Implementation and Mental Health Outcomes of a Service Cascade Linking Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health Systems: A Case Study of the Gateway CALL Demonstration

Alicia C. Bunger, Susan Yoon, Kathryn Maguire-Jack, Rebecca Phillips, Kristopher Y. West, Gretchen Clark-Hammond, Christiana Kranich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The mental health needs of children and youth involved in the child welfare system remain largely unmet. Service cascades are an emerging approach to systematizing mental health screening, assessment, and treatment referral processes. However, evidence is minimal and inconsistent regarding the effectiveness of such approaches for improving mental health service access and outcomes. In an effort to address this gap, this study presents a case-study of the implementation fidelity and treatment outcomes of the Gateway CALL service cascade. Study analyses involved longitudinal data collected as part of a larger evaluation of Gateway CALL. Specifically, descriptive and linear mixed model analyses were conducted to assess the implementation of service cascade components, and changes in mental health outcomes (behavior problems) among 175 children placed out-of-home during the study. Study analyses found that although fidelity was strong early in the service cascade, implementation began to break down once components involved more than one service system (child welfare, mental health). However, results also indicated that parent-reported child behavior problems decreased significantly over time, despite later cascade components being implemented with poor fidelity to the Gateway CALL service model. For children and youth involved in child welfare systems, service cascades like Gateway CALL have the potential to significantly improve both mental health service receipt and outcomes. To maximize the effectiveness of such approaches, later phases of implementation may require increased attention and support, particularly regarding processes and outcomes that cross child welfare and mental health service systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-341
Number of pages15
JournalAdministration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, Children’s Bureau (Grant #90CO1104). This study was also funded in part by the Ohio Department of Medicaid, through the MEDTAPP program administered by the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center. Views stated in this manuscript are those of the researchers only and are not attributed to the study sponsors, the Ohio Department of Medicaid or to the Federal Medicaid Program. MEDTAPP HCA initiative funding supports teaching and training to improve the delivery of Medicaid services. MEDTAPP funding does not support the delivery of Medicaid eligible services.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Access
  • Child welfare
  • Children’s mental health services
  • Implementation
  • Service cascade


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