First Focus on Children hosted a panel on analyzing the new national 9-8-8 crisis number on October 20th, 2022. Elaine Dalpiz and Averi Akulis from First Focus on Children facilitated the session aimed at discussing the current system and necessary changes for porting 9-8-8 to the child welfare space. Elaine Dalpiz highlighted the need for the federal government to take the lead on facilitating necessary changes at the state level and providing support and facilitating change in each program.
Liz Manly, Senior Advisor for Health and Behavioral Health at the Institution for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, begin the panel discussing the importance of analyzing the current system for trauma-focused delivery systems and having an immediate, responsive representative for parents calling the hotline. She highlighted many important factors including having a 24-hour call center, an expectation of face-to-face interaction within 1 hour, and a model that encourages up to 8 weeks of stabilization. She concluded that the model needs to look for intervention points instead of waiting for an emergency room visit from the family and focus on meeting the family in their home.
Sheamekah Williams, Director of Children, Youth, and Family Services at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, offered that from 2019-2022, Oklahoma’s Systems of Care helped 2032 youth experiencing crisis, 75% of which were determined to be clinically impaired and 52% of which showed a clinically significant improvement at a 6-month follow up. She also highlighted the importance of eliminating any barriers such as payment source and having a single access point for callers that is also customizable to allow maximum impact and connectivity. She concluded that this is especially important in BIPOC communities.
The panel concluded with Tim Marshall, Senior Advisor for Health and Behavioral Health at the Institution for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, who emphasized the need for a separate child welfare focus because “children are not little adults.” Marshall highlighted the importance of compassionate and active listening on initial calls, a fast response time, linkage to long-term services, and the need for the system to engage every local community service including hospitals, school, and mental health professionals.
By Chris Bennett, Policy Intern