At Saint Francis Ministries, our mission is to provide healing and hope to children and families. For the Clinical Utilization team at Saint Francis Community Services in Texas (SFCS), that often means connecting children and families with the right experts and community resources to stabilize a child’s behavioral, medical, or mental health. The Resource Connection is a new way to connect children and their caregivers with the needed resources within their home community, resources that often go under-utilized simply because they aren’t known.
Resource Connection engages community resource providers by inviting them to the table when SFCS meets about a child and what services they need. Wrapping services around a child and his or her caregiver can often make the difference between being able to keep the child here in their home community as opposed to sending them across the state or even outside of Texas to access the same services elsewhere.
SFCS, the Single Source Continuum Contractor (SSCC) for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) in Region 1, began coordinating paid placements for children in foster care and residential capacity building for the 41 counties in the region in January 2020. Since that time, many factors have contributed to a decline in therapeutic capacity across the State of Texas. The COVID‐19 pandemic has contributed to a significant staffing shortage and created other challenges in the realm of Behavioral Health, the extent of which we do not truly yet know. Additionally, greater penalties for an increase in licensing investigations that come with serving complex‐needs children has been a leading factor for remaining residential providers across the state to be wary of serving children with more complex needs.
SFCS has found that the combination of these and other factors have contributed to a rise in placement disruptions and the need to place children in out‐of‐state facilities or short‐term emergency placements, diminishing or prolonging the child’s chances for positive permanency.
In response, the Clinical Utilization Team at SFCS began building a database of resources within the community to wrap around a child, family, or placement to stabilize the child using a multi‐disciplined approach. Building on that, we have adopted a process piloted by the Wisconsin Association of Family & Children’s Agencies (WAFCA) to bring providers to the table to plan how the community as a whole can serve a complex‐needs child and contribute to their stabilization in each provider’s respective area of expertise.
SFCS envisions a process that:
The purpose of the Resource Connection is to locate treatment and services for children with complex behavioral health needs to support placement stability. To be successful, we need to partner efficiently and effectively, think creatively, and act with urgency. We value the expertise and experience of the professionals coming to the table and have established the following set of commitments as a framework for our joint efforts.
The centralized resource connection process will be streamlined, with a singular contact for requesting a resource connection session, and a virtual platform for presenting the child’s case so all providers receive the same information at the same time. This will allow placement and service providers to ask questions in real time.
Information shared electronically should not include identifying information. Presentations conducted virtually will not be performed on HIPAA compliant platforms; therefore, placing agencies are encouraged to refrain from utilizing the child’s name and/or other personally identifiable information during the session.
To be successful, we will need to draw on the full continuum of providers – from community service providers, to those licensing foster homes, to those operating GROs, shelters, and/or residential treatment centers. Multiple members from SFCS, such as the child’s Permanency Specialist, Permanency Supervisor, and the placement coordinator, will be needed as well, to ensure options explored can continue to be discussed amongst decision‐makers following the session.
The goal of each session will be to have all possible treatment options identified for the child, and to equip SFCS Permanency Staff and current or potential placement providers with contact information for the identified options so they can follow‐up with those agencies specifically to coordinate the child’s care.
Resource Connection sessions will be held on Wednesdays from 12:00‐1:00 p.m. CT via Microsoft Teams. One child will be presented each session.
Placing agencies and provider agencies wishing to participate in the resource connection process must review and agree to the terms outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Following receipt of the information from a provider, SFCS staff will add the agency’s contact(s) to the provider list and begin including the contacts in connection session announcements.
Following receipt of the information from a session request, SFCS Clinical Utilization staff will review the information for completeness.
Announcements and reminders regarding upcoming sessions will be sent via email to the provider list.
Announcements will contain the information provided in the session request so that individual providers can make an informed decision regarding their participation in the session.
During the session:
SFCS Clinical Utilization staff will review the ground rules for the session. SFCS Permanency Staff and/or Current Placement Staff/Caregivers will then utilize the Presentation Outline to share information about the child.
Following the session:
SFCS will take the option(s) and contact information from the meeting, discuss next steps, and strategize funding solutions (if needed).
Participants sign on. Facilitators introduce themselves, review the schedule, and briefly highlight the agreements made through signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.
The primary representatives (those who will be sharing information) from SFCS introduce themselves and share information utilizing the Presentation Outline as a guide. [Note: If the child and/or parent(s)/legal guardian(s) are present and are comfortable doing so, they may introduce themselves before the information sharing occurs.]
Facilitators and providers ask questions to gain clarity about child strengths, needs, and wants.
Brainstorming occurs to outline the best‐case scenario for care and treatment, with a focus on what would be needed to help the young person stabilize and heal.
Providers ask additional clarifying questions that help them determine whether they have ability to serve the child.
Based on the list of things determined to help stabilize the child, providers identify which service they would be able to provide and enter the following into the chat:
Providers who may have ability to serve the child but need to connect further with their team can note that in the chat box and follow up with
txreg1clinicalutilization@st‐francis.org after the team consult occurs.
The link to the session survey is posted in the chat, and the session adjourns.