Behavioral Health

Crosswalk of 400 recommendations on behavioral health workforce

The Center for Workforce Solutions (CWS) complied more than 400 recommendations for dealing with behavioral health workforce issues, from publicly available reports by federal and state policymakers, national associations, foundations and other partners and stakeholders. The summary of that report can be found below.

The CWS is a partnership between the National Council for Mental Wellbeing (National Council), Health Management Associates (HMA) and The College for Behavioral Health Leadership (CBHL). The CWS is invested in creating a national platform that supports cross-sector partners working at multiple levels of the system to execute solutions in concert to tackle complex recommendations and achieve meaningful impact. They want to elevate workforce solutions that exist and can scale as well as build the pathways for overcoming barriers to implementation.

In an effort to understand what recommendations exist and what initiatives are suggested as solutions for the workforce crisis, the CWS reviewed recommendations and cross-walked them to the CWS levers of change as a way of building an actionable roadmap for addressing the behavioral health workforce crisis and to support cross-sector action towards creating a stronger, more equitable workforce.

Learn more about HMA’s work with the CWS and on Collective Impact at https://www.healthmanagement.com/blog/advancing-workforce-through-collective-impact/

If you want to learn more about how HMA can help your organization with behavioral health workforce issues, contact our experts below.

SAMHSA’s next chapter: priorities, programs, and possibilities

The prospect of new leadership due to a presidential election brings with it the potential for significant shifts in priorities, policies, and programs within federal agencies. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) plays an increasingly critical role in shaping the nation’s mental health and substance use disorder services in the United States. Mental health and the opioid crisis are a salient political issue that will receive some attention on the campaign trail, but candidates are unlikely to detail the specifics on how the rhetoric becomes reality.

SAMHSA’s budget could see adjustments, channeling resources toward initiatives that align with the new administration’s vision. This could mean increased funding for specific programs deemed critical under the new leadership and decreases for other programs. Any major shifts in funding will require the support of Congress. Also possible with new leadership are changes to programmatic approaches that revolve around the introduction of novel interventions, expansion of access to treatments, and addressing emerging challenges such as the opioid crisis with renewed vigor.

The intersection of technology and mental health is likely to receive heightened attention. Telehealth expansions, digital tools for prevention and intervention, and data-driven innovations may become focal points of SAMHSA’s strategy.

As SAMHSA adapts to new leadership, the opportunity arises to forge innovative pathways toward improved mental health outcomes and enhanced support for individuals and communities affected by substance use disorders. By embracing whatever change may come, SAMHSA can continue its vital mission of promoting behavioral health and resilience across the nation. The results of the 2024 election will have a significant impact on federal mental health policy in the coming years; DC Direct subscribers get a steady stream of insight to stay on top of what’s coming next.

Succeeding in the world of value-based payments: assess your organization’s VBP readiness

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, the shift towards value-based care (VBC) has emerged as a transformative force, promising improved outcomes, reduced costs, and enhanced patient experiences. While the benefits of VBC are clear, the path to implementation can be complex and challenging, particularly for behavioral health (BH) providers. In this blog post, we delve into the significance of assessing readiness for VBC and value-based payment (VBP) systems, with a specific focus on BH providers, and why it serves as a crucial step towards success.

Behavioral health plays a pivotal role in holistic patient care, addressing mental health and substance use disorders that significantly impact overall well-being. However, traditional fee-for-service models often inadequately incentivize preventive and coordinated care, leading to fragmented services and suboptimal outcomes. Recognizing this gap, the transition to VBC offers a promising avenue to realign incentives, improve care coordination, and enhance patient outcomes in the realm of behavioral health.

Insights from the HMA Spring Workshop

In March 2024, HMA hosted a workshop on value-based care, (you can read more of the key takeaways here). A consensus emerged on the indispensable role of data and technology in driving informed decision-making. Dr. Katie Kaney’s keynote address on innovative approaches to holistic care metrics resonated with attendees, highlighting the need to move beyond conventional measurements towards a comprehensive understanding of patient well-being.

A pivotal aspect of VBC lies in the collaborative effort between payers and providers to align measures and incentives while ensuring these measures hold significance for all stakeholders, including payers, providers, and patients. The conversations with attendees on Empowering Care Delivery through Tangible Measures underscored the imperative of clinician involvement in outcome measurement establishment. We discussed the importance of meaningful measurement for state-level initiatives and local strategies, all aimed at achieving better outcomes for our communities.

The Importance of Readiness Assessment

Embarking on the journey towards VBC demands a comprehensive understanding of organizational strengths, challenges, and readiness to embrace change. As we navigate the transition to value-based care, understanding where your organization stands is key. This is where readiness assessment tools play a pivotal role. By systematically evaluating various aspects of organizational preparedness, such as infrastructure, data capabilities, care delivery models, and cultural readiness, organizations can identify areas for improvement and tailor strategies to navigate the transition effectively.

Tailoring Strategies for Success

Assessing readiness enables organizations to tailor strategies that align with their unique circumstances and challenges. For instance, organizations lacking robust data infrastructure may prioritize investments in health information technology and analytics capabilities to support population health management and outcome measurement. Similarly, addressing workforce training and cultural transformation can foster a patient-centric approach and promote collaboration across care teams.

Mitigating Risks and Maximizing Opportunities

VBC presents both opportunities and risks for organizations. While it offers incentives for preventive care, care coordination, and improved outcomes, it also requires operational and cultural shifts that may pose challenges. Readiness assessment enables organizations to identify potential risks, such as inadequate data systems, reimbursement uncertainties, or staff resistance, and develop mitigation strategies to address them proactively. Moreover, it empowers organizations to capitalize on opportunities, such as alternative payment models, partnerships with primary care providers, and value-based contracting, to enhance sustainability and growth.

Driving Quality and Equity in Behavioral Health

At its core, VBC embodies a commitment to delivering high-quality, equitable care that addresses the diverse needs of patients. By assessing readiness and embracing VBC principles, BH providers can enhance care delivery, improve outcomes, and reduce disparities in access and quality of care. Furthermore, by integrating behavioral health into broader care delivery models and payment structures, organizations can foster a more holistic approach to health and well-being, promoting resilience and recovery for individuals and communities alike.

Moving Forward with Confidence

As organizations navigate the complexities of VBC, assessing readiness serves as a guiding compass, illuminating the path forward and empowering organizations to embrace change with confidence. By leveraging readiness assessment tools, organizations can identify strengths, address weaknesses, and chart a course towards sustainable, value-driven care delivery. In doing so, they not only enhance their own viability and success but also contribute to a more resilient, equitable healthcare system that prioritizes the well-being of all individuals.

How HMA Can Help

There are many tools online that offer to help organizations determine their readiness for implementing VBC. By using HMA’s new VBP Readiness Assessment tool, you also can gain access to the experts on HMA’s behavioral health and VBC teams. Meticulously crafted to gauge your organization’s preparedness, HMA’s value-based payment readiness assessment surveys six domains of core functions necessary for successful payment reform models.

Taking the survey and receiving one analyzed response is free, but you may find value in contracting with HMA for a more in-depth analysis of your organization.

Assessing readiness for VBC is not merely a preparatory step but a fundamental aspect of organizational transformation. For behavioral health providers, it represents a critical opportunity to reshape care delivery, drive quality and equity, and ultimately, improve the lives of those served. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, readiness assessment will remain an indispensable tool for navigating change, fostering innovation, and realizing the full potential of value-based care in behavioral health.

HMA offers a new way to approach grant funding for behavioral health providers

Grants from both government and foundations can be an essential component of a community behavioral health provider’s growth strategy. Every year billions of dollars are distributed to support program growth, quality improvement, training, and other essential needs. Finding the right opportunities and applying for grants that are aligned with your organization’s strategic growth interests can be an essential catalyst for organizational development, service continuum growth, and quality improvements.

Behavioral health providers often struggle with identifying and applying for the right grant opportunities. It is time consuming and takes resources away from your mission to serve your communities. The deluge of notices of funding opportunities, requests for proposals, requests for applications, and requests for expressions of interest can overwhelm even the most sophisticated and well-resourced provider. Few organizations have the internal capacity to devote to wading through the hundreds of opportunities that are published each week.

That is why we created HMA Grant Prospector. HMA will do the work, so you don’t have to.

The HMA Grant Prospector is a tool that combines HMA’s deep subject matter expertise in community behavioral health care with understanding of the process of grant procurement. We have embedded this expertise in proprietary software that can sift through grant opportunities and pick out the gold nuggets from the mountain of information.

When your organization subscribes to Grant Prospector, we interview you to find out what services you have, the communities you serve, and what gaps in your care continuum you seek funding to fill. We collect information on grant opportunities as they are released, and the Grant Prospector matches your organization’s criteria with funding opportunities. We’ll send you only those opportunities for which your organization is eligible, that are aligned with your strategy and organizational objectives, and targeted to your population. You can rely on HMA to do the legwork so you can focus your efforts on improving lives in your community.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS SERVICE

“HMA has helped us quickly and easily identify the best opportunities for grants for Horizon Health Services. With their help, we have been able to find the right opportunities, apply with precision, and expand our service continuum.”

– Erin DiGirolamo, CEO and Brandy Vandermark-Murray, President, Horizon Health Services, Buffalo, NY

Announcing HMA’s new value-based payment (VBP) readiness assessment tool for behavioral health providers

Dollars and Sense: Is Your Organization Positioned to Thrive in the World of Value-Based Payments?

As the healthcare system in the U.S. moves away from the costly and inefficient framework of fee-for-service to patient-centered structures focused on value and quality, every Behavioral Health organization finds itself with challenges ahead. Whether your organization stands at the forefront, poised for a full dive into value-based payment implementation, or is tentatively exploring initial steps, understanding your organization’s readiness on the VBP spectrum is paramount to success. Health Management Associates (HMA) is helping provider organizations in every phase of readiness move forward. We understand the detailed steps to help you focus on value, change payment structures, adapt clinical and operation workflows, and prepare and train your workforce to improve quality. Our tool is not just a promise but a practical solution to assess your current organizational readiness, providing valuable insights to focus your attention toward the next level of value.

VBP Readiness Assessment Tool

HMA’s VBP Readiness Assessment is a free, online survey tool that can help you gauge your organization’s preparedness across six pivotal domains of core functions necessary for successful participation in payment reform models. Completing the survey will provide a snapshot about a single provider or an entire organization and determine where you stand on the value-based payment spectrum.  The six domains encompass measuring outcomes, evaluating board and leadership readiness, assessing technological capabilities for capturing and sharing data, gauging partnerships, payer engagement strategies, and financial alignment.

Readiness Assessment Results

VBP graphic 1
VBP graphic 2

Example plot of a readiness assessment showing an organization’s scores on the VBP spectrum.
This organization has an overall Intermediate level of readiness with the highest levels demonstrated in
Board & Leadership Readiness and Partnership and lowest levels in Financial Readiness.

The journey toward successfully navigating the realm of value-based payments demands a strategic and informed approach. The crucial first step is a comprehensive assessment of organizational readiness, and the HMA VBP Readiness Assessment Tool stands as a valuable resource for this purpose. The ever-changing landscape of healthcare payments requires organizations to be adaptive and forward-thinking. With HMA’s team of experts offering guidance at every stage, providers, associations, health plans, and states can gain a profound understanding of the necessary organizational efforts required to engage in VBP successfully. The current landscape increasingly emphasizes value, therefore, the importance of transitioning from fee-for-service to value-based models cannot be overstated. As the demand for value continues to grow, organizations that proactively position themselves to meet these evolving expectations will not only thrive but contribute significantly to shaping the future of healthcare delivery. The HMA VBP Readiness Assessment Tool is not just a survey; it’s a compass guiding you through the dynamic terrain of value-based payments, serving as a way to identify meaningful progressive steps you can take to strengthen your organizational position within the VBP space.

Taking the survey and receiving one analyzed response is free, but you may find value in contracting with HMA for a more in-depth analysis of your organization. Click below for more details and to access the survey.

For more information, please contact Rachel Bembas, PhD, Principal.

Opportunities for continued certified community behavioral health clinic expansion and enhancement

Opportunities related to Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) continue to expand for both states and providers. With this increased investment in the model comes the need for continued refinement and improvement. CCBHCs enable government and other payors and providers to increase capacity and move towards a transformed behavioral health system that is responsive to local community needs. This article summarizes a number of new developments that will impact CCBHCs, including a few opportunities for expansion that you may not want to miss.

Background

CCBHCs provide integrated and coordinated community-based care for individuals across the lifespan who are living with and/or at risk for behavioral health conditions. The model is designed to increase access to behavioral health services; provide a comprehensive range of services, including crisis services, that respond to local needs; incorporate evidence-based practices; and establish care coordination as a linchpin for service delivery. To date, CCBHCs have demonstrated positive outcomes, such as: [i]

  • Significant reductions in client hospitalizations
  • Increased access to high quality community-based care, including services like Medication Assisted Treatment and care coordination
  • Mitigation of the challenges related to the national health care workforce shortage
  • Innovative and strengthened partnerships with cross-system partners, such as law enforcement, schools, and hospitals

SAMHSA CCBHC Demonstration Grant Opportunity Releases for States

Earlier this month, SAMHSA released its CCBHC Demonstration Program opportunity for states who currently or have previously held a CCBHC Planning Grant. The Demonstration RFP (request for proposals) will allow selected states to initiate a CCBHC Demonstration Program starting on July 1, 2024. In 2016, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania were selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to participate in the initial CCBHC Demonstration Program. In August 2020, Kentucky and Michigan were selected as two new CCBHC Demonstration States through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (P.L. 116-136). Through this most recent 2024 CCBHC Demonstration opportunity, SAMHSA will select up to 10 additional states to participate in the CCBHC Demonstration, as outlined by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022 (P.L. 117-259).

For those interested in this RFP:

  • Eligibility: States selected for the 2016 or 2023 CCBHC Planning Grant (that are not currently participating in the Demonstration Program) are eligible to apply for this RFP.
  • Due Date: Applications are due March 20, 2024, at 11:59pm EST and must be submitted by email to [email protected]. Awarded states will be announced in June 2024.  
  • Evaluation Criteria: As outlined in the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014, state applications will be scored on their ability to:
    • Provide the most complete scope of services
    • Improve availability of, access to, and participation in, CCBHC services
    • Improve availability of, access to, and participation in assisted outpatient mental health treatment in the state
    • Demonstrate the potential to expand available mental health services in a demonstration area and increase the quality of such services without increasing net federal spending

For additional context and background on this opportunity, HMA and the National Council hosted a webinar on October 6, 2022, on “Developing a Strategy for the CCBHC State Demonstration RFP.” During this webinar, we engaged representatives from New York and Michigan to share information about their demonstration program implementation to date.

Other CCBHC Updates of Note

In addition to this state Demonstration RFP, there have been several recent updates to CCBHC-related guidance documents that are worth noting for anyone who is currently participating and/or interested in the CCBHC model:

Updates to the Prospective Payment System (PPS) Guidance

Under the state CCBHC Demonstration Program, CCBHCs are paid a daily or monthly Prospective Payment System (PPS) rate. In 2023, in preparation for issuing an updated guidance, CMS held a forum for states, providers, and other stakeholder input on newly proposed PPS changes. In February 2024, the updated PPS Guidance was released, reflecting gathered feedback incorporating payment flexibilities and alignment with revisions to the CCBHC criteria. One major change was the addition of two PPS options for states, which addresses the high-cost and specialized care delivered through mobile and on-site crisis intervention services provided directly to individuals. Specifically:

  • PPS-3 offers states the option to reimburse CCBHCs on a daily basis, including daily Special Crisis Services rates, which allow states to set separate PPS rates for crisis services provided by CCBHCs.
  • PPS-4 offers states the option to reimburse CCBHCs on a monthly basis, including monthly Special Crisis Services rates. Quality Bonus Payments are also required under this PPS-4 structure.

Additionally, the metrics for Quality Bonus Payments (which are required as part of the PPS-2 and PPS-4 monthly rate structures and optional for the PPS-1 and PPS-3 daily rate structures) have been modified to align with the revised CCBHC Quality Metrics. Additionally, CMS added new guidance related to payments to CCBHCs that are also certified as FQHCs (Federally Qualified Health Centers) and other provider types operating within the Medicaid program.

Overall, this updated PPS Guidance is effective on or after January 1, 2024 for existing CCBHC Demonstration States and on or after July 1, 2024 for newly selected states added to the program under the above CCBHC Demonstration Program RFP.

CCBHC Quality Metrics: Final Specifications Released

Further, when SAMHSA revised the CCBHC criteria in March of last year, they also updated the required and optional quality measures for both CCBHC providers and states operating a Demonstration program. The revised guidance specifies that all CCBHCs, including those participating in a State Demonstration Program as well as providers funded by a SAMHSA CCBHC Grant, must begin collecting and reporting on the required provider-specific measures starting in calendar year 2025. Similarly, states participating in the CCBHC Demonstration Program must transition to reporting on the new state-specific measures as well, with their first measurement year for the new measures running from January 1, 2025 – December 31, 2025.

Earlier this month, SAMHSA released the final specifications for each of the required and optional CCBHC quality measures. Providers and states alike are currently working hard to prepare their quality processes and systems to report on these new measures. With the inclusion of SAMHSA-funded CCBHCs in these quality measure reporting requirements, the hope is that the expanded data will assist us all in better understanding the impact of the CCBHC initiative as it relates to access to care and outcomes.

Guidance for States on CCBHC Criteria Customizations

Finally, SAMHSA recently released updated guidance for states looking to customize the federal CCBHC criteria as part of their CCBHC Demonstration Programs, to align with updates they made to the federal criteria in March of 2023. The guidance outlines, for a variety of criteria, how states may add or customize the requirements. Importantly, all CCBHCs operating either under a SAMHSA CCBHC Grant Program or a state-run CCBHC Demonstration Program must meet all of the revised federal CCBHC Criteria on or before July 1, 2024. Building on the federal criteria, many states are strategically taking advantage of customization opportunities to better align the CCBHC model with their system-wide goals and address gaps within their current behavioral health system’s capacity.

Upcoming opportunities for CCBHC expansion

In addition, there are several upcoming opportunities on the horizon for both states and providers looking to enter the CCBHC space.

New CCBHC-Expansion Grants for Behavioral Health Providers

SAMHSA’s Fiscal YeaGr 2024 budget requested $552.5 million for the CCBHC Expansion Program, which is a $167.5 million increase above the FY 2023 enacted level. The CCBHC-Expansion Grant Program includes both “Improvement and Advancement” grants for existing CCBHCs looking to enhance their programs, as well as “Planning, Development, and Implementation” grants for providers looking to establish a new grant-funded CCBHC.

SAMHSA’s FY24 funding will support 360 continuation grants, as well as award a new cohort of 158 grants, and a technical training assistance center grant to continue the improvement of mental disorder treatment, services, and interventions for children and adults. The budget also proposes to establish “an accreditation process [that] would ensure consistent adherence to the CCBHC model and create capacity to confirm adherence to the criteria and the model.”

While the new CCBHC-Expansion Grant RFPs are not currently posted on SAMHSA’s list of projected RFPs, we can expect (based on prior rounds) they are likely to be released sometime in the spring.

Expected Upcoming CCBHC Planning Grant for States

In addition to seeding the selection of a new cohort of 10 states to participate in the CCBHC Demonstration Program starting through the above Demonstration Program RFP and then every two years thereafter, the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act also earmarked funding for SAMHSA Planning Grants to support states looking to join the Demonstration. For states who are not selected to participate in the CCBHC Demonstration Program starting on July 1, 2024, we expect another CCBHC Planning Grant RFP to be released in the fourth quarter of this calendar year, with another round of 15 Planning Grants to be awarded to selected states in 2025.

States looking to prepare for the next Planning Gant RFP can review HMA’s summary of the most recent Planning Grant opportunity and watch HMA’s webinar co-hosted with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing that provides an overview of the previous RFP.

Interested in Learning More?

Reach out to our experts! HMA offers a deeply informed yet neutral perspective on CCBHC development, with team members who specialize in operations, quality, and fiscal components of the CCBHC model. We have helped 17 states successfully write their CCBHC Planning Grant applications, and in 2023 alone, we helped behavioral health providers secure approximately $80 million in expansion grant funding they are using to support their communities. Our team of experts brings extensive experience supporting both states and providers to leverage the CCBHC model to support their overall system transformation goals.

Click here to learn more about our work with CCBHCs or contact:

Heidi Arthur, Principal
Kristan McIntosh, Principal
Josh Rubin, Principal


[i] https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/22.06.06_HillDayAtHome_CCBHC_FactSheets.pdf

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Ecosystem of Care Webinar Series: Pivoting to Save Lives

Over the coming weeks, HMA is presenting a 3-part webinar series describing a whole person, integrated, solutions-based approach to the ongoing overdose epidemic. It is time to reconsider standard attempts to solve this crisis. Leaders need to be willing to pivot away from approaches that have not yielded the level of impact that this crisis demands, and to be ready to try new ideas and solutions.

“An ideal Ecosystem of Care is person-centered, and parts of the system work together to eliminate stigma, overcome barriers, and prevent people from falling through the cracks that are currently pervasive,” says Dr. Jean Glossa, Managing Director. “Stakeholders participating in SUD care, prevention, and treatment may need to expand their services and work together with other partners in ways they have not before.” 

Each webinar in this series will share HMA’s nuanced understanding of the many paths available for those seeking recovery or a different relationship to addictive behaviors. Experts in the field will share valuable insights, shedding light on the various interventions and strategies that contribute to a holistic and effective approach to supporting individuals on their journey to lasting recovery. Whether you are a healthcare professional, caregiver, or someone personally affected by substance use, this webinar offers a roadmap for navigating the complexities of the Substance Use Care Continuum, fostering hope and resilience in the pursuit of sustained well-being.

By attending this series of webinars, you will learn how to:

  • Describe ongoing overdose crisis as a national public health emergency.
  • Recognize where certain solutions didn’t create the desired impact.
  • Consider new approaches and solutions to overcome ingrained stigma.

Part 1: Overview and The Role of Health Promotion and Harm Reduction Strategies
Part 2: Empowering Change in the SUD Ecosystem
Part 3: Building Systems-Thinking in the SUD Ecosystem

HMA expert consultants have deep expertise, and professional on-the-ground lived experience, with supporting efforts nationwide to build an evidence-based, patient-centered, and sustainable addiction treatment ecosystem. No matter the scope or size of the project, HMA has experience working with states, and community organizations to develop impactful, sustainable responses to SUD. Our team is ready to help clients create, disseminate, and implement actionable and sustainable programs, to address substance use, overdose, and addiction.

Check out these related resources:

If you have other questions or want to speak to someone about how HMA can help your organization with some of these ideas, please contact Jean Glossa or Erin Russell.

Advancing workforce through Collective Impact

The National Council for Mental Wellbeing (NCMW) launched the Center for Workforce Solutions in 2023 in partnership with The College for Behavioral Health Leadership (CBHL) and Health Management Associates (HMA). The partnership is leveraging Collective Impact to address the workforce crisis, and using a cross-sector approach to address the long-standing challenges for expanding and solidifying the behavioral health workforce. The partners identified a gap in advancing workforce solutions with many national convenings creating various sets of recommendations without a coordinated or clear approach to moving recommendations to action.

Why use Collective Impact?

  • Workforce challenges and solutions require a cross-sector approach including changes in Federal and State regulations as well as at the provider level. Need a coordinated approach to truly reach change.
  • There are a lot of recommendations nationally with stalled action in many cases because the recommendations require other implementers to act.
  • No single accountable entity to ensure recommendations move forward
  • Need for cross-sector agreement on strategies and then cross-sector implementation
  • Scale of the challenge can create overwhelm and inertia to address big gaps
  • Leverage the work being done across partners while building a coordinated effort

Check out this webinar recording to learn more about the history of this effort.

Link to the Webinar

2023 Progress

The partnership was busy in 2023 with activities to build multiple avenues for change:

  • Building a robust partnership and backbone for the collective impact approach which is working seamlessly to support a national and cross-sector group of leaders to support implementation of recommendations that often require multiple levels of the system and cross-sector engagement.
  • Developing a draft framework for the complexity of the workforce challenges and solutions and thinking about the implementers (regulators, policy makers, providers, and others) that are needed to implement recommendations.
  • Cross-walking more than 400 recommendations from national sources including national and state approaches as well as provider lessons using the framework to understand consistent recommendations, identify themes and prioritize where to focus moving recommendations to action.
  • Launching a Behavioral Health Provider and Association ECHO on workforce building a network of providers to share case studies and learn from each other and discuss innovative solutions for addressing workforce challenges.
  • Continuing to identify funding support to move the collective impact approach forward.

What’s Coming in 2024?

  • National Workforce Conversation—a virtual meeting open to all interested nationally to communicate and share information broadly and to collectively track what’s working and lessons learned in workforce efforts.
  • Launch Steering Committee and Working Groups—which will include national key decision makers who will guide a coordinated approach to implementing recommendations and working cross-sector to be accountable to change.
  • Launch Second ECHO for Providers and Associations to continue to share what’s working and improve the immediate workforce crisis at the provider level. Stay Tuned https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/program/center-for-workforce-solutions/engage/echo/
  • NatCon’24: Register and join the Workforce Development and Talent Management Track (April 15 – 17, 2024)

Collaborating to improve children’s behavioral health

Investments in children’s behavioral health represent a critical window of opportunity for fostering healthy child development and nurturing the resilience necessary for lifelong well-being. With over 40 percent of U.S. children and youth relying on the Medicaid system for healthcare coverage, it presents a platform to significantly enhance early intervention and prevention services, particularly for vulnerable children. Federal and state policymakers are increasingly active in formulating policies that prioritize investments in initiatives promoting mental and physical health at this pivotal developmental stage.

Health Management Associates (HMA) has partnered with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Technical Assistance Coalition to produce a series of briefs that characterize the opportunities to improve coordination of services for children. Beyond the statistics lie the stories of countless vulnerable children and families facing immediate and critical needs. Addressing these issues requires comprehensive cross-system reforms, including policies that promote integrated financing, enhance care coordination, facilitate provider collaboration, and bolster upstream prevention efforts.

The importance of socio-emotional wellbeing as core to childhood development is underscored by evidence-based models and approaches, which consistently demonstrate the substantial value and long-term impact of investing in children’s mental and behavioral health. These investments not only benefit children and adolescents but also extend their positive effects to primary caregivers, creating a comprehensive and sustainable framework for fostering well-rounded, mentally resilient, and physically healthy lives.

The insights and recommendations presented in these briefs* underscore the urgency of coordinated action to improve the well-being of our nation’s youth and the opportunity for collaborative approaches to improve outcomes:

  1. Bolstering The Youth Behavioral Health System: Innovative State Policies To Address Access & Parity (previously published in 2022)
  2. System Integration Across Child Welfare, Behavioral Health, And Medicaid (previously published in 2022)
  3. State Policy and Practice Recommendations to Advance Improvements in Children’s Behavioral Health*
  4. Improving Outcomes for Children in Crisis with Evidence-Based Tools*
  5. The Role of Specialized Managed Care in Addressing the Intersection of Child Welfare Reform and Behavioral Health Transformation*
  6. Early Childhood Mental Health: the Importance of Caregiver Support in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Clinical Interventions for Children*
  7. Connecting Schools to the Larger Youth Behavioral Health System: Early Innovations from California*

*Briefs 3-7 were funded by SAMHSA’s TT1 grant award for FY 2023.

This is part of a larger effort supported by HMA and a number of partner organizations, including NASMHPD, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, MITRE, National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD), Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), and the Federal Government agencies ACF and SAMHSA, to help create a dialogue among state agencies and stakeholders working to improve child welfare. The briefs HMA released are a starting point for much of the upcoming dialogue. A federal policy discussion is being held at SAMHSA in mid-November.

Recognizing the complexity of the challenges that lie ahead, it is evident that no single agency can tackle them in isolation. This approach requires adequate funding and robust partnerships at all levels, from local to state and federal. HMA and our partners are producing a unique convening of state agencies promoting a collective approach to improving child-centered care, one that emphasizes child and family-centered practices and fosters local collaborations across each community’s system of care. This invitation-only event in early February 2024 will convene eight state government child welfare agencies and experts to develop methods for improving their services.

The work HMA is doing with our partners highlights the gravity of the problems while providing inspiring examples of successful collaborations from across the country. By examining what works in these models, the way forward becomes evident —a path toward the development of more seamless systems of care for children and youth grappling with behavioral health needs. As states and communities navigate these critical issues, we put forward this body of work as a valuable resource, offering insights and strategies to transform our approach to children and youth well-being and behavioral health support.

HMA will be sharing more about this effort in the coming months, including a webinar with our partners on December 12; registrants will receive a summary of the findings following the February 2024 event. If you want to learn more about this and other initiatives in child behavioral health, please contact HMA children’s behavioral health experts Caitlin Thomas-Henkel and Uma Ahluwalia.

Timeline of Key Events

  • November 3, 2023: Release of SAMHSA funded briefs
  • November 16, 2023: Federal Policy Convening (private)
  • December 12, 2023: HMA Webinar featuring Partner Agencies to discuss federal convening insights, plans for February State Policy Lab. Watch webinar replay here.
  • February 7-8, 2024: State Policy Lab (invitation only)
  • Dates TBD: Release of blueprint/insights from State Policy Lab

HMA experts drawing on own lived experience to present on “Lifting Voices” project: Navigating the Children’s System of Care at NATCON24 in St. Louis, April 15-17

At the upcoming NATCON24 convention, HMA principals Heidi Arthur and Ellen Breslin will conduct a motivating workshop called “Lifting Voices for Meaningful, Actionable Change: Insights from Navigating the Children’s System of Care.” During this workshop, Heidi and Ellen will discuss how their own journeys as mothers of children with significant behavioral health needs have informed their work as policy and practice advisors to state and local authorities. They will lift up the voices of their fellow parents and youth, whose insights they sought in order to inform improvements to behavioral health care and access at the state and local levels around the country. Heidi and Ellen seek to make this an engaging workshop for attendees and encourage all to join the call to action. 

Please join their workshop at NATCON24 on Monday, April 15, 2024 from 10:30– 11:30 AM CT in room 132, Level 1, ACCC.

As longtime leaders in health and human services, HMA’s behavioral health experts bring front line and leadership experience to their work supporting behavioral health authorities, child welfare programs and community and school-based providers of all kinds. We consult with public and private sector entities who serve children and families in order to improve access, streamline, and integrate care. We aim to advance equity and improve quality in state, county, and local program development. Contact us to learn more.

Learn more about the foundations of this project by accessing the Lifting Voices report from October 2023 below.