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Our research was designed to promote the transformation of mental health care by increasing knowledge of supports, services, and policies that:

  • Build on family strengths;
  • Are community based, family driven, and youth guided;
  • Promote cultural competence; and
  • Are based on evidence of effectiveness.











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The Center's work between 2004 and 2009 focused on two related themes: 1) community integration for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders and their families, and 2) strengthening family and youth participation in child and adolescent mental health services.

The Center's research activities were concentrated on six major research projects:

Voices of Youth and Families was designed to gain understanding of community integration from the perspectives of transition-age youth, young adults, and caregivers, and examine links between the concepts of community integration, youth and family participation in individualized planning, empowerment, the effects of stigma, and recovery and resilience.

Transition to Independence evaluated a pilot school-based program that assists participants age 18-21 with mental health and developmental disabilities to successfully transition to employment and appropriate levels of independent living and use of adult social services. To achieve this goal, the project model combined mental health support with employment readiness and life skills training.

AMP: Achieve My Plan developed instruments to assess youth empowerment, youth participation in planning, and perceptions of the utility and feasibility of youth participation in planning. The project also developed and evaluated an intervention to increase the participation of youth and family members in the individualized planning and service process. Finally, the project developed a conceptual framework for understanding how the idea of recovery (as understood with respect to adult mental health) applies to children and adolescents. Research from the AMP project is being continued at the RTC for Pathways to Positive Futures.

Work Life Integration directly addressed the issue of community integration for the adult caregivers of children and youth with emotional disorders, specifically with regard to their ability to maintain employment. This project was designed to influence the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of human resource professionals, with a view to reducing stigma and increasing the family friendliness of their organizations. For more project details click here.

Transforming Transitions to Kindergarten focused on the families' experiences of the shift from preschool to kindergarten when children have emotional/behavioral challenges. We developed and tested a training intervention to increase the capacity of early childhood and kindergarten settings to meet the needs of these children, and a family-driven team-based transition intervention to promote the success of children and their families as they move from pre-school to kindergarten. The project also included a review of evidence-based practice in the field of mental health consultation.

Practice-Based Evidence conducted a case study in partnership with a Native American youth organization and the National Indian Child Welfare Association. The project addressed the need to conduct effectiveness studies of practices that are believed to be helpful, but for which little evidence exists. Aspects of this research are being continued through the "Finding Our Way" project at the RTC for Pathways to Positive Futures.




2010 Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children’s Mental Health, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.