Professional Partner Program
A significant activity that lead to the development of the Professional Partner Program was the Governor's Children's Mental Health Search Conference held in the summer of 1994. The Search Conference was convened to identify strategies to build an integrated system that promotes the provision of high‑quality, seamless mental health services for youth and their families throughout Nebraska. From this conference evolved the identification of the following key components: (1) a clear point of access to services 24‑hours a day, seven days a week; (2) a professional partner to assist families to navigate the complicated system of care; (3) a single, coordinated assessment addressing multiple agency requirements; and (4) flexible funding designed to avoid specific rigid service categories that fail to address unique concerns of an individual family's situation. The Professional Partner Program was developed around these concepts.
The initial appropriation in 1995 for the Professional Partner Program targeted children and adolescents with serious emotional disorders who were not Medicaid eligible, wards of the state or formally involved in the Office of Juvenile Services. The intent was to provide the opportunity for families to access needed services without making their child a ward of the state or going into undo debt. Region 3 hired the first Professional Partner in October, 1995 and began serving youth in late December, 1995.
The Nebraska Legislature appropriated additional funds in 1997 to enhance the public behavioral health system across Nebraska. The Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Health and Well Being (now known as the Division of Behavioral Health) utilized a portion of these funds to expand the Professional Partner Program in capacity and scope of those eligible for the program.
Beginning in July, 1997 the Region 3 Professional Partner Program began to serve, in addition to the initial population, children who are Medicaid eligible, wards of the state and/or formally involved in the juvenile justice system.
On October 1, 1997, Region 3 Behavioral Health Services in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Health and Well‑Being was awarded a multi‑million dollar five year grant to enhance the mental health system for families in Central Nebraska. This allowed Region 3 to dramatically expand the program's capacity. Congress later extended this grant to a six year period.
On May 16, 2009, Governor Heineman, signed into law LB 603. The bill provides additional services, support and professional resources to help Nebraska families dealing with children’s behavioral health issues, address the behavioral healthcare workforce shortage, and expand the array of behavioral health services eligible for Medicaid match. The bill helps address the gap in services for children with behavioral health issues by providing services and expertise to support children and their families. The bill provides additional funding for behavioral health services for children under the Nebraska Behavioral Health Services Act, including, but not limited to, the expansion of the Professional Partner Program and services provided using a sliding-fee schedule.
As of 2002, fifteen studies were identified which attempted to assess the effectiveness of the wraparound approach, two qualitative studies, nine pre-post studies, two quasi-experimental studies and two studies involving randomized clinical trials. The research base on wraparound includes the two randomized clinical trials. The results showed more favorable outcomes for the children that received wraparound. This was evidenced by a greater decline in behavioral symptoms, lower overall impairment and fewer externalizing, social problems and thought problems. Overall, the research base on Wraparound remains undeveloped in comparison to many child and family interventions, nonetheless, significant evidence supports wraparound’s effectiveness.