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 12months 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 18months). 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.
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