The population of ARCH is comprised of homeless families who are sheltered in overflow motels in Albany and doubled-up families referred by Albany County Department of Children, Families, and Youth. ARCH’s goal is to provide these families with treatment to reduce substance use and trauma symptoms, improve overall mental health and self-esteem. The goal of ARCH’s case management services is to increase participation in trauma, mental health and substance abuse services, improve residential stability, and decrease homelessness. An extensive program evaluation includes both processes and outcome components to determine whether key outcomes are achieved. Information collected in the evaluation is shared and reviewed with program staff to facilitate program adjustments and quality improvement.
When asked about the programs greatest success, Project Director, Louisa Marra, explained, “Our greatest success has been the collaboration between our three [local] partner agencies, families, and our community providers. We have worked hard to integrate the expertise that we all bring to create a learning environment for everyone to learn and understand trauma, addiction, and the impact it has on us all.” Case management is delivered by St. Catherine’s Center for Children; substance education and treatment services are provided by St Peter’s Recovery and Addiction Center; a part-time trauma specialist and nurse practitioner are provided by Clearview Center Inc.; and ongoing evaluation and fidelity of the program is conducted by Advocates for Human Potential. Other important partnerships include Albany County Department of Social Services, Albany County Department of Mental Health, and community Substance Abuse treatment programs that are very supportive of ARCH.
ARCH staff is all housed in the same building and represent all three previously mentioned agencies. According to Marra, each agency brings their expertise to ARCH, but the entire staff carries the commitment and vision of a client-driven, integrated system of care. Marra continued, “It takes a special person to work in our program and be able to ‘step outside their comfort zone’ and stand in the shoes of their co-worker who must also do the same. Our staff is creative and open and willing to go beyond our defined roles to meet the needs of our families. We have a group of highly skilled talented staff who think creativity and are ever changing. They strive to partner with our families and community and provide a service to help families heal, grow and recover. To truly make this happen we also have the on-going support from our agencies.”
ARCH Staff in front of their office: Back row left to right, all from St. Catherine's Center for Children: Shaquana Turner, Integration Specialist/Case Manager Supervisor; Wendy Crookes, Case Manager; and Paul Collins-Hackett, Case Manager. Front row left to right: Brian Roland, Addiction Specialist, St. Peter's Addiction & Recovery Center; and Jenna Bernhardt, Trauma Specialist, Clearview Center.
Using Triad, Family Critical Time Intervention (FCTI), Sanctuary, and Motivational Interviewing, ARCH provides case management, substance abuse, trauma services and on-site childcare all in one location. Staff also provides childcare in shelters, motels and permanent housing while parents meet with their clinicians. All staff is responsible for meeting program needs. The addiction specialist and trauma specialist provide individual treatment wherever the family is comfortable (e.g., motel room, shelter, or permanent housing). Outreach and engagement is crucial for success, so flexibility is a must. ARCH also provides transportation to and from the program, which is located in the community where most of the families secure permanent housing.
Marra believes ARCH is unique because it strives to meet the needs of the whole family. Staff visits four motels where families are housed 2-4 times a week, knocking on doors to talk about the program and enroll families. Families can choose the level of engagement with which they are most comfortable. Many families utilize the program’s case management services and some choose to engage with individual treatment from one of the clinicians. Several families attend ARCH’s on-site groups, for which transportation and childcare are available. Community providers provide HIV prevention and testing, parenting groups, and early intervention screenings is conducted for children under five on an on-going basis.