Change Matrix’s Whole Lifespan Approach to Improving Outcomes for Young People

CM supports and services through ages and stages.

During 2018, Change Matrix was honored to support three SAMHSA-funded initiatives – Project LAUNCH, Project AWARE, and Healthy Transitions. That work gave us the opportunity to partner with grantees to help build early childhood systems that promote wellness, integrate mental health effectively into schools for pre-K through high schoolers, and ensure that states and communities put in place appropriate transitional services and support for youth and young adults. Our work spanned ages and stages from prenatal to age 26. In fact, we showed up in Tennessee to provide training and technical assistance for all three TN grantees. What an opportunity to think in a cross initiative way!

We facilitated a cross-initiative site visit for representatives from the three grantees, the Home Visiting Alliance, early childhood from education, System of Care and the TN Commission on Children and Youth. We learned a lot from these participants.

  • Cross-initiative communication offers opportunities to think in innovative ways. The grantees piloted innovative ideas in 1-3 local sites and learn from that experience in ways that would influence state policy.
  • Shared values and commitment help groups find commonalities as they promote change and high-quality services and supports.
  • Identifying common themes, different approaches, and lessons learned offered new ways of thinking and being. Participants began to see new ways of partnering to leverage statewide partnerships and practice change. They also realized a missed opportunity. Since none of these grantees shared local pilot or implementation sites, there was no opportunity to bridge the transitions between systems. Part of building a consistent and comprehensive system requires that as a child moves from the early childhood system to school, they will experience the same values, principles and similar practices. Consistency builds trust in the system and sustains the positive impact of the practice change in each system.

So how do we think differently? While there are workgroups in most states and communities to support children and families, it is important to maintain a focus on the whole lifespan. How do children and families move from one stage to the other confident that they will be met with the same values based services and supports throughout their experience? When there are SAMHSA funded initiatives for a specific population, an early effort should be made on both the local and state level to see the desired change within the context of a larger, community-wide system.

Change Matrix is committed to promoting and facilitating opportunities for individuals, agencies, and systems to convene to create a picture of their desired future and partner and plan to work towards achieving it.

Contributed by: Elizabeth Waetzig & Rachele Espiritu
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