By Mr. Lorin Smith (I Corps)July 13, 2010
Madigan Healthcare System wants to let the thousands of spouses and children of deployed service members know that they have not been forgotten, and behavioral health help is here for them thanks to the Child and Family Assistance Center.
Better known as CAFAC, the new Madigan pilot program's goal is to incorporate three existing Family-based behavioral health departments - Family Assistance for Maintaining Excellence, the Child Guidance Clinic and the School-based Behavioral Health Program - and have them be a fully-functioning one-stop shop under one head and have one phone number that gives providers, Families and patients the care they need.
"Soldiers can use Soldier Readiness Service and Soldier Evaluation for Life Service, but what about Family members' They are our main focus at CAFAC," said Director Dr. Lindsay Paden.
CAFAC came about due to the difficulty experienced by Families' inability to find care within the base's myriad behavioral health care services, Paden said.
That's why CAFAC leadership has decided to redesign the services under three sections: Adult Services, Child and Adolescent Services and School Behavioral Health Program Services.
"CAFAC will improve access to care for the base's Family members, reduce the stigma associated with receiving behavioral health care, provide uniquely-tailored services to military Families and be synchronized and aligned with the Army's Force Generation cycle," Paden said.
Nearly 9,000 children visited a behavioral health program at Madigan in 2009, compared with 6,000 children who saw a provider in the TRICARE network.
The higher caseload necessitated the the Army to look to programs like CAFAC, Paden said.
"We provide walk-in capability for adults to see a provider at FAME, we are conducting outreach to make Soldiers aware of when the stressors can be highest and we are ensuring our Soldiers' children are getting quality care in their school," Paden said.
The newest addition to the CAFAC triad is the School Behavioral Health Service, which offers 3,000 children at Joint Base Lewis-McChord's six elementary schools access to 17 behavioral health providers trained in child psychology, psychiatry and social work case management.
These behavioral health specialists will be integrated within each school's staff.
The teams will deliver clinical assessments and treatment or therapy in individual or group settings; even classroom intervention.
School behavioral health specialists will work with parents and teachers to ensure everyone involved in a child's well-being receiving behavioral health therapy get the attention he or she needs.
"Studies show that military children do as well or better than civilian peers when parents are doing well," Paden said.
"Having our providers in the base's schools will only help the children excel even more."