In 2007, by legislative direction, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services’ Mental Health Division established the Thurston-Mason Children’s Mental Health Evidence-Based Practice Pilot Project (the Pilot) to provide evidence-based mental health services to children. Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) is the first evidence-based practice chosen for the Pilot. The Pilot enrolled 114 youth in MST between April 2007 and December 2008. The majority of these children (69 percent) were referred from the juvenile justice and public mental health systems; 14 percent were referred from the state’s child welfare system; the remaining referrals were from schools or other local partner agencies. The Legislature also directed the Institute to study the Pilot. Using linked administrative data from multiple state agencies, we produced a profile of the first 103 youth served by the program.
We found that 96 percent of youth enrolled in MST had prior involvement in at least one state system associated with juvenile justice, child welfare, or mental health; 70 percent of youth enrolled in MST had felony or misdemeanor convictions (50 percent had a history of detention); and 30 percent of enrolled youth had referrals to Child Protective Services that were accepted for investigation. Most (89 percent) youth enrolled in MST were previously enrolled in the public mental health system; the Pilot’s MST program is serving its target population. Subject to funding, a report on outcomes associated with enrollment in MST will be published in December 2009.