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FASD Research Review

Assessment and Prevention Programs

COMHAR, Inc.

Intervention Type

FASD Diagnosis and Intervention Subcontractors
(Local)

Project Contact Information

COMHAR, Inc.
Jaimee Arndt, MBA, Project Director
The Philadelphia FASD-SDT Initiative, 3825 Whitaker Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19124
Phone: 215-425-9212, ext. 282
Fax: 215-427-5757
E-mail: jarndt@comhar.org

Project Summary Statement

The goal of the Philadelphia Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) - Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (SDT) initiative is to improve the functioning of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders within the service delivery system of COMHAR Inc., using a family-centered approach. The target population for the SDT initiative is children birth to seven years of age receiving early intervention and/or behavioral health services (including outpatient counseling) from COMHAR.

Within the first year of the project, the service delivery system of COMHAR changed, eliminating a program serving the birth-to-three early intervention population. This change has decreased the overall number of children coming into the service system who fell within the birth-to-three age range. As a result of this programmatic change, the initiative continues to include children in the birth-to-three age-range, but will serve them as they enter other COMHAR child-serving programs, ultimately serving fewer children under age three than was originally predicated.

This program-level change within COMHAR enabled the inclusion of children in COMHAR’s other child-serving programs into the SDT initiative sooner than anticipated. Those programs include children in the three-to-five year old Early Intervention Program, BHRS (behavioral health and rehabilitation services), and Outpatient Program.

All children and families participating in the initiative reside in the City of Philadelphia, and receive early intervention services or behavioral health services from COMHAR. The phase-in of the additional programs presented some challenges to the SDT initiative and COMHAR staff, but allowed opportunities for enhanced collaboration and team work across programs, which will ultimately strengthen COMHAR and the SDT initiative.

For example, a more thorough integration of the SDT-related services into the COMHAR service delivery system took some time, and required several important changes to intake procedures and forms. Following the changes to those procedures and forms, now all parents of children birth to seven years of age who are new to the COMHAR system of care are asked to receive a child screening for an FASD as part of the program Intake process. A separate referral to the SDT initiative is not needed.

Identified Intake staff within each of the three child-serving programs at COMHAR has been trained to introduce the SDT screening process, to include important health screening information in the intake process, and to utilize with families the revised Intake and Consent documents that address FASD screening. The SDT Project Director and/or Case Manager reviews all completed screening forms and screening photographs. Children who receive a positive screen (meet the FASD screening criteria) are recommended for a diagnostic evaluation by the Project Director, and are referred to the Diagnostic Evaluation Team.

The SDT Project Director and/or Case Manager is actively involved in monitoring the scheduling of evaluation appointments with the diagnostic center, case managing the receipt of required documents, and assuring that scheduled evaluation appointments have been completed, while also engaging the family throughout the process. The SDT Project Director and/or Case Manager actively interacts with the Co-Coordinators of the diagnostic center to ensure timely scheduled evaluations and needed records are obtained, as well as actively follows-up with families prior to scheduled appointments to ensure scheduled appointments are kept and that families who require transportation reimbursement or parking discount assistance, or other supports receive what they need. This follow-up prior to appointments is designed to keep families fully engaged in each phase of the initiative, and to ensure that any challenges to their participation are addressed in advance and do not become barriers to their participation.

As with any new initiative, the FASD-SDT project has been a learning experience for all COMHAR staff, as well as the professional and parent members of the Task Force. The importance of ongoing collaboration with partners and open discussions with Task Force members cannot be emphasized too highly. Work on the initiative has been a positive experience for all partners involved. Project partners, with the support of the Task Force members have been able to successfully address and overcome a number of programmatic challenges thus far.

Our work this year on the initiative has led to several important accomplishments. We have learned to be even more flexible as an organization, accommodating specific and significant changes in: - Convening an internal Implementation Work Group - Revised Intake procedures and data collection tools (expanded section for health information) - Revised consent forms, providing consent for FASD screening - Rollout of the SDT initiative to additional COMHAR child-serving programs.

As a direct result of the above changes, we increased the number of children screened for an FASD, moving the initiative closer to meeting its goals of serving all children in the COMHAR system of care, and ensuring that all affected children with an FASD receive the support they need. Overall, our embrace of collaborative efforts and a willingness to be flexible continue to enhance our ability to provide supportive and efficacious services to children and families living with FASD.

Annual Evaluation Report 2010-2011 [ 110 KB PDF icon ]