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Measuring the Impact of Behavioral Health Services in Shelters
Pilot Study

Assessing Improvements in Outcomes 
of On-site Mental Health and Addiction Services 


Areas of Study:


1.  We are exploring the benefits of placing behavioral health specialists in direct client care positions in three licensed shelters to determine if the specialists’ interventions improve the outcomes for individuals and families.  


2.  We are monitoring how building bridges between emergency shelters and local community-based providers can increase referrals and sustain participation in treatment for clients. 

The Pilot will provide:


  • Quality data regarding the types of behaviors clients are exhibiting in shelters.

  • The degree to which shelter staff can be taught to more effectively work with clients in crisis or active addiction. 

  • How frequently the behavioral health specialists need to directly intervene.

  • If these types of interventions result in the client being able to remain housed in the shelter and able to receive services.  

  • Formalized asset mapping and collaboration with community-based behavioral health providers to capture a definitive picture of how unsheltered people experience treatment for co-occurring symptoms.   

Pilot Goals:
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  • Provide immediate crisis de-escalation in an effort to allow clients to remain in the shelter by helping them to manage their behavior. It will also provide much needed relief to staff members who do not have the advanced training to work with clients in crisis. 


  • Build relationships with both the client and the community-based behavioral health providers, engage clients (including the family of identified children) in effective long term behavioral health treatment. 

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  • Spearhead professional development for staff to empower them with more effective skills in working with clients with co-occurring symptoms, to include guest speakers, modeling, direct one-on-one coaching and system solutions for operating procedures that incorporate trauma-informed care, mental health first aid and client centered interventions. 

  • Ensure meaningful relationships are established with community behavioral health providers, as part of a coordinated system of care for individuals and families to access and utilize behavioral health services.   

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  • Collaborative networks will be identified and strengthened for each of the three shelters and will focus on designing systems that streamline referrals, shorten waiting times for people to begin services and provide support and incentives within the shelter to remain in treatment.  Critical to the success of this component is that the system is client-focused, built upon what meets their immediate needs. 

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