This report provides a global perspective on the evaluation findings of the Casey Foundation’s five-year Mental Health Initiative (MHI) for Urban Children, implemented in the early 1990s. The MHI created new ways of delivering culturally appropriate, family-focused mental health services to children in high poverty, urban communities, and worked with states to improve the policies and practices supporting these services. The report details background information, describes the three main components of the initiative, and provides a summary of the major accomplishments and challenges experienced in systems reform, governance and service delivery. A final commentary discusses the implications on future national, multisite, multifaceted initiatives.
Trust building at the relationship level is key to creating community change
Findings & Stats
Approximately 20% of all children have a diagnosable mental disorder.
Poverty Accentuates Problems
Poverty makes mental health problems more acute while inadequate services results in more kids of color spending time in foster care, special education, psychiatric hospitals and juvenile justice facilities–all at public expense.
Prevention Garners Participation
The focus of prevention and early intervention caught the attention of parents and communities as more children became eligible to participate in the mental health initiative.
Systems reform is a very difficult concept to define concretely and for people to understand.
Statements & Quotations
At the first meeting of the sites selected to be grantees in the Mental Health Initiative for Urban Children, Doug Nelson, Executive Director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, told the assembled group that this initiative was about learning – learning about such things as neighborhood governance, about building positive relationships between neighborhoods, local government, and state government, and about the provision of culturally competent services.
The Initiative was organized under a framework that included three critical components, Systems Reform, Governance and Service Delivery. With the assistance of technical assistants and evaluation staff, key stakeholders from each of the four sites developed and designed a logic model that organized implementation strategies that would allow them to work on each of these areas simultaneously.
The general consensus was that more time should have been allocated to MHI implementation. The five-year period was insufficient to adequately meet the goals of the Initiative and this affected all areas of implementation.