Volunteers of America Chesapeake and Carolinas Establishes a New Behavioral Health Center in Maryland
In 1896, Ballington and Maud Booth founded Volunteers of America with a pledge to “go wherever we are needed, and do whatever comes to hand,” to support their fellow Americans who found themselves in difficult situations. This basic principle has guided the organization’s efforts nationwide for over a century to help others during difficult socio-economic, wartime, and medical crises. Volunteers of America has chapters across the country, including the Chesapeake and Carolinas (VOACC), which serves Maryland, Virginia, the Dictrict of Columbia and North Carolina and South Carolina. VOACC is a faith-based, nonprofit organization whose mission as a Christian Church without Walls is to empower self-reliance and inspire hope through health and human services.
VOACC recognized the need for community-based, integrated physical and behavioral health care services. They responded by establishing the VOA Hope Center in Prince George’s (PGC), a “no wrong door” center that can serve clients regardless of their location or situation. With support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the VOA Hope Center has opened its doors to become one of only 3 funded Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics in the Maryland. A-G Associates is proud to be a part of the VOACC strategic leadership team that applied for and is now supporting the grant by providing overall program evaluation.
The Hope Center addresses a stark reality: The increased need for care and treatment of vulnerable residents with complex physical and behavioral health issues. And while there are many ways to access behavioral or health services, most facilities lack coordinated, integrated care for complex behavioral and physical health needs, nor do most facilities address the social determinants of health such as housing and employment. This makes the Hope Center unique. In addition to quality mental health support to the community, it offers community-based, culturally appropriate services that address all aspects of health through one central resource. The Hope Center follows a trauma-focused model that serves adults and children including:
The Hope Center provides services addressing:
- Serious mental illness
- Serious emotional disturbance
- Long-term chronic addiction
- Mild or moderate mental health
- Substance use disorders
- Complex health profiles
Under a two-year grant from SAMSHA, VOACC will develop the necessary credentials and infrastructure to fully qualify the VOA Hope Center as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). This initiative makes the Hope Center an important part of a state-wide effort to build an integrated and sustainably financed model for care delivery that increases access to mental health and addiction treatment, expands capacity to address the opioid crisis and establishes innovative partnerships with law enforcement and hospitals. The intent is to improve care, reduce recidivism and prevent hospital readmissions in states across the country.
A-G Associates has supported VOACC throughout the process of making the VOA Hope Center a reality, helping to develop the grant application, as well as preparing for and opening the facility. Now that the Hope Center is open, A-G Associates and the Hope Center Leadership Team are establishing goals, objectives, and projects to monitor implementation and sustainability, continue evolving the Center and its services, and assessing the progress of those efforts. Our support will enable VOACC to be accountable to SAMHSA in fulfilling grant requirements as well as to continuously improve its services to the community.
A-G Associates provides input to administrative and operational software development, training for the workforce, and support to the assessments of the quality of care based on client outcomes. Using data from multiple systems, A-G Associates assists VOACC with establishing metrics and evaluation processes to address three types of evaluation needs:
- Measurement of Services to Ensure Client Service Access and Excellence. Our evaluations will use multiple data points to monitor the impact of Hope Center on the community based on client activity and societal indicators.
- Infrastructure Development, Prevention, and Mental Health Promotion. Our metrics will assess the progress of expanding the Hope Center behavioral health workforce and outreach to other providers and other service agencies. We will also assess the effectiveness of behavioral health prevention and anti-stigma campaigns aimed at increasing the acceptance of behavioral health treatment.
- Continuous and Annual Performance Excellence. Our assessments would not be complete without evaluating program accomplishments against associated costs. We will track, report, and recommend improvements on both programmatic and financial performance. The VOACC will use the data for continuous improvements and to report progress to SAMHSA and other stakeholders. Because of the critical role technology will play in our assessments, we are also involved in the development and assessment of software used for integrating operations, budget development, modeling, and forecasting.
A-G Associates is pleased to be a part of the Hope Center Grant, honored to be trusted advisors of VOACC, and proud to serve the people of Maryland. Our mutual goal at the end of the 2-year grant period is to establish Hope Center as an integral part of the State’s efforts to provide essential behavioral health services to its residents – exactly as the Booths intended.