participate in the Hope and Healing Groups; or receive treatment directly from the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center.