What is the BIRCh Project
The BIRCh Project is housed at both UMass Boston and UMass Amherst, two of the state-sponsored, public research universities, to address the varying needs across the Commonwealth. The resource center at the UMass campuses draws on the expertise of the state universities and enhances the capacity of public schools to efficiently integrate behavioral health supports. This partnership improves access to community resources, promotes greater efficiency in utilization of services, and enhances the integration of non-academic supports across the school and community settings. Likewise, advancing the training for education and behavioral health professionals through the state’s public higher education system creates the opportunity for long-term and sustainable practices, particularly for schools that support some of the state’s most under-resourced communities (e.g., gateway cities). Moreover, UMass Boston’s ongoing partnership with Boston Public Schools and Boston Children’s Hospital Neighborhood Partnership Program on the work of the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model serves as a resource in the design of coordinated supports for students, schools, and families. The overarching goals are to enhance the capacity of public schools to efficiently integrate behavioral health supports and develop systemic structures (e.g., policies and protocols) that allow for efficient integration of community services.
About Boston Children's Hospital
The BIRCh Project is funded through a grant by Boston Children’s Hospital’s distribution of $5 million to 16 funded partners through its Collaboration for Community Health. This distribution is a portion of the hospital’s commitment of $53.4 million to support community organizations and public agencies to improve the health and well-being of children and families in Greater Boston.
Boston Children’s Hospital, the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is home to the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center. Its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. Today, more than 3,000 scientists, including nine members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine and 11 Howard Hughes Medical Investigators comprise Boston Children’s research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children’s is now a 415-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care.
State-wide resource mapping: student access to behavioral health services
Aiming to improve equitable access to services for students across MA, the BIRCh Project is conducting a resource mapping endeavor to identify the spread, capacity, and collaboration of school and community-based services. In developing a comprehensive map of behavioral health services available to students across the state, we hope to:
- Identify regional workforce assets and needs (i.e. compare ratios of school-based behavioral health providers to students across geographic regions with varying levels of economic need). Promote interagency collaboration and better alignment of programs and services for youth and families to ensure a broad, comprehensive, and integrated system of services. We will employ Social Network Analysis (SNA) to monitor the quality of relationships between agencies.
- Provide information on the availability of resources to schools and families to support them in navigating the complex system of services.
- Organize information to guide advocacy efforts for system-wide improvements, including workforce development and targeted training and professional development.
Please check out our [Hyperlink- Research Briefs] to learn more!
Professional development & online training
The BIRCh Project offers professional development to school professionals on the implementation of evidence-based school mental health interventions, social-emotional learning practices, strategies to create and sustain positive school climates, and conduct universal screening for early identification and intervention of student needs. Training opportunities draw upon implementation science to ensure treatment integrity and effective partnerships between school and community services - with an eye towards culturally responsive practice. Targeted trainings will include in-service trainings, webinars, and coaching to support fidelity of implementation.
The BIRCh Center Advisory Council is comprised of stakeholders representing school- and community-based agencies, parents, and professionals with expertise in school behavioral health. The Center will host six Council meetings annually which will serve to advise the Center on systemic challenges and potential policy solutions. The Advisory Council will mobilize stakeholders around a shared vision, consolidate resources to promote effective systems, enhance dissemination efforts, and work collaboratively to advocate for changes within state agencies.
More information coming soon!
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