Current Projects

Behavioral Health Scholars Program

Principal Investigators: Michelle Levy, AM; Alice Lieberman, PhD

Project Evaluator: Cheryl Holmes, MPA

The Behavioral Health Scholars Program supports MSW clinical student field placement in behavioral health practice with at-risk adolescents and transition-age youth (16-25) with a particular focus on integrated care. This program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA). The program began in 2014 and will continue through 2017.

Grant to help produce more behavioral health specialists for western Kansas.

Development of Resource Homes

Principal Investigator: Michelle Levy, AM

Project Coordinator: Ashley Palmer, LMSW (GRA)

Research Staff: Cheryl Holmes, MPA (Project Consultant)

The purpose of this project is to develop and implement a Targeted Recruitment Initiative, a set of research and practice-informed tools and strategies focused on recruiting resource homes in children's mental health. This study is funded through a partnership with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services that began in September 2014.

Development of Resource Homes Literature Review (pdf)

Evaluation of Cornerstones of Care Nurse Case Management Program

Principal Investigator: Amy N. Mendenhall, PhD

Research Staff: Sarah Tham, GRA

Since 2009, the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, has contracted with Cornerstones of Care to provide Nurse Case Management (NCM) for children in foster care in Jackson County, and in 2013 Cass County was added to the program. The Nurse Case Management Program aims to: 1) improve coordination of health care for children in foster care, 2) reduce health care risks that are unique to children in foster care, 3) increase positive health and mental health outcomes, 4) improve the placement stability for children in state custody, and 5) reduce the inappropriate use and cost of psychotropic medications. Cornerstones of Care has contracted with Dr. Amy Mendenhall to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in addressing these aims. The evaluation will assess the overall impact of the program on children in foster care by tracking individual child level outcomes, assessing community knowledge and satisfaction with the program, soliciting feedback and satisfaction from youth and caregivers, and evaluating impact of medication trainings and consultations on professionals. These evaluation activities will provide the program with feedback about potential areas of improvement and overall effectiveness of the program and feasibility of expansion. The evaluation is funded through a subcontract from Cornerstones of Care as part of a grant from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and it is expected to occur from January 2014 to January 2015.

Expanding Behavioral Health in Frontier Counties Through Circuit Riders

Principal Investigator: Megan O'Brien, PhD

Project Manager: Cheryl Holmes, MPA

KU staff is conducting the evaluation of a program designed to increase access to behavioral health services in frontier counties through the use of “circuit riding” therapists, Local Advisory Councils, and televideo. The work is conducted through a contract with Compass Behavioral Health using funds from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and United Methodist Health Ministry Fund and runs from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015.

HCBS/SED Waiver Wraparound Training

Principal Investigator: Stephen Kapp, MSW, PhD

Education Program Manager: Kris Matthews, MSW, LSCSW

This project provides wraparound information, education, and evidence-informed training to Wraparound Facilitators and technical support to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disabilities Services (KDADS) based on findings from the FY2011 Wraparound Medicaid Focused Study findings and recommendations and national wraparound literature. Focused study findings identified gaps and great diversity related to wraparound implementation and training experiences of community mental health center (CMHC) staff involved in the wraparound portion of the HCBS/SED Waiver for children and youth with serious emotional disturbance. KUSSW is piloting and conducting online and in-person wraparound training at CMHCs to assist direct service staff in implementing best practices that will improve client outcomes and facilitate more consistent statewide wraparound practices. KUSSW is assisting KDADS in identifying, developing, and implementing best practices strategies for expanding knowledge about statewide wraparound training program resources. KUSSW research staff are also exploring post-training mentoring and coaching methods.

I/DD Case Management
Principal Investigator: Amy Mendenhall, PhD

Project Coordinator: Whitney Grube, LMSW

Research Staff: Heather Lassman, GRA

Support services for youth diagnosed with an intellectual or developmental disability and their families are vital to community based care. The I/DD case management study involves exploring support services, specifically case management services and models, for youth on the HCBS-IDD waiver. The goal is to strengthen the system’s provision of case management services and to pilot a strengths oriented model with the I/DD population. In addition, a feasibility study and a case study will be conducted to determine if Strengths Model Case Management is an appropriate case management model for work with this population.

Kansas Adoption Permanency Project (KAPP)

Principal Investigators: Becci Akin, PhD; Alice Lieberman, PhD

Project Manager: Kim Bruns, MS. Ed

Research Staff: Aly Romero, GRA; Margaret Lloyd, GRA; Jackie Bhattarai, PhD Candidate

The KAPP project is a five-year, $2.5 million project with the principal purpose to implement a child welfare and mental/behavioral health system that: (1) uses evidence-informed and evidence-based interventions matched to the needs of children and families; and (2) promotes strong social-emotional well-being and permanency outcomes, especially adoption outcomes. Project KAPP will be sustainable statewide, disseminate practical and useful products to child welfare stakeholders, and serve as a model site for child welfare systems (especially those that are privatized);that seek to improve safety, permanency, and well-being. Our primary goal is the implementation of a comprehensive approach for ongoing trauma-informed, age-appropriate, functional and outcomes-oriented screening and assessment that will guide case planning throughout the life of a case, for all adoption-eligible Kansas children.

Related Publication:

Mariscal, S. E., Akin, B. A., Lieberman, A. A., & Washington, D. (2015). Exploring the path from foster care to stable and lasting adoption: Perceptions of foster care alumni. Children and Youth Services Review, 55(0), 111-120. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.05.017

Kansas Intensive Permanency Project (KIPP)

Principal Investigators: Becci Akin, PhD; Thomas McDonald, PhD

Project Manager: Kim Bruns, MS. Ed

Research Staff: Jackie Bhattarai, GRA; Sachiko Gomi, PhD Candidate; Yueqi Yan, PhD Candidate

KIPP is one of six cooperative agreements funded in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families’ Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII). PII is a five-year, multi-site demonstration project to improve permanency outcomes by targeting specific groups of children in foster care that experience the highest risk for long stays. PII aims to: (1) build the implementation and evaluation capacity of public child welfare systems, and (2) strengthen the child welfare evidence base for reducing long-term foster care. The initiative funded cooperative agreements between the ACYF and six grantees, each selecting a unique service approach to reducing long-term foster care.

In Kansas, KIPP is a statewide public-private partnership between the University of Kansas (KU) School of Social Welfare, Kansas Department for Children and Families, and Kansas’ private providers of foster care (KVC Behavioral Healthcare, Inc. and St. Francis Community and Family Services, Inc.). As a demonstration grant, KIPP is using a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of Parent Management Training, Oregon Model (PMTO) on well-being and permanency outcomes for families of children with serious emotional disturbance (SED). The project began in 2010 and will continue through 2015.

Related Publications:

Akin, B. A., Brook, J., & Lloyd, M. (in press). Co-occurrence of parental substance abuse and child serious emotional disturbance: Understanding multiple pathways to improved child and family outcomes. Child Welfare.

Akin, B. A., Bryson, S. A., McDonald, T. P., & Walker, S. (2012). Defining a target population at high-risk of long-term foster care: Barriers to permanency for families of children with severe emotional disturbances. Child Welfare, 91(6), 79-101.

Akin, B. A., Bryson, S. A., Testa, M. F., Blase, K. A., McDonald, T. P., & Melz, H. (2013). Usability testing, initial implementation, and formative evaluation of an evidence-based intervention: Lessons from a demonstration project to reduce long-term foster care. Evaluation and Program Planning, 41(0), 19-30. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2013.06.003

Akin, B. A., Mariscal, S. E., Bass, L., McArthur, V. B., Bhattarai, J., & Bruns, K. (2014). Implementation of an evidence-based intervention to reduce long-term foster care: Practitioner perceptions of key challenges and supports. Children and Youth Services Review, 46(0), 285-293. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.09.006

Akin, B. A., Testa, M. F., McDonald, T. P., Melz, H., Blase, K. A., & Barclay, A. (2014). Formative evaluation of an evidence-based intervention to reduce long-term foster care: Assessing readiness for summative evaluation. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 1-29. doi: 10.1080/15548732.2014.939250

Bryson, S. A., Akin, B. A., Blase, K. A., McDonald, T. P., & Walker, S. (2014). Selecting an EBP to reduce long-term foster care: Lessons from a university-child welfare agency partnership. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 11(1-2), 208-221. doi: 10.1080/15433714.2013.850325

Kansas Serves Substance Affected Families (KSSAF)

Principal Investigators: Tom McDonald, PhD; Susana Mariscal, PhD

Project Manager: Kaela Byers, PhD, LMSW

Research Staff: Yueqi Yan, PhD, GRA; Kiley Liming, PhD Student, GRA; Tina Woods, Student Assistant; Cali Welch, Student Assistant; Kelsey Smith, Student Assistant

The KSSAF project is a five-year, $2.9 million project funded through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administration for Children and Families Regional Partnership Grant. Regional Partnership Grants seek to promote interagency collaboration to enhance services for substance-affected families, with a specific focus of improving safety, well-being, and permanency for children. KSSAF is conducted in partnership between the KU School of Social Welfare, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, and the state’s two foster care agencies: KVC Kansas and Saint Francis Community Services Inc. KSSAF serves families with children ages zero to three who are in out-of-home placements due to reasons associated with parental substance use. KSSAF is implementing a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of the Strengthening Families Program: Birth to Three (SFP B-3) on safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes for children and families. The project began in 2014 and will continue through 2019.

Parent Support and Training (PST)

Principal Investigator: Thomas McDonald, PhD

Research Staff: Sharah Davis-Groves, LMSW; April Patton; Lori Daly; Kaela Byers, PhD Candidate, LMSW; Toni Johnson, PhD, MSW; Tiffany Koloroutis Kann, BA

The Parent Support and Training (PST) Team is engaged in two projects funded by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to promote family engagement in children’s mental health care. The first is a multi-site program evaluation to investigate the intervention effects of the PST Practice Protocol in relationship to caregiver’s perceived strain, social support, parenting strategies, family empowerment, and home stability through structural equation modeling. Specifically, we hypothesize that when the PST Practice Protocol is carried out with high fidelity and when team practices are family-driven, parents will experience decreased strain, enhanced social support, enhanced parenting strategies, and increased empowerment, which all mediate home stability outcomes for youth. The second project focuses on training and technical assistance supports to implement the PST Practice Protocol with high fidelity.

Previous phases of the research project are detailed in the following reports:

Parent Support: Building Structures that Support and Assist Children (pdf)

Developing a Study on Effective Parent to Parent Support Services in the Kansas Children’s Behavioral Health System (pdf)

The Parent Support and Training (PST) Services Outcome Evaluation and The Construction of a PST Services Evidence-Based Practice Protocol (pdf)

The Parent Support and Training Services: The PST Practice Protocol, Outcomes, and Fidelity Monitoring Procedures (pdf)

Implementation of the Parent Support and Training Practice Protocol with Community Mental Health Teams in Kansas (pdf)

The Parent Support and Training Practice Protocol - Validation of the Scoring Tool and Establishing Statewide Baseline Fidelity (pdf)

Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) Performance Information Systems Project

Principal Investigator: Stephen Kapp, MSW, PhD

Research Staff: Jeri Damman, GRA

The purpose of the project is to develop and implement outcome measurement across PRTFs providing residential treatment services to Kansas youth. Funded through the Kansas Department for Disability and Aging Services (KDADS), the project has been working with stakeholders since 2007 to develop outcome measures and an electronic, web-based solution for outcome-related data. The project currently works with PRTF facilities to provide ongoing technical support with their use of the Kansas PRTF Results Oriented Management (ROM) system and to provide research support to ensure outcome-related data-informed service delivery. Further information can be found on the project’s website at (coming soon).

Annual Report: PRTF Performance Information System Project FY 2013-14 (pdf)

Results Oriented Management (ROM): Web-based Reports for Children's Mental Health, PRTFs, and Adult Mental Health Services

Principal Investigator: Terry Moore, MSW

Research Staff: Allan Press, PhD (Associate Professor Emeritus)

The Client Status Report (CSR) has been developed as a web-based report system using the ROM Reports system software developed by KU. Reports are parameterized, giving the user the ability to select a measure, management unit (e.g., CMHC), and time period. A variety of views are available depending on the measure including trend (change over time), unit (comparing CMHCs, work teams), and counts (showing various outcome counts). Data are presented in user-friendly graphs and tables. KU staff continues to respond to user requests for modifications to the report system and technical assistance. The reporting system is being used to support children’s mental health, Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF), and adult mental health.

CBS WorkBench Reports:

July 2015 (pdf)

June 2015 (pdf)

May 2015 (pdf)

April 2015 (pdf)

March 2015 (pdf)

February 2015 (pdf)

January 2015 (pdf)

December 2014 (pdf)

November 2014 (pdf)

October 2014 (pdf)

September 2014 (pdf)

August 2014 (pdf)

July 2014 (pdf)

June 2014 (pdf)

May 2014 (pdf)

April 2014 (pdf)

March 2014 (pdf)

February 2014 (pdf)

January 2014 (pdf)

December 2013 (pdf)

November 2013 (pdf)

October 2013 (pdf)

September 2013 (pdf)

August 2013 (pdf)

July 2013 (pdf)

June 2013 (pdf)

May 2013 (pdf)

April 2013 (pdf)

March 2013 (pdf)

February 2013 (pdf)

January 2013 (pdf)

December 2012 (pdf)

November 2012 (pdf)

October 2012 (pdf)

September 2012 (pdf)

August 2012 (pdf)

July 2012 (pdf)

June 2012 (pdf)

May 2012 (pdf)

April 2012 (pdf)

March 2012 (pdf)

February 2012 (pdf)

January 2012 (pdf)

Strengthening Families to Buffer Toxic Stress

Principle Investigators: Kaela Byers, PhD, LMSW

Co-Principle Investigators: Thomas McDonald, PhD; David Lindeman, PhD

The Strengthening Families to Buffer Toxic Stress study seeks to promote healthy social-emotional development and long-term well-being for children experiencing adverse early environments. The purpose of this study, which began in 2012 in partnership with the KU Lifespan Institute at Parsons, is to: 1) develop a screening tool validated by a neurobiological marker of stress to enhance early identification of children ages zero to three who are at increased risk of developing a toxic stress response and negative long-term outcomes as a result of adverse environmental factors; and 2) pilot test a biobehavioral intervention (Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up; Dozier et al., 2006) intended to buffer the effects of this stress among young children in order to prevent changes to brain architecture and regulatory system development that result in negative health and mental health outcomes throughout the lifespan, while also building child and family capacity to cope with and withstand the effects of an adverse early environment. Phase 1 of this project was conducted with support from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services and in collaboration with Early Head Start programs in northeast and southeast Kansas. Phase 2 of this project is being conducted with support from the United Methodist Health Ministries Fund and in collaboration with Early Head Start and Smart Start sites in southeast and western Kansas.

Youth Strengths Based Case Management

Principal Investigator: Amy N. Mendenhall, PhD

Project Coordinator: Whitney Grube, LMSW

The Strengths Based Case Management Model is both a philosophy of practice and a set of tools designed to help people set meaningful and important life goals and draw upon both personal and environmental strengths to achieve them. The Youth Strengths Based Case Management (YSBCM) project involves collaborating with KU's Center for Mental Health Research and Innovation to adapt the adult version of the strengths-based case management model for effective implementation with youth that are 12 years of age or older. The goal is to strengthen how case management is conducted with youth in order to improve the mental health and overall well-being outcomes of youth in Kansas. Effectiveness of the YSBCM model will be evaluated by demonstration of the model in a pilot site. The YSBCM project is funded by the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services


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