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Youth First

The Youth First project is a partnership between the Catalyst Center and Casey Family Programs. Youth First is a demonstration project for the state of California that seeks to identify new program designs that meet the needs of youth with complex challenges, with a focus on individualized services and supports focused on permanency. The project will build on the existing ISFC and STRTP license categories as the foundation for the new programs (also referred to as “Enhanced ISFC,” “ISFC Plus,” “STRTP of One”). The project team will work with both county agencies and service providers that are interested in designing these specialized supports and services for youth. The team will provide technical assistance and a learning community for participants to design programs, staffing models, clinical practices, budget development, licensing, and funding sources. 

Youth First will also have an evaluation component, and participating counties and providers will maintain important information in order to determine the efficacy of these individualized approaches. 

Optional Webinar
This is an optional webinar to describe the application process and answer applicant questions, hosted on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 from 12-1 PT. The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

Project applications:
County Application
Provider Application

All applications are due by August 31, 2021. Applicants will be notified of their status by September 30th.

For questions not covered in the FAQs below, please send an email to youth@catalyst-center.org.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions

Project FAQS

General Questions

How long will the project last?

The Youth First project is intended to last between 6 and 18 months for each County or Provider selected.

What is an Enhanced STRTP (E-STRTP)?

In the Enhanced STRTP model, agencies utilize a staff-based placement and service model under an STRTP license. These programs provide intensive behavioral health services, funded by EPSDT contracts, while engaging in care and supervision activities funded by an enhanced STRTP placement rate. Family finding and/or building a youth’s natural support system are often part of the program design. Youth are placed alone or with one other youth in a licensed STRTP facility operating with a significantly higher staff to client ratio compared with standard STRTP.

What is an Enhanced ISFC (E-ISFC)?

For agencies using the E-ISFC model, youth are placed in a family setting with a Professional Resource Parent with an enhanced payment rate for both the agency and the resource parent. Additionally, youth receive intensive behavioral health services funded through EPSDT contracts. Family finding and/or building a youth’s natural support system are often part of the program design. Typically, youth are placed alone in an E-ISFC family and staff are available to support the youth and family within the home 24 hours per day/7 days per week. Professional Resource Parents receive additional training, support and supervision that enable them to respond in therapeutic manner to very challenging behaviors while preparing youth for transition to more traditional placement and service programs.

Can we apply if we don’t have an existing partnership to leverage in creating the program(s)?

Yes. If selected, we will support you in building partnerships with counties and/or providers as needed.

Are these programs developed for specific youth?

While these services use a license category of either an STRTP or an ISFC, they are designed to meet the individualized needs of the youth identified by the county placing agencies as having complex needs that cannot be addressed in the currently available continuum of services.

Is this a national project?

Youth First Project and the individualized models will be developed for youth in California.

What will be the overall outcome for this project?

The intended outcome for this project is that youth in E-ISFC and E-STRTP programs transition to a lower level of care, ideally a family-based setting.

County Questions

Can we only work with providers that have existing MH contracts?

If you are open to establishing a MH contract with a new provider, you are welcome to list that provider on your application and work with that provider if selected.

Do we have to limit potential providers to those in our county?

No, you are welcome to partner with providers outside of your county. However, you would need to develop a MH contract with that provider to fund behavioral health services for youth in the program. Additionally, you would be encouraged to identify providers within your county as well in order to help youth stay connected to their family and other natural supports.

What kind of technical assistance is being provided by Youth First to counties?

Youth First will provide technical assistance around developing partnerships, flexible funding, developing budgets, program design, provider guidance, support in licensing/certifying program locations, permanency integration and staffing model design. Additionally, Youth First will offer cross-learning opportunities as well as peer-to-peer learning on enhanced care models. 

Provider Questions

Do we need to have Medi-Cal experience in order to apply?

Yes, the program is designed to build on the provider’s existing mental health experience to launch this new program type.

If we’re selected for the program, does it guarantee a MH contract?

No, Youth First will provide guidance on the new program, but cannot guarantee that a county contract will be signed, as those decisions will be handled by negotiations with the county.

Is there financial support from Youth First to pay for the staff time needed to design and launch the programs?

No. Youth First provides consulting hours to support the development of these programs, but not startup funding.

If selected for this program, will we receive a grant from Casey Family Programs?

No, Casey Family Programs will not provide grants directly to participants.

What kind of technical assistance is being provided by Youth First to providers?

Youth First will provide technical assistance around developing county partnerships, flexible funding, developing budgets, program design, provider guidance, support in licensing/certifying program locations, permanency integration and staffing model design. Additionally, Youth First will offer cross-learning opportunities as well as peer-to-peer learning on enhanced care models. 

What does staffing look like for these enhanced programs?

The staffing for these models will differ based on youths’ needs. The staffing model will be developed as part of the technical assistance provided by Youth First. An STRTP license and/or FFA license will be needed and there will need to be staffing available to respond 24/7 to meet a youth’s treatment needs. 

Can we apply jointly with another provider?

Youth First is designed to provide technical assistance to single providers interested in designing and launching these new programs; however, a partnership could be proposed if services can be provided seamlessly to meet each youth’s individualized needs. 

Is it required to participate in the evaluation components of the Youth First Project?

Yes, the Youth First Project is a demonstration project that intends to provide evaluation of programmatic designs and interventions, such that the models can be successfully implemented and adapted in other counties, and by other providers. Participation in the project will involve data sharing and project evaluation by the Catalyst and Casey Family Programs team.

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