Older adolescents and young adults are under represented in the services of Community Service Agencies (CSA) as compared to younger children and youth.  Of approximately 3,800 young adults (ages 18 to 21) with a serious emotional disturbance living in the Commonwealth, only 120 participated in Intensive Care Coordination services in 2011.  Yet, in the same time period, this age group represented 9.5% of mobile crisis intervention use. 

Concerned that needed services and supports were not being provided before a crisis occurred, DMH and CBHI leaders obtained a grant from SAMHSA to increase access to CSA services for transition age youth.  The overall goal of the STAY Together Project (Supporting Transition Age Youth) is to engage young adults with a serious emotional disturbance (SED) in treatment and ensure young adult-friendly support.  

  1. Enhance the capacity of Community Service Agencies (CSAs) to deliver youth-driven Wraparound services for Transition Age Youth (TAY)
  2. Increase the participation and diversity of Transition Age Youth in Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) services
  3. Partner with, support, and educate parents and caregivers whose youth are transitioning to adulthood
  4. Create a state and community level strategy to increase awareness, support, and commitment to better meet the needs of TAY in their transition to adulthood
  5. Improve linkages between the CSAs, the child service systems, and adult service systems to better meet the needs of TAY

Engaging transition age youth requires different approaches than engaging families with young children.  A key strategy of the STAY Together Project is Achieve My Plan (AMP), which is an enhancement to the Wraparound approach used by CSAs. The Achieve My Plan (AMP) is a promising intervention that was developed by researchers at Portland State University, in collaboration with young people who have mental health conditions, service providers and caregivers.  For more information about AMP, visit the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University. 

Central to the STAY Project is the role of youth peer mentors and youth advisory groups, youth engagement strategies that build on DMH’s long-standing commitment and practice.

Six CSA are pilot sites for the STAY project:  Gandara Center, Community Health Link, Children’s Friend & Family Services, The Home for Little Wanderers, Wayside Youth & Family Network, and Justice Resource Institute.  

For an update on the STAY Grant, view the November 2014 presentation to the Children’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council.