Implementation and Mental Health Outcomes of a Service Cascade Linking Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health Systems: A Case Study of the Gateway CALL Demonstration
The mental health needs of children and youth involved in the child welfare system remain largely unmet. Service cascades are an emerging approach to systematizing mental health screening, assessment, and treatment referral processes. However, evidence is minimal and inconsistent regarding the effectiveness of such approaches for improving mental health service access and outcomes. In an effort to address this gap, this study presents a case-study of the implementation fidelity and treatment outcomes of the Gateway CALL service cascade. Study analyses involved longitudinal data collected as part of a larger evaluation of Gateway CALL. Specifically, descriptive and linear mixed model analyses were conducted to assess the implementation of service cascade components, and changes in mental health outcomes (behavior problems) among 175 children placed out-of-home during the study. Study analyses found that although fidelity was strong early in the service cascade, implementation began to break down once components involved more than one service system (child welfare, mental health). However, results also indicated that parent-reported child behavior problems decreased significantly over time, despite later cascade components being implemented with poor fidelity to the Gateway CALL service model. For children and youth involved in child welfare systems, service cascades like Gateway CALL have the potential to significantly improve both mental health service receipt and outcomes. To maximize the effectiveness of such approaches, later phases of implementation may require increased attention and support, particularly regarding processes and outcomes that cross child welfare and mental health service systems.
Bunger, A. C., Yoon, S., Maguire-Jack, K., Phillips, R., West, K. Y., Clark-Hammond, G., & Kranich, C. (2023). Implementation and Mental Health Outcomes of a Service Cascade Linking Child Welfare and Children's Mental Health Systems: A Case Study of the Gateway CALL Demonstration. Adm Policy Ment Health, 50(2), 327-341. doi:10.1007/s10488-022-01238-7