Massachusetts provides a unique opportunity for new marriage and family therapists to gain practical experience. The Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) was created by Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to implement the remedy in Rosie D v Patrick, a 2001 class action lawsuit filed on behalf of MassHealth-enrolled children under age of 21 with serious emotional disturbances. Through CBHI, MassHealth requires mental health clinicians to use a standardized behavioral health assessment tool, the CANS, and provides new or enhanced home and community-based behavioral health services. CBHI also includes a larger inter-agency effort to develop an integrated system of state-funded behavioral health services for children, youth and their families.
Mental health practitioners who provide services through CBHI agencies need to become certified to use the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) scale. Massachusetts requires therapists working with MassHealth children and families to proctor the CANS assessment upon intake and every three months during treatment. Massachusetts also requires therapists to complete assessments, treatment plans, and treatment plan follow-ups that are compliant with state regulations, generally supplied by the agency.
CBHI consists of six programs. Therapeutic mentors address daily living, social, and communication needs through community-based activities to improve social functioning via one-on-one mentoring relationships between the mental health professional and youth. Family partners provide support, education, coaching, and training to parents through one-on-one relationships with the parent(s) or caregiver(s). Mobile Crisis Intervention groups are available 24/7 to give short-term, on-site crisis interventions to children and families. In-home behavioral providers utilize Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) techniques to provide specific treatment plans to eradicate specific behaviors. In-home Therapy Providers utilize strength-based family systems and systemic collaborative approaches to promote healthier interactional cycles between family members. Intensive Care Coordinators (ICC) promote coordination between multiple state agencies and/or service providers to reach the youth’s and families’ desired goals and outcomes. They also provide assessements and referrals for family members.
CBHI exists in non-traditional settings: the home, a school, a community venue. It encourages therapists to evaluate the family system through the lens of strengths and needs, rather than problems, and prioritizes family and youth goals rather than therapeutic agendas. For more information about agencies that provide CBHI services, please read our Agencies in Massachusetts page.