Science Marries Social Services: Chemung County System of Care (SOC)

From the New York State Conference of Local Menatl Hygiene Directors Newsletter.

It’s been two years since Chemung County began its System of Care (SOC) Collaborative. It began as part of CLMHD’s initial Learning Collaborative cohort with the goal of “Transitioning Youth Successfully into Adulthood.”

This towering goal to improve the lives of children and families in Chemung County followed a systematic and scientific path towards ultimate success. Before creating a plan, charting a course or spending a dime they called in the data geeks.

First things First

Led by Brian Hart, Director of Community Services for the Chemung County Mental Health Department, Chemung County began by conducting an environmental scan.  Brian explains, “Our mission was to develop a better understanding of SOC and how to use the model locally to first set and then to realize our project goals.”  To gather this information Brian and his team designed and implemented  a survey process that collected and analyzed community knowledge and understanding of the existing programs and services.  According to Brain “We were surprised to learn that people were pleased with the services they had utilized, but were shocked when we realized that most people had no idea about the extent of services available.”  Seeing a potential solution to overcoming this information disconnect, the Chemung SOC Collaborative applied for an Innovations Grant offered by NYS SUCCESS,  to build a technology infrastructure that will aid in program and service information sharing among the members of the community.

What is NYS Success?

In 2012, SAMHSA awarded Upstate New York with a four-year grant to support broad-scale operation, expansion and integration of systems of care. Additional funding has also been provided by the NYS Office of Mental Health to support these efforts. What originated as the Upstate New York System of Care Expansion Project has now given way to the creation of a permanent cross-county system, known as NYS Success: Connecting Systems of Care with Children and Families.

Enter the Geeks

Brian continues, “We knew that our locally designed environmental scanning survey didn’t come close to addressing the dilemma we faced of analyzing data from multiple systems to guide our goal of systemic changes.” That’s when ChemungCounty began working with Mansoor A. F. Kazi, Ph.D, Lead Evaluator for the NYS Success grant.  “Dr. Kazi has been able to provide us with the technical assistance to use our available data from multiple systems while meeting the SAMHSA requirements of universal outcomes data analysis.

How did Chemung County reach their desired goals in a time when resources are so stretched? Brian continued, “The answer lies in the fact thatdetermining what to do is the most challenging part of starting up any SOC collaboration, second only to identifying funding to implement the identified project or intervention.  The in-depth data retrieval and analysis available free through our SOC grant meant success for ChemungCounty.”

To help with the funding challenge, each SOC Learning Collaborative county gets a $5,000 mini grant from CLMHD to provide seed money to assist with start-up activities, such as (likeChemung) conducting a community or readiness survey or holding a training on ways to engage youth and families. Funding is also available from the SAMSA funded NYS SUCCESS Innovation Grants to enhance the system of care for youth ages 5 -21 with serious emotional challenges and their families. Those awards will generally range between $5,000 and $25,000.

This year the collaborative goal is to “Maximize Utilization of Existing Services for Youth” by promoting the availability of services in your county through the development of an AROUNJAwebsite for your community.

Learn more about the capabilities of SOC Evaluation and how they helped ChemungCounty:

Systems of Care (SOC) Evaluation Webinar:Thursday, July 18th 10 to 11am

Webinar Link: 

Who is Presenting?

Fellow DCS and current SOC devotee, BRIAN HART, LCSW-R/Chemung is a member of the NY SUCCESS Advisory Council comprised of state representatives, Conference members, providers, parents and advocates.  He co-chairs the NYS Success Evaluation Workgroup with Marleen Radigan, Deputy Director, Office of Performance Measurement and Evaluation, NYS Office of Mental Health.  Brian is a member of the CLMHD Executive Committee and Chair of the CLMHD Mentoring Program.

NYS System of Care Expansion Lead Evaluator, MANSOOR A. F. KAZI, PhD.  Dr. Kazi is Research Associate Professor & Director of the Program Evaluation Center (University at Buffalo).   Dr. Kazi explains the in-depth data retrieval and analysis (offered free to SOC counties), how its’ methodology can transform your community service structure and how it has already transformed communities throughout New York State.

What Will You Learn?  

Learn how your county can embrace SOC and benefit from the free evaluation.  Brian Hart will provide an overview of the NY SUCCESS Evaluation and explain how Dr. Kazi’s work is benefiting the Chemung County SOC