Bassett Research Institute Helps Otsego County System of Care Achieve Excellence

This past spring, Otsego County System of Care (SOC) received high accolades from New York State Office of Mental Health for its work improving young people's access to mental health services with the help of Bassett Research Institute (BRI). New York's 'What's Great in Our State' awards coincide with Children's Mental Health Awareness Week each May and recognize people and organizations making significant strides in the field of children's mental health. Otsego County SOC received the System of Care Award for their community engagement serving youth ages 0 to 21.

A "system of care" spectrum of effective, community-based services and supports for children and youth at risk for mental health to other challenges, and their families. The SOC is organized in a coordinated network of partners committed to ensuring positive behavioral health outcomes for children and youth with mental health needs. Otsego County SOC partners include stakeholders from all child-serving systems in Otsego County: Schools, Government, Healthcare, Community-based organizations, families and youth peer partners, etc. Otsego County SOC's leaders have graciously shared credit for the program's success with their partners in this work — including the BRI.

"Bassett has provided our work with an evaluative component that is driving the system forward," says Marion Mossman, Otsego County SOC's Project Director.

"They assist our SOC by evaluating our services, identifying potential barriers, and introduce new evidence-based practices. This is quality, experienced work with a team of highly qualified professionals. Our providers simply wouldn't have access to this sort of expertise without them. It's phenomenal."

Partnering with the Community

The Bassett Research Institute Team
BRI's junior research investigator Melissa Scribani, research assistant II Mindy Robinson, senior evaluation coordinator Nancy Tallman, and director Dr. Anne Gadomski

A network is only as good as its ability to share information. One of BRI's contributions has been social network analysis of the paths of communication. "We use surveys to find the connections between partners within the network, then create a sociogram," explains Dr. Anne Gadomski, BRI's director. "It's a connected-dots style visual representation of the entire system of care. It allows you to see who is well-connected and who is on the margins."

"That sort of information allows us to allocate our limited time and energy strategically," says Mossman. "We can see both which areas are doing very well and which need improvement, then move resources from one to the other, in order to ensure the best outcomes."

BRI also collects data on student needs. "We are currently completing a youth risk behavior survey," says Dr. Gadomski. "That will give us a good cross-sectional analysis of what kinds of mental health or substance abuse problems kids are encountering. This allows the SOC to plan and catch trends early on." This sort of analysis is especially important as the SOC navigates the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, BRI analyzes outcomes and success rates in real time as well as after a given program is complete. In addition to helping Otsego County System of Care in their internal analysis, BRI data also simplifies reporting to the grant organizations that make the SOC possible. "We've actually received accolades from SAMHSA because all of our information is entered in a timely and accurate manner," says Mossman.

Beyond Otsego County

The Otsego County-BRI partnership has had benefits for the entire child services field.

"Dr. Gadomski has experience working with babies born with opioid addiction issues," explains Mossman. "That allowed her to make a compelling, data-backed case for SAMHSA to recognize neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) as a formal diagnosis. It was reviewed on the national level and approved. That's huge!"

"Our NAS numbers in Otsego County are modest, but there are programs all over the country that are now getting the funding they need to serve children and families in that category," says Mossman.

A Community of Partners

Although the resources Bassett contributes are unique, Mossman believes spirit of service beneath it all is common throughout the Otsego County System of Care. 

"A system of care enhances services by breaking down the silos that normally separate our work from one another. Bassett's willingness to contribute the Research Institute's expertise is one example of how partners can come together to provide better care, and treatment for our children and families. All of our partners have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to accomplish our goals. In other parts of the country, school districts are often reluctant to welcome community-based mental health services. That's not the case here. Otsego County schools have embraced the partnership and we have developed a shared commitment in care for our youth! Otsego County is a special place to live."