Schuyler County: Motivational Interviewing & Connecting Families and Youth with Resources

After receiving Innovation Funding from NYS Success in February 2014, the Schuyler County System of Care (SOC) met to establish goals for their work and lead the implementation. Members of the SOC group included representatives from county and non-profitagencies, local addiction treatment center, mental health providers, parents, case managers and one school. Schuyler reported that it has been a challenge to get youth at the table for various reasons but they are continuing to look for youth input in other ways. Since the grant funding was received, the Schuyler SOC has been meeting once a month primarily for trainings related to specific SOC values.

During initial strategic planning sessions, the group established three primary goals for the next year: to train providers on person-centered counseling through motivational interviewing, to help connect families with available resources in the community, and to develop a more streamlined meeting model for youth and families.

To address Schuyler’s first goal, the team decided to offer motivational interviewing trainings to educate their providers. Motivational interviewing is a strategy for improving health-related behaviors by exploring ambivalence and readiness to change through a client’s perspective. Two parents and 39 staff representing nine county/non-profitagencies and one school attended the first motivational interviewing session held in September 2014. Cheryl Martin of Coordinated Care Services Inc., led the training on techniques to help clients define goals for themselves with help from a provider. Schuyler County Mental Health Clinic staff member Michelle Berliss, who coordinated the training, said participants from most agencies and school found the approach very useful and adaptable to their various populations of need.

For their second goal of helping to connect families with available resources, Schuyler SOC identified the existing program provided by 2-1-1 of the Finger Lakes as a place to start. The group will work in the Spring 2015 with staff from 2-1-1 to make sure all the services in Schuyler County are listed, and plans to develop promotional materials that will encourage people to call.

To achieve their third goal of developing a better meeting model for youth and families, the Schuyler SOC team decided to explore developinga Collaborative Family Team Model that could be used by various agencies to streamline the number of meetings that family and youth have to attend. By implementing this model, they hope to be able to provide a “one-stop-shop” for families and provide contact people that will help guide parents through the system. To help accomplish this, Schuyler invited Desiree Erway, Family Engagement Specialist from the Center for Development of Human Services at SUNY Buffalo recently gave a presentation about developing integrated family meetings.

While great strides have been made in the Schuyler SOC, they are continuing to work on these projects throughout the next year (2015), and are also exploring options for creating a cohesive visual identity for their system of care and will be seeking funding to sustain this work beyond their current grant.