MHA Past Projects

Child-Center Community Based Mental Health Initiative

Bozeman Health approached Mental Health America of Montana to convene key community stakeholders to participate in a “community conversation” regarding the development of a strategic community based child-centered mental health delivery system. MHA of MT agreed and formed a “Work Group” to include Vickie Groneweig – Chief of Nursing Operations for Bozeman Health, Deborah McAtee – Chairwoman of the Gallatin Mental Health Local Advisory Council, Shellie Aune – Director of Prevention Services for MHA of MT, Christine Powell – CEO of the Help Center, Carol Townsend – Former Gallatin Area United Way Director and Dan Aune – Executive Director for MHA of MT. The Work Group determined to have an informed discussion there is a need for the following:

  • Provide a gap analysis of children’s mental health and substance use treatment services

  • Engage key stakeholders and families

  • Research communities who develop a progressive child-center community-based plan

  • Provide as a deliverable a child-center service delivery plan to address how best to serve our children and families in the greater Gallatin medical community


Project work group meets bi-weekly and includes the following members:

  • Carol Townsend – retired Greater Gallatin United Way, CEO

  • Deborah McAtee – Gallatin County Local Advisory Council on Mental Health, Chair

  • Vickie Groeneweg – Bozeman Health, Chief of Nursing Operations

  • Christina Powell – Help Center, Executive Director

  • Shellie Aune – Mental Health America of Montana, Prevention Services Director

  • Dan Aune – Mental Health America of Montana, Executive Director


Key stakeholder meetings have been held with the following:

  • Bozeman School District Leadership

  • Gallatin County Local Advisory Council on Mental Health

  • Madison County Local Advisory Council on Mental Health

  • Park County Local Advisory Council on Mental Health

  • Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office

  • Eric Higginbotham, Children’s Mental Health Bureau, Chief


Project Outcomes:

  • Work Plan with an end date of June 15, 2017

  • Focus group questions

  • Contact list of key stakeholders

  • Initial Focus Groups scheduled

  • Research of 5 to 10 communities and their children’s mental health delivery system


Key Insights from current work:

  • Develop a delivery system that is transparent – meaning anyone wanting to access it knows how (parents, youth, educators, law enforcement, healthcare providers, clergy)

  • Delivery system must be child-centered and community-based understanding the communities in the greater Gallatin medical area are unique

  • Delivery system must be trauma informed with an emphasis on minimizing trauma at point of entry into the delivery system

  • Develop a provider registry which “vets” provider credentials

  • Financial sustainability is key

  • Needs to be a “consented” referral model/system to insure children are not lost or dropped in the delivery system

  • Collaborative partnership is critical with the primary goal being the care of the community children


Upcoming Activities:

  • Focus Groups being scheduled for Bozeman, Belgrade, Three Forks, Livingston and West Yellowstone

  • Meetings to be held:

    • Beaverhead County Local Advisory Council on Mental Health

    • Madison County Children’s Services Task Force

    • Park County Task Force on Mental Health

    • Addictive & Mental Disorders Division

    • Broadwater County Local Advisory Council on Mental Health

Compelling Issue

The greater Gallatin medical community lacks a strategic and transparent service model to care for children and youth experiencing a mental health crisis. The current system often exposes them to more trauma forcing access to services through the Bozeman Health Emergency Department (ED). The ED, while suited to triaging emergency physical needs, can be a stark medical environment adding to the crisis and exacerbating the mental health symptoms.


Bozeman Health has identified a growing trend for children and their families seeking psychiatric and/or mental health crisis services in the ED.  The ED’s initial assessment has revealed that many of the children presented do not meet the criteria for emergent care and the ED staff are often attempting to find less restrictive community based services. No current child/youth serving agency responds to crisis in the ED.


The best entry-point for children in crisis and their families would be community-based services which engage the family and community resources to meet immediate needs while developing continuum of care that is child-centered and trauma-informed.


As a pre-initiative process, MHA of MT has established a key stakeholder list, identified a convening process and has initiated a formal pre-initiative stakeholder meeting to finalize commitments, complete the key stakeholder list, determine desired outcomes and complete the initiative timeline. The key theme of the proposed work is to address how best to serve our children and families in the Greater Gallatin community has the following four components:

  • Component One: Engage key stakeholders through Focus Group meetings

  • Component Two: Provide a gap analysis of children’s mental health and substance abuse services

  • Component Three: Research 5 to 10 communities nationally that have a progressive child-centered mental health delivery system

  • Component Four: Develop a sustainable child-center community-based plan


The Focus Groups would be led by Dan Aune, Executive Director of MHA of MT with an emphasis on the following Talking Points:

  • Catalog current services and gaps

  • Identify readily available data on children’s psycho/social needs or development in our community

  • Understand current road blocks from a child & family perspective

  • Understand current road blocks from a first responder perspective

  • Understand current road blocks from a provider perspective

  • Determine the want or ideal child-centered community-based solution (one that looks like Bozeman)

  • Convene focus groups representing a diverse stakeholder group

  • Identify sustainable funding

  • Develop an on-going evaluation process for insuring the plan meets the needs and identifies strengths and areas of development

  • Provide a 3 to 5-year plan of action


The final plan document will include the following:

  1. Executive Summary

  2. Technical Assistance Goals

  3. Findings of Key Operational Activities

  • Recommendations

  • Recommended Child-Center Community Based Mental Health Delivery System

  • Next Steps – Plan Management

Mental Health America of Montana

406-587-7774

P.O. Box 88 Bozeman, MT 59771

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