standardized sssessment pilot (sap)

Problem to Solve:  When a child is removed from his/her guardian(s) and taken into DSS custody, there is not a standard process to assure they receive a quality comprehensive behavioral assessment. Children are not removed from their homes unless abuse and/or neglect is identified and just the act of removing the child from his/her family is a form of trauma that needs to be addressed. These children are under the care and protection of the state and, as such, the state is responsible for their physical and behavioral health needs. To assure those needs are met, all children who are brought into the custody of the child welfare system should receive a comprehensive, trauma informed assessment to identify their behavioral health needs. 

Background:  Benchmarks piloted a county DSS, private behavioral health provider and LME/MCO partnership to develop and implement an evidence-based, trauma-informed assessment for children coming into foster care.  Through Benchmarks’ Partnering for Excellence (PFE) pilot project (now in four counties), data has shown that early intervention through proper screening and assessment decreases the utilization of the emergency room, crisis management, and residential placement while cutting the Medicaid costs by up to 44% per child 12 months after he/she enters DSS custody.  Through the standardized screening and assessment, more children will receive the appropriate services at the appropriate time while decreasing the utilization of high level services, lowering the overall cost to the Medicaid system, and minimizing the traumatic impact to the child resulting from multiple, failed or inappropriate placements. 

Goal:  Ensure that every youth, four years and older, entering foster care receives a standardized, trauma and evidence-informed screening and assessment to ensure an appropriate diagnosis leading to proper service provisions with the goal of improving child and family outcomes.

Pilot Area: Up to three Managed Care Organizations will work with their DSS partners in up to four counties within their catchment area.  The Managed Care Organizations, DSS agencies and providers will receive training on all aspects of the pilot, including how to implement and use the standardized assessment, and how to maintain fidelity to the model.