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February 2010Vol. 11, No. 1Implementing Mental Health Guidelines

A new resource from the REACH Institute, Mental Health Practices in Child Welfare Guidelines Toolkit, helps child welfare agencies address the mental health needs of children, youth, and families involved in the child welfare system. Developed with support from Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Foster Family-Based Treatment Association, the toolkit equips agency administrators and staff members with practical implementation tips, tools, and resources to integrate and sustain 32 mental health guidelines within child welfare agencies. The guidelines were originally published in a 2009 special issue of Child Welfare, 88(1), titled Mental Health Practice Guidelines for Child Welfare: Context for Reform.

The toolkit is organized into five topical sections:

  • Mental health screening and assessment
  • Psychosocial interventions
  • Psychopharmacological interventions
  • Parent engagement and support
  • Youth empowerment and support

The sections present each guideline along with answers to two key questions for child welfare agencies: Why is this guideline important, and How can I incorporate it at my agency? The toolkit then describes specific tools, interventions, and other resources that can be used to implement the guidelines. When applicable, resources are scored on a rating scale to indicate the level of evidence in support of their use.

The toolkit was prepared by Lisa Hunter Romanelli, Theresa L. LaBarrie, Shane Sabnani, and Peter S. Jensen, and is available on the Casey Family Programs website: