Connecticut’s Behavioral Health Plan for Children provides a blueprint to ensure that the state’s behavioral health system and its services promote well-being and meet the mental, emotional, and behavioral health needs for all children in our state.

The Behavioral Health Plan for Children was created following the tragedy in Newtown as a comprehensive plan that looks across agency and policy areas to promote healthy development for all of our state’s children. Finalized in October 2014, the Plan has since guided the State’s work to improve children’s behavioral health systems.

Development and Implementation

The Behavioral Health Plan for Children was informed by input from many diverse families, service providers, and stakeholders at open forums, facilitated discussions, and community conversations held across the state. Information and links to activities used to collect input are found in Archived Work below.

Implementation of the plan is overseen by the Behavioral Health Plan Implementation Advisory Board, appointed by DCF, and led by three tri-chairs. The recommendations from three Behavioral Health Plan Implementation Workgroups are reviewed by the Advisory Board and inform its annual progress reports to the Connecticut General Assembly.

Plan Highlights

The plan provides an overview of the behavioral health services and supports for children in Connecticut and identified seven areas of focus to improve the children’s behavioral health service system in Connecticut:

In order to implement a system of care throughout Connecticut, system re-organization is needed that includes the integration of public funding, the creation of a Care Management Entity to streamline access and management of services, addressing areas of concern related to commercial (private) insurance; and creating an integrated data structure across the system of care.

Promotion, prevention and early intervention strategies are key elements of supporting healthy children. The Plan recommends implementing promotion and prevention models across all age groups and settings, providing consistent screening for behavioral concerns, ensuring families and service providers are equipped with knowledge of behavioral health, trauma, and serious mental illness, and developing effective programs focused on trauma-informed care and suicide prevention.

As Connecticut continues to invest and strengthen existing elements of the comprehensive service array, the Plan calls for specific investment and strengthening of the following areas:

  • early childhood interventions;
  • non-traditional/non-clinical services (i.e., faith-based services, peer support, after-school support, respite care);
  • care coordination, and behavioral health treatment;
  • expansion of mobile crisis services to avoid emergency room use;
  • and expanding school-based efforts to address mental and behavioral health within school settings.

Pediatric primary care is a unique setting that provides opportunities for identifying the needs of children with behavioral health concerns.Primary care and behavioral health providers can also be better integrated through a variety of strategies, such as: co-location of services, educational programs for pediatric primary care, and more.

To eliminate disparities in access, quality, and outcomes of care, the Plan recommends implementing and sustaining standards for culturally appropriate care, in accordance with the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS), as well as widening the availability of services that are culturally responsive.

Engaging family and youth as full partners is critical in developing and implementing a children’s behavioral health system. This includes developing the capacity of family members and youth to be equipped in advocating for system change and including family members and youth with lived experience in the governance and oversight of the behavioral health system.

Workforce is an essential component woven throughout the Plan, including at least 16 strategies that have clear workforce implications. The Plan calls for broadening the conception of who is part of the behavioral health workforce, and developing a workforce subcommittee within the governance structure to develop a more comprehensive approach to expanding, training, and supporting the workforce.

Plan Evolution

Since the creation of the Plan in 2014, elements of the seven key areas have expanded and evolved to reflect current needs – particularly as related to health equity, family engagement, and prevention of serious mental illness. The Connecting to Care initiative strives to implement an integrated network of care that addresses the expanded areas of the Behavioral Health Plan for Children by:

The initial Plan focuses on the importance of cultural responsiveness and implementing the National CLAS Standards in children’s behavioral health services. Connecting to Care has emphasized the importance of the National CLAS Standards in helping to address racial injustice and ultimately eliminate health disparities in children’s behavioral health.

While the Plan outlines that all professions must be adequately trained to support children’s behavioral health, there was a subsequent realization that families must be seen as full partners in their own service delivery as well as system change. Thus, workforce development has grown to incorporate training service providers to embrace families as full partners, as well as training and mentoring youth and families about how to share their experiences to inform changes to the children’s behavioral health systems.

In addition to better preventing and identifying potential behavioral health concerns for all children, a service gap for the early detection and treatment for psychosis has continued to be a prominent issue across both the children’s and adult behavioral health system. As a result, there has been an emerging focus to transform access, care quality, and outcomes for individuals and families impacted by recent onset psychosis.

Plan Implementation Advisory Board

Led by three Tri-Chairs, the Children’s Behavioral Health Plan Implementation Advisory Board collaborates to monitor implementation, reports annually to the General Assembly, provides recommendations to improve the children’s behavioral health system, and oversees workgroups.

Implementation Advisory Board Tri-Chairs* and Members:

Ann Smith *
Executive Director
AFCAMP

Carl Schiessl *
Senior Director, Regulatory Advocacy
CT Hospital Association

Elisabeth Cannata *
Vice President Community Based Family Services and Practice Innovation
Wheeler Clinic

*Tri-Chairs

State Commissioners and Executives

Vannessa Dorantes
Commissioner
Department of Children and Families

Jordan A. Scheff
Commissioner
Department of Development Disabilities

Deidre S. Gifford
Commissioner
Department of Social Services

Manisha Juthani
Commissioner
Department of Public Health

Nancy Navarretta
Commissioner
Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Andrew Mais
Commissioner
CT Insurance Department

Charlene Russell-Tucker
Commissioner
State Department of Education

Beth Bye
Commissioner
Office of Early Childhood

Sarah Eagan
Child Advocate
Office of the Child Advocate

Ted Doolittle
Healthcare Advocate
Office of Healthcare Advocate

Gary A. Roberge
Executive Director
Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division

Steve Hernandez
Executive Director
Commission Women, Children and Seniors

State Commissioners and Executives Designees/Representatives

Michael Williams
Deputy Commissioner
Department of Children and Families

JoShonda Guerrier
Deputy Commissioner
Department of Children and Families

Tim Marshall
Deputy Commissioner
Department of Children and Families

Kathryn Rock-Burns
Department of Development Disabilities

Tammy Venenga
Department of Development Disabilities

Joshua Scalora
Department of Development Disabilities

William Halsey
Department of Social Services

Ann Gionet
Department of Public Health

Mark Keenan
Department of Public Health

Amy Marracino
Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Colleen Harrington
Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Karin Haberlin
Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Gerard O’Sullivan
CT Insurance Department

John Frassinelli
State Department of Education

Scott Newgass
State Department of Education

Mickey Kramer
Office of Early Childhood

Valerie Wyzykowski
Office of the Healthcare Advocate

Catherine Foley-Geib
Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division

Tom Kocienda
Department of Corrections

Advisory Board Community Representatives

Tiffany Donelson
President & CEO
Connecticut Health Foundation

Tanya Barrett
Sr. Vice President
211 Health and Human Services United Way of CT

Elisabeth Cannata *
Vice President Community Based Family Services and Practice Innovation
Wheeler Clinic

Kendell Coker
Assistant Professor/Advocate
University of New Haven, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice & Forensic Sciences

Brunilda Ferraj
Senior Public Policy Specialist
Connecticut Community Provider’s Association

Alice Forrester
CEO
Clifford Beers Clinic

Hector Glynn, MSW
Vice President- Outpatient & Community Services
The Village for Families & Children

Susan Graham
Family Member

Grace Grinnell
Family Member

Doriana Vicedomini
Family Member

Carol Poehnert
Family Member

Beresford Wilson
Executive Director
FAVOR

Steve Korn
Medical Director
Anthem

Steve Rogers
Attending Physician, Division of Emergency Medicine
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

Carl Schiessl *
Senior Director, Regulatory Advocacy
CT Hospital Association

Lauren Ruth
Research and Policy Director
Connecticut Voices for Children

Ann Smith *
Executive Director
AFCAMP

Lori Szczygiel
CEO Beacon Health Options Connecticut
Beacon Health Options

Andrea Goetz
Beacon Health Options Representative
Beacon Health Options

Robert Plant
Beacon Health Options Representative
Beacon Health Options

Chris Bory
Beacon Health Options Representative
Beacon Health Options

Jeff Vanderploeg
CEO
Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut

Laurie Collins
School Based Health
CT Association of School Based Health Centers

Erica Bromley
Youth Service Bureau Association

Supporting Legislators

Liz Linehan
Co-Chair Children’s Committee
103rd District

Saud Anwar
Co-Chair Children’s Committee
Senate District 3

Henri Martin
Ranking Member Children’s Committee
Senate District 31

Anne Dauphinais
Ranking Member Children’s Committee
44th District

Mary Welander
Vice Chair Children’s Committee
114th District

Catherine A. Osten
Co-Chair Appropriations
Senate District 19

Toni E. Walker
Co-Chair Appropriations
93rd District

Craig Minor
Ranking Member Appropriations
Senate District 30

Mike France
Ranking Member Appropriations
42nd District

Mary Daugherty Abrams
Co-Chair Public Health Committee
Senate District 13

Jonathan Steinberg
Co-Chair Public Health Committee
136th District

Tony Hwang
Ranking Member Public Health Committee
Senate District 28

Heather Somers
Ranking Member Public Health Committee
Senate District 18

William Petit
Ranking Member Public Health Committee
22nd District

Catherine F. Abercrombie
Co-Chair Human Services Committee
83rd District

Marilyn V. Moore
Co-Chair Human Services Committee
Senate District 22

Eric C. Berthel
Ranking Member Human Services Committee
Senate District 32

Jay M. Case
Ranking Member Human Services Committee
63rd District

Matthew L. Lesser
Vice Chair Human Services Committee
Senate District 9

Jane M. Garibay
Vice Chair Human Services Committee
60th District

Whit Betts
Representative
78th District

Final Plan

The final Connecticut Behavioral Health Plan

The final Connecticut Behavioral Health Plan for Children was submitted to the Legislature by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families on October 1, 2014.

Behavioral Health Plan Implementation Workgroups

Data Integration
Urgent Care and Crisis Stabilization Units
Alternative Payment and Measurement-Based Care

Past Workgroups

Early Identification and Screening
Fiscal Mapping

Annual Progress Reports

The Children’s Behavioral Health Implementation Advisory Board submits reports to the Connecticut General Assembly annually on October 1. These reports provide summary of progress to date related to ongoing activities related to the promotion, prevention, identification, and treatment of children’s behavioral health across the state. The Implementation Advisory Board also provides additional recommendations and supplemental documents as needed to the General Assembly and system partners.

2020 Progress Report

VIew the 2020 Progress Report and accompanying documents.

2019 Progress Report
2018 Progress Report
2017 Progress Report
2016 Progress Report
2015 Progress Report

Archived Work

The development of Connecticut’s Behavioral Health Plan for Children was an important and inclusive process in developing the blueprint for our state’s behavioral health system. The Child Health and Development Institute (CHDI) collaborated with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families to gather input and develop the Plan with philanthropic support from the Connecticut Health Foundation, the Children’s Fund of Connecticut, and the Grossman Family Foundation. Connecticut DCF submitted the final Plan to the Connecticut General Assembly in 2014. Below are links to some of the activities used to collect input that informed the development of the final Plan:

Open Forums
Plan Development Meetings
Facilitated Discussions
Press Releases and Archived News
Family and Community Conversations