Pivot to Prevention: Tools for Funding and Implementing Evidence-Based Programs in Schools
After achieving significant gains in its work to improve mental and behavioral health among high-school students in Providence, Rhode Island, CYC has launched a series of tools supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to help like-minded communities replicate their success.
CYC’s Pivot to Prevention Program and Toolbox covers everything from how to finance clinical services with Medicaid to evaluating and building partnerships for those services to be delivered in the school setting. It offers tools for school systems and support teams to assess current resources, train staff and track individual students’ evolving support needs. It also includes forms and outreach materials to inform and engage families.
Pivot to Prevention program launch
High schools in Providence were serving large numbers of students from low-income families, most of whom had no access to mental health services. Pivot to Prevention brought licensed therapists, social workers and other Medicaid-reimbursed clinicians to the schools during the school day. With clinicians, partner agencies and the school district joining forces, the program served nearly 1,000 children. By engaging teens at their schools, clinicians identified youth who needed support and offered it at little cost to the district.
Beyond the direct health benefits, the program achieved a cultural shift within the participating high schools. Administrators reported fewer behavioral referrals. They also observed reduced stigma surrounding behavioral health which, in turn, eliminates another barrier for those seeking help.
Pivot to Prevention’s placement in schools has positioned districts to proactively intervene and prevent behavioral issues. As a school-based program, Pivot to Prevention also uses Medicaid funding to secure important resources, making it more cost-effective for the community.
“The Pivot to Prevention tools offer school systems new ways of expanding their behavioral health resources while engaging young people and families,” said Ilene Berman, a senior associate with the Casey Foundation’s Evidence-Based Practice Group. “By using what works to identify and prevent issues early, schools can help their students thrive in their classes and in life.”
Building on a history of partnership
In 2012, CYC, then known as the Providence Children and Youth Cabinet, was the first intermediary to lead the implementation of the Foundation’s Evidence2Success framework, which helps communities gather data from young people about their strengths and needs and apply evidence-based programs to match. Based on an analysis of local youth data, partners in Providence selected six Evidence2Success programs addressing specific community needs, such as chronic school absenteeism. The installation of the programs and the use of data to choose them have provided valuable insights over time, informing CYC’s development of Pivot to Prevention.