In recent years, the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) had received concerns regarding the Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health Services (Children’s Bureau). Four major themes emerged from this feedback relating to communication, regulations and policy, operational consistency, and system partner engagement. Last spring, OMHSAS engaged Mercer Consulting to conduct a study of the Children’s Bureau that included three two-hour focus groups with OMHSAS system partners, including representatives from RCPA. The primary goal of the review was to identify ways in which OMHSAS can improve internal operations as well as communication and collaboration.
On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary Dennis Marion shared both an executive summary of the Mercer Independent Study as well as his description of the steps forward that OMHSAS has initiated in response to the concerns and findings. The action items outlined by Deputy Secretary Marion are:
- Review and consolidation of regulations related to Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services (BHRS). OMHSAS will engage with stakeholders to draft regulatory changes with the expectation that proposed BHRS regulations will be released for public comment in mid-2017.
- Strategic reorganization of OMHSAS leadership. On March 7, Shannon Fagan joined OMHSAS as Children’s Bureau director, and Sherry Peters became director of the Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Program Development.
- Organization-wide effort to improve consistency and quality. Moving forward, OMHSAS senior staff will focus on identifying areas of potential improvement, developing strategies to strengthen internal and external processes, promoting an organizational culture of collaboration, coordination, communication, and cohesiveness, and monitoring progress towards addressing the concerns voiced by OMHSAS stakeholders.
- Emphasis on family and stakeholder engagement. The involvement of PACA, RCPA, BH-MCOs, and their contractors, played an integral role in working to identify issues of concern.
- A redefining of “customer service.” To address concerns relating to responsiveness and professionalism, internal meetings have been held to stress the importance of holding OMHSAS staff to high standards of customer service.
- Renewed focus on communications. In response to concerns regarding effectiveness of internal and external communications, Shanna Klucar was appointed as executive assistant to the deputy secretary on January 30.
OMHSAS invites RCPA members and other stakeholders to share comments and concerns regarding Children’s Behavioral Health Services to Shannon Fagan, bureau director, as well as the RCPA Children’s Division. In addition, members may contact OMHSAS leadership Sherry Peters and Shanna Klucar with more general comments and concerns.