We evaluated the Starting Early Starting Smart (SESS) national initiative to integrate behavioral health services (parenting, mental health, and drug treatment) into the pediatric health care setting for families with young children. Data are presented from five pediatric care (PC) sites, drawing from families at risk due to demographic and behavioral health factors, with infants less than 12 months of age (n = 612). Families were randomly assigned to either the SESS program or a standard care Comparison group. We utilized longitudinal analyses to estimate differences in utilization rates for parenting, mental health, and drug treatment over 6 follow-up time points (3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 months). Our findings indicate that SESS caregiver participants were 4.6 times (p < 0.001; CI = 3.33-6.26) more likely to receive parenting services, 2.1 times (p < 0.001; CI = 1.48-2.86) more likely to receive outpatient mental health treatment, and 1.8 times (p = 0.025; CI = 1.08-3.14) more likely to receive drug treatment than Comparison group participants. Our results demonstrate the success of the SESS program in coordinating and improving access to behavioral health services for high-risk caregivers within the pediatric health care setting and highlight the importance of continuing to focus public health policy on the behavioral health care needs of families with young children.
- Caregiver behavioral health
- Integrated services
- Service utilization
- Young children
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies