A Request for Proposals for a Consultant to Assist The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work and the Austin Child Guidance Center Develop a Collaborative Business Plan that Would Implement and Provide Professional Development in Evidence-Based Practices
The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work (UTSSW) and the Austin Child Guidance Center (ACGC) seek to establish within ACGC various evidence-based practices for the purpose of improving mental health services to its clients and to train staff, university students, mental health professionals, and others who work with children and families in the implementation of evidence-based mental health interventions and treatment practices. The two organizations have had a long history of cooperation. ACGC is a nonprofit, community-based provider of mental health services to children, adolescents, and their families offering individual, family, and group therapy; parent education classes; psychological assessments; and psychiatric evaluations. In addition ACGC has served as a field placement site for UTSSW master’s level students. UTSSW offers undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in the field of social work. Also UTSSW has undertaken a number of community initiatives and research projects with local, state, and national implications. For the last decade it has been an interest of UTSSW and ACGC to jointly work together to implement evidence-based practices whereby center staff, university students, professionals and others who work with children and families can learn to apply evidence-based protocols with clients. In addition, there would later be developed research initiatives that would arise as a result of the implementation of the services and professional development components.
This joint effort will support and expand these three critical components to:
- Develop and implement promising and evidence-based models that are readily accessible to children and families in need of mental health services;
- Offer education and professional development opportunities to staff, graduate students, post doctoral fellowships, and diverse community professionals in order to further their education and professional development in innovative and effective evidence-based treatment methods;
- Undertake research that will contribute to the greater body of knowledge regarding the implementation of evidence-based mental health interventions and treatment for children, their families and caretakers.
The following core values will guide this work:
- We value a community-based collaboration encompassing service, education and professional development, and research to enhance the development of evidence-based mental health services for children and their families.
- We value a true collaboration that involves learning in both directions, from academia to community practice and community practice to academia.
- We value collaborative relationships with clients that include listening to clients, learning from clients, and offering services that match their mental health needs.
- We value culturally sensitive practices in the delivery of mental health services for children and families.
- We value enhanced education and professional development for clinical students, clinical practitioners, and the development of clinical models that build transdisciplinary teams (e.g., teachers, ministers, physicians, law enforcement) that provide a mechanism for students and practitioners from diverse disciplines to learn how to translate evidence-based models of mental health practice to real world settings.
There is an immense gap between current research-based treatment knowledge and its use by community-based practitioners (Sanderson, 2002). Client access to needed services may be further compounded by the impending national shortage of qualified social workers, the largest providers of mental health services (NASW, 2006). There is also a growing urgency to develop and test culturally grounded interventions in community settings. More than ever, schools of social work need empirically supported training models to adequately prepare students for evidence-based practice, community partners to enhance the education and professional development of evidence-based practitioners, and settings to conduct research on effective community-based practices (Franklin & Hopson, 2006). Along with these national trends, there is an alarming rise in emotional and behavioral disorders and an increase in the severity of mental health diagnosis and co-occurring disorders (Insel & Fenton, 2005; Kessler, 2005). Severe mental health problems with co-morbid diagnosis are difficult mental health issues confronting communities throughout Texas and the nation and it is evident that professionals across disciplines (i.e., social workers, counselors, teachers, clergy, physicians, nurses, judges etc.) as well as others who volunteer their time to work with children and youth must be involved in solutions for these children and families.
This joint collaboration between the UTSSW and ACGC encompasses three core components: service, education and professional development, and research. Each component is interrelated building a comprehensive, community-based mental health institute with local, state, and national impact.
The partnership with UTSSW will allow ACGC to work more closely with the UTSSW to continue, to an even more significant degree, the development of promising community-based innovations and evidence-based practices, diffusion of new knowledge and service into the community, and to make lasting changes in the lives of children and their families. The demand for affordable mental heath services is increasing because Austin’s population has continued to grow, persistent childhood poverty remains, and Texas has the highest number of uninsured children in the United States . ACGC has a long and successful history of providing mental health services on a sliding fee scale using a multidisciplinary team of mental health professionals to families regardless of their income or ability to pay. ACGC has also expanded their work in the community to include services in the schools, at the juvenile courts, and more recently in partnership with UTSSW to provide mental health consultation to child care centers.
ACGC staff, as well as other professionals, will benefit from the ongoing professional development, implementation consultation, and clinical research in order to offer additional evidence-based treatments and help children and families with mental health needs. Although ACGC does implement some evidence-based treatments, the goal is to implement additional ones and to create adequate infrastructure to provide these ongoing services. The evidenced-based treatments will focus on, but are not limited to, some of the following.
One community-based practice model that ACGC has started to implement, for example, is solution-focused, brief therapy. This model was selected because about one-third of ACGC’s clients chose to receive four or fewer sessions, data that mirrors national trends in practice delivery. This model provides an opportunity for implementing and studying a promising community-based intervention that may work efficiently and effectively with families in the brief contact time that services providers may have with them. ACGC is working directly with Dr. Cynthia Franklin, Professor at The University of Texas School of Social Work; Insoo Kim Berg, founder of this promising brief therapy; and other nationally recognized solution-focused trainers in order to become a nationally recognized center of excellence in this therapeutic approach.
Current preparations are being made to implement the Parenting with Love and Limits program, developed by the social work practitioner/researcher, Scott Sells, Ph.D. The program helps parents or caregivers deal with difficult adolescents whose problems, if left untreated, may result in severe consequences. According to the Community Action Network report on Children’s Mental Health (May 2005), approximately half of the youth in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental disorder. The Parenting with Love and Limits model can also address the needs of the juvenile justice youths and is a good program for the prevention of severe conduct disorder. This approach provides opportunities to implement and study a promising community-based intervention that has been designated as an exemplary model by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Prevention. It also provides opportunities to partner directly with Dr. Sells and his Savannah Family Institute to provide ongoing staff development and to become a center of excellence on the model.
Dr. Mary Velasquez has recently joined the faculty of the UTSSW as Associate Dean for Research and Professor, and Director, Center for Social Work Research and Director, Health Behavior Research and Training Institute. One of Dr. Velasquez area’s of interest and expertise is in the field of motivational interviewing as related to health behavior interventions. Thus along with the implementation and training of students and professionals in brief therapy models and the family therapy model of Parenting with Love and Limits, motivational interviewing will also be implemented and taught as this approach is integral to both models.
Education and Professional Development
The goals of the education and professional development component are to provide university students, current mental health practitioners and other professionals with innovative opportunities to enhance their professional development; to promote transdisciplinary education, and foster practice collaborations; to develop curriculum and provide ongoing supervision and consultation in the implementation of evidence-based practice models; and to disseminate best practices in training around such models to local, state, and national communities.
Both the ACGC and the UTSSW have extensive education and professional development programs in place. As an academic unit of The University of Texas, the School of Social Work offers a range of educational program including undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in social work with an extensive field education program, a well-developed professional development program, the Protective Services Training Institute, and annual conferences, lectures, seminars, and research institutes. Likewise, ACGC has maintained a major commitment to education and professional development through its student intern program, monthly in-service training programs for its staff and the professional community, and its annual Children’s Mental Health Seminar. Building on the existing educational and professional development programs of the ACGC and the UTSSW, the initiative will support and enhance the mental health education and professional development programs available for undergraduate and graduate students, and mental health professionals. In addition, the initiative will offer a transdisciplinary focus aimed at targeting related professionals, such as teachers, law enforcement, pediatricians, nurses, clergy, child welfare workers, lawyers practicing in family law or juvenile justice as well as those who volunteer to work with youth such as scout leaders and mentors.
It is expected that along with the implementation of the models proposed and their training protocols that the process of implementation will be studied. Later, research could be pursued that would focus on examining the outcomes associated with the training and implementation of the models.
Request of a Consultant
Given this plan, both ACGC and UTSSW are seeking a consultant who would be responsible for developing a more detailed set of short-term and long-term plans, goals, and objectives for taking ACGC and UTSSW to the next level in its collaborative relationship in regard to implementing and training staff, students and professionals in various evidence-based practices.
The consultant would be expected to deliver a comprehensive business plan that would identify various options with recommendations for implementation in the following areas along with projected implementation costs for each of the areas, if applicable. The business plan should also develop a timeline for the next three years in regard to the various tasks that would need to be completed so as to assure a successful growth toward the desired goals.
A Proposed Governance Structure for the Collaboration
This section would describe the current governing structures of both ACGC and UTSSW and propose how the partnership between the two organizations would function in terms of clear lines of responsibilities, including the role of oversight and financial support. It would also be expected that the consultant would provide examples of memorandum of agreements, or any other legal instruments (e.g., contracts that would delineate all necessary relationships including financial obligations and fiscal accountability between ACGC and UTSSW).
An Investigation of Barriers and Costs Regarding Implementation
In order for the joint initiative to be successful in training individuals in the evidence-based models described earlier, the consultant will be expected to identify the barriers and costs associated with training the various types of students and mental health professionals in these models; the appropriate use of such models with given populations; that the models are implemented in such a way as to assure fidelity; and the collection of outcome data and the analysis of such data.
A Proposed Technology Plan
The consultant will make recommendations for the use of technology, specifically the use of audiovisual equipment for the purpose of training and education both of professionals as well as children and parents; and the utilization of computers, software, videoconferencing and web based applications for purposes of education, enhancing work flow, data collection and analysis. Along with these items there will be an accompanying cost plan for the hardware, software, content development and staff positions related to the technology.
A Proposed Space Requirement Plan
The consultant will be expected to present recommendations for future space needs and a proposed configuration of such space both for service delivery and training needs along with projections of building costs. The consultant shall consult with ACGC’s architect to determine the costs for building new space and a timetable when such space would be needed.
A Proposed Plan for Training Graduate Students
The consultant will make recommendations in regard to the feasibility and/or obstacles to expansion of current training opportunities, practicum placements, and internships now being offered at ACGC along with recommendations on ways to attract the most qualified university students. The consultant will also address ways to assure that there is a seamless connection between what is taught in the classroom at the UTSSW and their field experience at the ACGC in learning and implementing evidence-based practices.
A Proposed Plan for Offering Training to the Community
The consultant will make recommendations for offering training, ongoing consultation, and supervision in these evidence-based models to mental health professionals in the community and their adaptation to other related professionals, such as teachers, law enforcement, pediatricians, nurses, clergy, child-welfare workers, lawyers practicing in family law or juvenile justice as well as those who volunteer to work with youth, such as scout leaders and mentors.
A Proposed Plan for Integrating Evidence-Based Practices
The consultant will make recommendations in regard to how the evidence-based models will be best implemented or interface with the current ACGC service delivery structure and personnel.
A Plan for Interviewing National and Local Experts
The consultant shall interview a selected number of national mental health experts (e.g., John Weiss, Kimberly Hoagwood, Peter Jensen, Enola Proctor, and Harold Koplewicz) in regard to their knowledge and experience in the implementation of evidence-based models focusing on the mental health needs of children and families. In addition the consultant should interview certain key individuals in the community regarding their perception of need and the role the joint UTSSW and ACGC initiative can play in the various systems of care for children and families. Such individuals should include but not be limited to major providers, such as MHMR, Lifeworks, Peoples Community Clinic, and juvenile court. The consultant should also make recommendations in regard to how the initiative might relate to the new Dell Children’s Medical Center and the plans for the development of a medical school in Central Texas.
A Proposed Funding Stream
The consultant will research, identify, and make recommendations regarding local, state, and national funding sources – both public and private – that would have an interest in supporting the services and the agenda of the initiative. In addition the consultant will make available guidelines from possible funders as well as communicate with most likely funders to gauge their interest. Furthermore, the consultant will address the feasibility of establishing a revenue stream from individuals who would be willing to purchase training.
Minimum Qualifications of the Consultant
The consultant should have or have access to individuals either locally or nationally who have knowledge and experience in the development and implementation of social service programs and the writing of successful strategic and/or business plans. Their educational background should include an advanced degree (i.e., master’s or Ph.D. level) in one of the social sciences or business. In particular the consultant should have expertise in the following areas: diagnosis and assessment of organizational problems, research and analysis; systems development; and planning. The consultant should have experience and expertise in writing and presenting reports to governing bodies. Expertise in the mental health field is a plus.
It is anticipated that this is a one-time project and the deadline for responding to this request for proposals is no later than January 3, 2007. The scope of the project and schedule will be negotiated with the finalist but a final report is due no later than May 31, 2007. It is expected that one interim report would be made available for review and feedback to the UTSSW and the ACGC prior to the final report.
The prospective consultant should submit a bid to cover all costs for carrying out the tasks outlined above. Once a consultant is selected negotiations will take place to arrive at a final cost agreement.
To be considered in the selection of a consultant, please submit a letter briefly outlining how you would go about addressing each of the components of the business plan. The proposal letter should not exceed two-pages. Also include the resume or resumes of any and all consultants who would be involved in this project, their respective responsibilities for this project, and a summary of relevant experiences in working with similar projects with similar agencies.
The proposal should be sent by the deadline via email to email@example.com along with one printed version postmarked by the deadline to Austin Child Guidance Center, Attn: ACGC & UT Collaboration RFP, 810 W. 45th Street, Austin, Texas 78751.
Timeline and Deadlines
RFP Released: November 15, 2006
Deadline to Submit Proposal: January 3, 2007