Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Children's Crisis Treatment Center

Name of Innovative Program: 
Caring Families
Sponsoring Organization
Children's Crisis Treatment Center
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Brian Engelmann
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
CcTC serves children with moderate to severe emotional or behavioral difficulties, and these children’s families are highly stressed by issues of poverty and trauma. Over 40% of families have histories of abuse, trauma, and/or neglect, and 40% of children live with foster parents or in kinship arrangements. Parents and caregivers may grapple with substance abuse, traumatic pasts, and broken or abusive relationships. Without assistance, families in crisis often cannot provide the support that children need to overcome significant behavioral challenges.To help meet this need, CcTC has developed a consumer advisory group called Caring Families. This group is comprised of 14 parents and caregivers of former and current clients. The group strengthens hundreds of families in Philadelphia by providing peer support to clients’ families and outreach to local communities who might benefit from CcTC’s services.
Creativity and Innovation: 
Caring Families is innovative because it is driven not by the organization, but parents of clients invested in improving the agency’s service to new clients. This is unlike any other behavioral health program in Philadelphia.Many families of new clients of CcTC attach a stigma to mental and behavioral health care, as they feel it implies they are incapable of or have failed in raising their children. The Caring Families help play an important role in overcoming this stigma. As family members of former and current clients, Caring Families brings an understanding presence and special perspective to new family orientations, parent support groups, and CcTC quality-management meetings. Caring Families has experienced similar situations as the families of new clients and can relate personal experiences about how they have overcome these problems and healed, as well as assist clients in the intake process and navigating between different services.
As a leader in the field, CcTC regularly shares relevant findings with peer agencies in the Greater Philadelphia region as well as at conferences across the country. The parent/caregiver support provided by CcTC’s professional staff addresses a common need among families with behaviorally challenged children. CcTC leadership takes every opportunity to hold the program up as an example for other behavioral health agencies to encourage replication.Each year, CcTC is invited to national and regional conferences to present the techniques, results and stories of children in our school programs. In April 2012, CcTC was selected as an honoree for the Award of Excellence in Behavioral Healthcare Management by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. For CcTC to be singled out for recognition from this vast and distinguished group speaks to the agency’s high level of service and ability to present its models on a national stage.
Caring Families falls under the purview of CcTC’s The Family Supports program, which enriches family life through educational opportunities, helps parents and caregivers to understand their child’s challenges, and promotes positive development. During the past few years, CcTC has successfully garnered private support for Family Supports through individual donations, corporate sponsorships, and foundation grants. CcTC aggressively pursues both philanthropic and public sector support to continue the group, requesting renewed support from our current contributors and seeking out connections with additional foundations and corporations. CcTC is also working to build up its individual giving program. In addition to grants and sponsorships, CcTC has successfully leveraged volunteer support to augment staff-led efforts. Volunteers assist CcTC clinicians in supervising the children of Caring Families members while they participate in the meetings.
Caring Families provides former parents/caregivers of former and current clients the opportunity to engage and inform families who are new to the treatment process. This group places CcTC on the cutting edge of the national movement to integrate consumers through organizational operations.Many behavioral health care agencies survey clients both at intake and at discharge as a means of assessing program effectiveness, but CcTC takes this a step further. The members of Caring Families meet and bring their firsthand experience to discussions on how CcTC can improve its client services; they then regularly report to the agency’s leadership at Quality Management meetings. This group of engaged CcTC family members can provide special feedback the agency might not get through conventional data-gathering. This model is both replicable in other human service organizations and of great value to organizations wishing to better integrate their clients into the process.
Caring Families of CcTC is a consumer-driven advisory board and not a direct-service program but does have significant outputs. During the past program year, there was a 75% attendance rate at all meetings, and a 100% attendance rate for volunteering at events hosted by CcTC’s Development department (i.e. special events and the agency’s annual Holiday Toy Drive). The group has already implemented several new initiatives including the development of marketing strategies (i.e. back-to-school events, flyers, neighborhood-based strategies); participated in service-related activities such as consumer orientations; provided peer support in the form of support groups and peer mentoring, and reviewing CcTC program brochures, manuals, and forms and providing feedback.CcTC measures the number of new families that enter the agency and also attend an orientation session; the number of families who started at CcTC due to “Caring Families” initiatives; and the number of families that participate in peer support groups.