Massachusetts State House 1 Ashburton Place
My internship is with the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) in Boston, MA. CBHI is a division of the department of Health and Human Services which is a branch of the Massachusetts State Government. This organization was founded in 2008 in response to the case of Rosie D v Patrick which stated that families with children on MassHealth deserve more standardized and transparent behavioral health screenings. The mission of this organization is to prevent inadequate behavioral health screenings, promote community based care, and help children be successful in all domains of their lives. My organization specifically works to develop and improve the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool. CANS is used by clinicians and psychiatrists as part of a comprehensive analysis when they meet with children struggling with behavioral health issues. CANS is a standardization tool that allows health care providers can properly screen and assess both the needs and the strengths of individual children, so that the proper treatment plan can be made. My organization helps to train health care providers to implement the CANS into their practice, improves the CANS technology so that it best meets the needs of both the clinician and the patient, and works to provide many resources that families on Mass Health can turn to for behavioral health services. In a nutshell, CBHI provides the training and support to health care providers so that they can provide the most responsive and accommodating care.
This is a link to the CBHI webpage:
I will have various responsibilities within CBHI. I will attend meetings within the department as well as with health care supervisors to gain input on how to improve CANS and offer suggestions for training and screening development. One major task I will complete is the creation of an extensive list of all statewide training directors who provide Mass Health. This list will improve communication between our organization and those using our services so that training methods and materials will be more accessible and clear to those using CANS.
I found this internship with the help of Cynthia Tschampl who I met with in December. She directed me to a few internship postings that she was aware of, one of which was CBHI. In February I met with Deborah McDonagh from the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative. At the interview Deborah and I discussed my experience, duties of the internship, and each of our goals. Later in February, Deborah contacted me and told me that she would offer me the position.
In my first week I completed the CANS online training and took the certification test. I am now certified to provide CANS assessments. While I will not use this training because I am not a certified clinician, this training has helped me better understand what CBHI does and how CANS works. I also spent this past week attending meetings, one of which was with behavioral health providers in the Boston area. This meeting was both interesting and informative in helping me to better comprehend provider concerns, technological developments coming in the near future, and understand how collaborative work between many interests can work towards a common goal.
This is a link to a list of Newsletter archives that I read through this past week to better understand the CANS training program:
My impression is that everybody working to provide these improved behavioral health screenings is very dedicated. Everyone wants what is best for the children and their families. I believe that the projects I am assigned to are necessary and will be extremely useful in the future. This internship will teach me about policy making, the behavioral health system, and how to become an effective advocate. My hope is that the relationships I am developing now will continue years down the road when I go on to a future career with child advocacy and social work. Additionally, this internship will help me gain leadership skills, maintain professionalism, and develop meaningful connections.
Elizabeth Chalfin, ’15