Reflections and Highlights from FY 2023
Letter from the President and CEO
As we conclude 2023 at CHDI, I am reminded of a quote from Mother Teresa: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” It truly was a remarkably busy and productive year at CHDI, one in which historic federal and state investments were made in the children’s behavioral health system. Across that system, many stepped up to accomplish critical work, often under very challenging circumstances.
At CHDI, our contributions continue to be organized around four core areas: system development and integration, evidence-based and best practices, comprehensive school mental health, and quality improvement.
In our system development area, our work contributed to the successful design of Connecticut’s newest level of care. Four Urgent Crisis Centers, funded by DCF, are now providing alternatives to the emergency departments for youth experiencing a behavioral health crisis. We developed solutions to one of Connecticut’s most pressing problems, the children’s behavioral health workforce shortage. We also completed work on Connecticut’s third federal system of care grant and secured the State’s fourth grant to focus on strengthening school mental health services over the next four years.
In our evidence-based practices area, we trained nearly 300 clinicians to deliver a trauma-informed, evidence-based treatment. This contributed to the first increases in clinicians trained and children served since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These treatments achieved outstanding outcomes for children and families, with 64-87% experiencing reductions in the symptoms that led them to seek care.
Our comprehensive school mental health area expanded to meet the growing needs of schools and students. This year, we helped 360 schools through one or more of our initiatives, an increase of 74% from last year. We also partnered with the Connecticut State Department of Education to support comprehensive school mental health implementation in seven more Connecticut districts, bringing the total to 13 districts.
In our quality improvement area, Connecticut’s Mobile Crisis program for youth continued to distinguish itself as a national best practice, achieving high utilization, a 95% statewide mobility rate, and 85% of responses received under the 45-minute benchmark. We also successfully supported expansion to 24/7 statewide mobility. CHDI’s collaboration with the Innovations Institute at the University of Connecticut allowed us to provide expert consultation and technical assistance to five states seeking to implement similar models for youth.
Organizationally, we are growing and thriving. We added 10 new staff members in 2023 who will help us expand our impact. As we continually seek new ways to support this growing staff, we were pleased to be recognized for the second straight year as a 2023 Best Place to Work by the Hartford Business Journal. Throughout the year, our staff and Board dedicated themselves to learning anti-racist and equitable principles and translating that learning to our programmatic initiatives and our role as system change agents. In our Communications area, website traffic and social media impressions expanded significantly as we amplified our work to state and national audiences. Prudent fiscal management and positive market performance grew the CHDI endowment balance by 14% prior to distributions. Finally, together with our Board of Directors, we completed a new strategic plan to guide our work for the next three years.
I am deeply grateful to our staff, Board of Directors, state agency and federal funders, providers, schools, and many other partners for their collaboration in supporting children with behavioral health needs and their families. As an organization that continually looks ahead, there are many additional “drops in the ocean” needed. We must continue to address critical gaps in overall system funding and reimbursement levels, improve governance and decision-making structures, bolster the workforce, and expand the service array. At CHDI, we join hands with the many others who believe, as we do, that this work is important and achievable.
Jeffrey J. Vanderploeg, Ph.D.President and CEOChild Health and Development Institute