Improving Child Well-Being: Interagency Collaboration Between Child Welfare and Specialized Behavioral, Mental, and Physcial Health Services Providers
This symposium includes four multi-methods studies that examine interagency collaboration between CWS and behavioral, mental, and physical health service providers, and presents research using multiple units of analyses (organizations, service providers, and clients).
The first paper presents research on national trends in collaborative practices between CWS and drug and alcohol services providers, and examines organizational factors that affect engagement in various types and intensity of collaboration. Findings from this study suggest that organizational factors such as agency director's experience and agency staffing play pivotal roles in CWS' engagement in interagency collaboration.
The second paper is a qualitative study exploring workers’ perceptions of how CWS contractual relationships with private behavioral health organizations influence children’s service access by both constraining and facilitating referrals. This study finds that workers perceive contracts expedite referral and service linkage processes, but may restrict their ability to tailor referrals to the unique needs of children with complex or costly treatment needs.
The third paper assesses the prevalence of mental health disorders and service use among a sample of CWS-involved youth screened through a specialized mental health screening tool developed through interagency collaborative efforts. Findings indicate that implementation of this specialized screening tool by non-mental health specialized service providers (child-welfare workers) facilitated successful identification of a subsample of maltreated children at elevated risk for mental health needs.
The final paper is a mixed-methods study that examines caregiver adherence to return appointments for children receiving pediatric health services from community partners; this is a select group of health providers who have established collaboration with their local CWS to provide specialized assessment and treatment services. This study finds that the nonadherence rate for return appointments was greater for CWS-involved children than in other studies with similar pediatric populations. Results indicate that sending reminders, possibly using text messaging, may increase caregivers’ attendance at return appointments.
Overall, this symposium serves to highlight interagency collaboration’s role in improving delivery of and linkages to specialized services for high-needs clients, as well as interagency collaboration’s potential for increasing organizational service delivery capacity.