APT and Seneca Family of Agencies: Intensive Intervention in Lives of At-Risk Children/Families Drives Better Behavioral and Mental Health Outcomes

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APT and Seneca Family of Agencies Announce Findings of “Data Dive” Project

Applied Predictive Technologies (APT) and Seneca Family of Agencies announced today the findings of a project which showed that the time Seneca spends delivering mental health services leads to positive outcomes for at-risk children and families. The project was focused on helping Seneca, which provides services to children and families throughout California, to better evaluate and improve the effectiveness of its programs to best serve its clients.

During the data analytics project with Seneca, APT employees formed teams to focus on three core issues:

1. Time Spent Delivering Mental Health Services: Analyzed the impact of different treatment amounts (i.e., time spent with clients) on client outcomes to answer the question: does more time or more frequent treatments delivering mental health services lead to better outcomes?
2. Understanding Client Groups: Determined the characteristics of Seneca’s clients and how different programs are affecting different groups it serves
3. Mental Health Dashboard: Created an application that could enable Seneca to easily access and act on its data

Time Spent Delivering Mental Health Services
A team of APT employees used APT’s software to understand how Seneca is currently providing services to its clients and how amount of services varies by client and program characteristics. The primary performance metric analyzed was the CANS (Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths) assessment.

The team analyzed how CANS scores change over the course of a client’s enrollment in Seneca programs and found that the programs successfully reduce the number of “actionable items,” i.e., instances where actions are needed to improve the situation. The biggest impact was seen on improving an individual’s strengths and reducing “behavioral / emotional needs.”

Breaking down the results further, the team found that for community-based programs, in which intensive intervention is provided in the homes and communities of the children, youth, and families, additional service time is associated with fewer actionable items, particularly related to risk behaviors (i.e., behaviors that can get youth in trouble with authorities / caregivers, or put them in danger of harming themselves or others).

The team also investigated how CANS assessments over the course of the client’s enrollment informed changes to the amount of services Seneca provided. In some types of programs, the team saw that clients where the assessments show more acute needs do in fact receive increased amounts of service time. However, in some situations, there may be opportunities to ensure that the clients with increasing needs receive additional service time.

Understanding Client Groups
This team examined the distribution of client characteristics and identified four distinct groups, with the goal of analyzing how each of these groups received care from Seneca:

  • Clients with increased acuity across all CANS responses (indicating timely and/or immediate need of intervention)
  • Clients with increased acuity specific to Life Domain Functioning (this criteria rates how youth are functioning in the individual, family, peer, school, and community realms) and Risk Behaviors only
  • Lower risk male clients
  • Lower risk female clients

The team then analyzed how these different groups received care from Seneca. For example, it found that there were certain instances where Seneca may be able to reallocate its time to the groups with the highest current risk level. It also found that youth that had been with the program for a longer amount of time generally had different CANS profiles than youth who more recently joined the program. These findings will impact how Seneca provides care to different at-risk groups.

Mental Health Dashboard
While Seneca is incredibly diligent about the data it collects, Seneca leadership realized there was an opportunity to improve its internal dashboards to ensure managers and clinicians could make more use of the available data when making decisions.

A team of APT engineers worked to build a tool that rapidly pulls in data from Seneca’s CANS dataset. The speed of the new dashboard will improve Seneca’s ability to use this data to inform decisions. For supervisors, the new dashboard can help them obtain transparency into clinicians’ caseloads: the current level of need for each of their youth, the number of youth currently enrolled, and the average actionable items per youth in their case load. This dashboard is designed to help supervisors view data that will allow them to assign new cases and understand which staff members have bandwidth and might be able to take on new cases. The dashboard also can offer supervisors data about in which domain each clinician excels to better facilitate matching of new youth to clinicians.

For clinicians, the dashboard provides a historic view of their youths’ performance, while also highlighting their most recent CANS assessment and action items, helping the clinicians understand how to serve each youth.

Leticia Galyean, an Executive Director at Seneca, commented, “This process and partnership has exemplified APT’s commitment to the community. APT is helping directly impact clinical services by applying their unique approach to solving difficult questions. Throughout this process, Seneca has learned some directly actionable insights about our programs and will immediately review the opportunities that APT identified to further improve our services.”

“In addition, the dashboard that the team built offers complex, yet invaluable information to our managers and clinicians in an easily accessible and understandable format. Illuminating the treatment trends and impact areas over time allows us to step back and see progress, with the goal of making more informed decisions, changing treatment trajectories when needed, and amplifying successes. The time, support, and resources offered by APT has been truly remarkable,” Galyean said.

APT Principal Lindsay VanderHoff commented, “The work that Seneca’s dedicated team does on a daily basis is inspiring. I am thrilled that we were able to provide Seneca with insights that they will be able to quickly act on. It is also exciting to see additional examples of how Test & Learn can improve real world outcomes.”

About APT
APT, a MasterCard Company, is a leading cloud-based analytics software company that enables organizations to rapidly and precisely measure cause-and-effect relationships between business initiatives and outcomes to generate economic value. Its intuitive and proprietary Test & Learn® software utilizes sophisticated algorithms to analyze large amounts of data, enabling business leaders to conduct experiments and allowing them to make optimal decisions and implement business initiatives at scale. APT also offers products that support decision-making for specific business needs including transaction analysis, space planning, promotion design, category management and location selection. APT’s client portfolio features some of the world’s best known brands, including Walmart, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Victoria’s Secret, American Family, Hilton Worldwide, SUBWAY, TD Bank, T-Mobile, and others. APT has offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, London, Bentonville, Taipei, Tokyo, Sydney, and Chicago. Visit http://www.predictivetechnologies.com to learn more.

APT’s “data dive” projects are focused on helping local non-profit organizations improve their decision-making capabilities through the use of software and data analysis. APT employees from across the company volunteer on data dive teams to analyze key areas of interest for the partnering organization. Previous data dive projects were with DC Prep, Capital Area Food Bank, AppleTree Institute, The Cara Program, and Goodwill of Greater Washington.

About Seneca Family of Agencies
Seneca is an innovative leader in the provision of comprehensive services through a continuum of school, community-based, and family-focused treatment for children and families who have experienced high levels of trauma and are at risk for family disruption or institutional placement.

Seneca believes that children and youth do not themselves fail, but are failed by the system, a system unable to address their complex and specialized needs. Seneca has dedicated itself to providing a comprehensive range of community-based and family-focused services for children and families. This commitment to unconditional care means doing whatever it takes to help children and families thrive, even when faced with tremendous challenges.

About the CANS (Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths) Assessment*
The CANS is a multi-purpose tool developed for children’s services to support decision making, including level of care and service planning, to facilitate quality improvement initiatives, and to allow for the monitoring of outcomes of services. Versions of the CANS are currently used in 50 states in child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, and early intervention applications. The CANS was developed from a communication perspective so as to facilitate the linkage between the assessment process and the design of individualized service plans including the application of evidence-based practices.

*Description from the Praed Foundation: http://praedfoundation.org/tools/the-child-and-adolescent-needs-and-strengths-cans/

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Cathy Baker
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