More than $2 million in federal grant money has been awarded to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to equip and support primary care providers across the state to screen, diagnose, treat and refer children with behavioral health conditions.
With the grant money, UAMS, under an agreement with Arkansas Children’s, is developing a program called Children of Arkansas Mental Health in Primary Care (CHAMP).
The primary goal of the program is to promote the integration of behavioral health in pediatric primary care in Arkansas by linking primary care physicians around the state with a pediatric mental health care team for initial and ongoing education, consultation and referral of patients who are under 18 and have behavioral health needs.
According to a press release, the pediatric mental health care team will consist of a child and adolescent psychiatrist, a pediatric psychologist and a care manager. The team will work with a curriculum specialist and a diverse, interdisciplinary educational team to develop the curriculum and conduct sessions using a network-based learning and guided practice model for medical education.
Arkansas Children’s will serve as the program manager in collaboration with the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and the Arkansas Department of Health.
The Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded the grant funds as part of its ongoing effort to help providers improve access to pediatric mental health services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable.
The initial group of providers targeted through CHAMP will be those in practices that are a part of the Arkansas Children’s Care Network (ACCN), which has 30 pediatric practices and 160 general pediatricians in its network and plans to add an additional 100 family practice providers around the state.
The grant provides $445,000 each year for four years, with an additional $300,000 in additional expansion funds provided the first year, for a total of $2,080,000 over four years, in addition to any non-federal matching funds.
The CHAMP project will focus in its first year on building a foundation, including assembling and hiring staff, conducting a needs survey of providers in the network, conducting patient focus groups, designing curriculum for sessions and establishing a telehealth process.
The second year will focus on analysis of the program’s first year’s results and expansion to additional practices; the third year, consolidation and expansion; and the fourth year, sustainability, including expansion of the program to additional community providers.