Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Boston's Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model: Organizational Structures

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Boston's Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model: Organizational Structures

Article excerpt

The Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model (CBHM), now reaching 50 schools in the Boston Public Schools (BPS), was designed to more effectively address the range of behavioral health needs of students using a multitiered system of support for behavior (MTSSB) to teach, assess, and monitor all students in learning and behavior. In 2010, the school psychologists and pupil adjustment counselors in BPS created CBHM, informed by the domains outlined in the NASP Practice Model, to organize a system-wide approach to promote positive behavioral health and reduce barriers to learning for optimal academic success for all students. CBHM integrates behavioral health services into schools and outlines strategies for highquality services that can be equitably accessed by all students. This systematic, data-driven approach of screening, targeting interventions, and partnering with community agencies has built an infrastructure for the district as it strives to meet the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students. The coordinated efforts through meaningful partnerships have resulted in targeted implementation, improved communications, and program evaluation, which have bolstered this project, with significant results for students and schools.

The coordination and development of CBHM has been organized in an executive work group (EWG) consisting of selected community partners that provide ongoing leadership and advocacy (see Pearrow, Amador, & Dennery, 2016). EWG comprises representatives from BPS, Boston Children's Hospital, and UMass Boston. The group is responsible for continuing to steer the work of CBHM, including addressing issues of funding, sustainability, program evaluation, and communication. As the complexity of the work and the number of participating schools has increased (adding 10 schools each year and now reaching 50 schools serving 22,000 students), the structure of EWG has morphed into targeted committees that organize tasks and priorities. Composition of these committees includes members internal to BPS and external community partners. These committees focus on the areas of partnerships, implementation, communications, and research, each of which are briefly reviewed in this article.

PARTNERSHIPS

In addition to the aforementioned coordinated partnerships, school-based behavioral health providers play a critical role in the success of students, schools, and CBHM, as they provide services to the most at-risk students. BPS has a rich history of community-based partnerships. Historically, partnerships were developed at a school level with limited leadership and oversight at a district level. This led to a fragmented system of behavioral health services resulting in issues of quality, equity, and access. Additionally, there was a lack of standard operating procedures that included a dearth of data about services, students, and outcomes, and there was inconsistent or nonexistent use of research-based interventions. The funding mechanisms for programs also contributed to the disparities and fragmentation of services as there is no central or state funding for behavioral health partners in Massachusetts. The Boston School-Based Behavioral Health Collaborative, led by the director of the Boston Metro Department of Mental Health, had been in existence for more than 20 years, yet it lacked coordination with BPS district staff until recent years. The collaborative comprises representatives from more than 20 behavioral health partners, including hospitals, community behavioral health agencies, Boston Public Health Commission, emergency behavioral health services, Department of Children and Families, and the District Attorney's office.

In 2007, BPS committed to being an active member of the collaborative and began to colead with a redesign of the work. Initial steps focused on organizing information on operational tasks such as resource mapping of behavioral health service providers and memoranda of understanding (MOUs) for services. …

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