Using Evidence-Based Practices to Improve Children’s Behavioral Health

A recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop examined how we can best implement evidence-based interventions that improve the cognitive, affective, and behavioral health of children.  One of the reasons that system level change is so difficult is the lack of measures that gauge the success of evidence-based programs as part of a broader effort within a ‘big picture’ framework.  Developing measures to facilitate system change often requires the development of parallel measures for program evaluation and staff assessment with regards to decision making and accountability. Linking administrative datasets; using quality measures to facilitate system-level change in health care, classroom, and juvenile justice settings; and developing tools to measure implementation of evidence-based prevention programs that are sustainable are several ways we can create a more effective services delivery system

At the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI) in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida (Tampa), these are issues with which we work every day, and our research reflects our commitment to improving the well-being of the children of Florida, their families, and the nation. The Institute carries out this vision through research, consultation, and technical assistance at the client, provider, and system levels.

Since 1974, FMHI has been actively developing and researching interventions to address behavioral health disorders and helping to develop and revise policies and legislation addressing behavioral health services delivery. FMHI faculty affiliates have participated in the evaluation of important expansions of Medicaid managed care to cover behavioral health services for children and adolescents, such as the integration of primary and behavioral health care for youth in the child welfare system, children who are transitioning out of care, and services for children who are in intensive residential settings.  

Our Interdisciplinary Center for Evaluation and Intervention, funded by the Florida Department of Education, is a Florida Diagnostic and Leaning Resources (FDLRS) specialized clinic that provides comprehensive evaluations and interventions at no-cost for school-aged students (3-22 years of age) who have complex behavior, developmental, and social/emotional challenges.

Our National Research and Evaluation Center (NREC) HIPPY USA advances the evidence base for the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program, a parent-involvement, school readiness program that helps parents prepare their three, four, and five year olds for school. 

Our Learning Academy at the University of South Florida is a customized transition program that assists in preparing young adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder for employment. The Learning Academy provides services, supports and experiential opportunities that develop and enhance each student's independence in meeting personal career goals. Our students engage in self-discovery and career exploration through real-life experiences such as internships and peer mentoring which allows generalization of learned skills.

Florida’s Center for Child Welfare, "The Center" supports Florida’s child welfare professionals, caregivers, and other cross program professionals by providing accurate, timely information and training.  A few of The Center services include, an extensive Resource Library, Comprehensive Video Training Library, answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and hosting live Web Events. The Center is also home to "Just in Time Training" (part of the Quality Parenting Initiative). This service responds to requests from foster parents for training topics and provides live and recorded training for foster parents, related caregivers and child welfare professionals.  

OurPolicy and Services Research Data Center is a recognized leader in the management of and dissemination of mental health data generated throughout Florida, handling the compilation, integration, and analysis of administrative and other data to make complex data systems more accessible.

Florida KIDS COUNT is a member of the Annie E. Casey Foundation nationwide KIDS COUNT Network that tracks that status of children in the United States and provides policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being

Our Center for Autism & Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida (CARD-USF) provides information and consultation to individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities as well as instruction and coaching to families and professionals through a training and assistance model.

Our Florida Center for Inclusive Communities (FCIC), funded by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, provides interdisciplinary pre-service preparation and continuing education, training and technical assistance, community services, research, and dissemination.  FCIC programs and assistance address the lifespan, beginning with early childhood, continuing with school-age children and young adults, continuing into adulthood.

For more information about these and other activities at the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences and the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, please contact Dr. Mary Armstrong, Executive Director FMHI. 

The College of Behavioral & Community Sciences serves more than 2,600 students with six undergraduate, nine masters, and five doctoral programs housed in seven academic departments/schools. The College is the home of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, one of the largest behavioral health research and training institutes in the country, and 19 specialized Research Centers and Institutes.

CITIATON: Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. (2015). Innovations in design and utilization of measurement systems to promote children's cognitive, affective, and behavioral health: Workshop summary. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.