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The Prevention Management Team: A Model of Care Coordination and
Service Delivery for Children
The objective of this study was to determine the satisfaction of those involved in the Prevention Management
Team (PMT), a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency case review and services planning consortium designed to evaluate
at-risk children and coordinate social services delivery in a rural county. Data for the study was collected from
three entities involved with the PMT process: agencies, parents/guardians, and school guidance counselors.
This study investigated whether each community agency perceived that it had an active, contributing role
in evaluation and referral, whether parents perceived that their child was appropriately served, and whether
guidance counselors perceived that the PMT was a timely and valuable service. Results suggest that this model
is perceived by the entities involved to be effective, collaborative, and helpful in a rural, school-based context,
and that those involved are generally satisfied.
It has been established that up to 20% of youth under age 20 have emotional and behavioral disorders
warranting intervention, and less than one in three children in need actually receive services (Surgeon
General's Report, 1999). The statistics for rural areas are even worse: 75% of children who need mental
health services do not receive them, and less than 30% of those that receive care actually receive
adequate treatment (U.S. Center for Mental Health Services, 1997). Clearly, there is a great deficiency in
the availability and quality of mental health services for children, and this need is especially amplified in
There has been considerable debate among mental health experts regarding the best model of care to
provide services to children. In the past, community mental health systems often failed to integrate services
they provided with other agencies, which could potentially enhance treatment (Oynett & Ford, 1996). The lack
of collaboration sometimes causes clients' needs to be overlooked, or allows for clients to become trapped in
an approach that is not most conducive for changing or improving their situation (Knitzer, 1982). One model
meant to combat the singularity of traditional service provision is a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary team model.
A multi-agency team is composed of a variety of organizations from the community; it is a group that draws
its resources from the cooperation of multiple entities. A multi-disciplinary team is a group comprised of
individuals from various fields, orientations, or professions that may or may not work for the same
entity. Professionals report that multi-agency service programs ease the task of coordinating information
about children and tracking their progress across time (Crowsen & Boyd, 1993). While multi-disciplinary teams
have been used often in urban areas, only recently has this model been considered in a rural setting (Kuder,
Gairola, & Hamilton, 2001). The implementation and evaluation of both a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary model
is rarely discussed in the literature, though, when it is discussed, specific advantages of this model of care
are evident, especially for use in a rural context.
While there is much descriptive research on purely multi-disciplinary teamwork, there are fewer empirical
studies documenting an investigation of the use of multi-disciplinary, multi-agency teams in mental health
settings. However, the literature reveals that multi-disciplinary, multi-agency teams have been found to be
effective in preliminary studies and that this type of service is especially useful in a rural setting as it alleviates
some cost and facilitates inter-agency coordination (Ciaran, 2003; Amundson, 2001; Oldenettel & Wordes, 2000).
The Need for Evaluation
Multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams vary widely, depending upon context and goals, and are rarely
integrated. Evaluative multi-disciplinary mental health team research is in its early stages, yet has proven to
be effective in identifying problematic elements and possible solutions (Moss, 1994). In order to understand the
true nature of multi-disciplinary teams, they should be viewed as unique, and should be evaluated separately, on
a case-by-case basis, rather than compared to a given model. Multi-disciplinary teams are used broadly and in
many different contexts that may produce results specific to that context. Regardless, the purported benefit of
this model of care, agreed upon within the literature, is that a multi-disciplinary team of community agencies
can provide targeted and coordinated care, and improve access to a wide range of services for individuals with
a variety of problems (Chenven & Brady, 2003). However, it has been argued that such systems of care are
overused and accepted as the standard for service delivery without an appropriate critical analysis (Galvin
& McCarthy, 1994). Thus, the literature emphasizes that reaching the ideals multi-disciplinary teams are seeking
to attain is dependent upon the overall perceptions of efficacy and the satisfaction of those entities involved in
or affected by the process (Oynett & Ford, 1996).
Although the multi-disciplinary, multi-agency team has been studied in a rural context (Amundson, 2001;
Kuder, Gairola, & Hamiltion, 2001), it has yet to be studied when implemented to assess, plan, and provide
services for at-risk children and families.
The current study seeks to address two issues deficient in the literature by evaluating a rural, multi-disciplinary,
and multi-agency team and surveying all components of the model: the referrers, the service providers, and
the service users. In this way, the picture of the particular team evaluated will take into account its rural
population and the limitations and benefits therein.
The Prevention Management Team
The literature reveals little about the use of a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency team in providing services to
children and families in the school-setting, and thus it is important to evaluate this model in such a context.
The objective of the current study is to determine the satisfaction and perceptions of efficacy of those involved in
the Prevention Management Team (PMT): a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency case review and services
planning consortium designed to assess at-risk children and coordinate social services delivery in Columbia
County. The PMT is part of a large, federally funded project called Columbia Acting Together for Children
(Project CATCh), conducted by the Columbia County school system in partnership with the University of
Florida. When the project began in 2003, Columbia County had significantly high levels of unemployment,
juvenile crime, domestic violence, sexual abuse, illiteracy, and drug use.
The PMT was created in an effort to develop coordinated treatment efforts for troubled youth and their families,
and as a way to pool community resources to provide a comprehensive service-planning structure in an
area otherwise lacking in behavioral and social services. Guidance counselors or teachers refer students
with emotional or behavioral problems to have a focused evaluation. After the assessment, more complex
cases, requiring the involvement of multiple agencies, are referred to the PMT meeting where the case is
discussed among community agency members in order to develop a plan of action for the child and family. Once it
is decided that a case will go to the PMT, parents and guidance counselors are invited to attend the PMT meetings
to discuss concerns or suggestions with agency members. The PMT is made up of representatives from a wide
array of community agencies. Meetings are generally no longer than one hour and take place bi-monthly. It is
during these meetings that agency members pool all collected information about the child and family and
share suggestions about the kinds of services that would benefit the child and family and facilitate entry into services.
The first hypothesis is that agency members believe the PMT is a worthwhile model that enhances the
service-planning process and stimulates community collaboration in a respectful manner. This hypothesis will
be investigated through the use of frequency counts. In order to gauge team members' feelings of the worth of
the PMT, the question "The PMT is useful for planning appropriate services for children" will be analyzed
using descriptive statistics and frequency counts. For the qualitative component, comments made during the
agency member interviews will be coded as positive, negative, or neutral and the percentages of these comments
will be analyzed to determine the overall attitude agency members have towards the PMT.
The second hypothesis is that parents whose children have been referred to services will believe that their
children are receiving useful and appropriate services as indicated by their satisfaction with the service-
planning process. All parents who sign a plan of action will be asked to participate. Of those parents whose
children were seen by the PMT, frequency counts will be used to gauge how well listened to parents felt,
how comfortable they felt attending the PMT meeting, how difficult or inconvenient the process is perceived to
be, and how satisfied they are with the PMT. A Pearson's correlation will be used to test for any correlations
among the questions of the survey to determine whether there are links between any aspects of the process.
The third hypothesis is that guidance counselors will feel that they contribute to the process and that
referred students are receiving appropriate services and it will be examined with the use of frequency counts of
data taken from several survey questions. The questions selected for the analysis are meant to gauge
the convenience of attending the PMT, satisfaction with time between referrals and the PMT, usefulness of the
PMT approach, the level of respectfulness to all parties involved in meetings, whether service planning is
efficient, and whether the plan of action is satisfactory. Additionally, the use of a correlation matrix will reveal
any relationships among questions.
The sample is based on those individuals involved in the PMT process since its inception in May 2003 through
March 2005. The catchment area is Columbia County, Florida, which is a rural area that has approximately
10,000 school-aged children. During this period, 138 cases were addressed. The participants are drawn from
the three different entities affected by the PMT: agency members, parents, and guidance counselors.
Each component is described separately in order to clarify and distinguish among the various methodologies
and procedures unique to each.
Participants. A total of twelve agency members were involved in the current study. Five agency members were
male and the remaining seven were female. All agency members were Caucasian, which reflects the
ethnic demographic of Columbia County.
Procedure and Measure. A sign-up sheet for an interview time was passed out to PMT agency members at
two agency meetings. Members who were not in attendance at either meeting were contacted by phone to set up
an interview time. Agency members were contacted by phone at the time they indicated on the sign up sheet
and were assured of interview confidentiality prior to beginning the interview. The interviews were guided and
semi-structured, geared toward investigating members' thoughts concerning several elements of the PMT.
The interviews contained four quantitative components shared by guidance counselor and parent surveys to be
used for comparison. Each quantitative item was scaled from one to five, a score of one signifying that the
participant strongly disagreed with the statement and a score of five signifying that the participant strongly
agreed with the statement. The investigator kept notes during the interview and later organized the data into
general themes for clarity and analysis.
Participants. A total of 21 parents (of 24 children) whose children received services from the PMT were
surveyed. The median age of the children was 10 and two-thirds of those children were male.
Procedure and Measure. Parents completed separate surveys expressly created for the purpose of
evaluating CATCh services and the PMT from the perspective of a service user. The questions were designed by
a group of researchers from the University of Florida. Each survey was scaled from one to seven, a score of
one signifying that the participant strongly disagreed with the statement and a score of seven signifying that
the participant strongly agreed with the statement. The parent survey consisted of 19 scaled, quantitative
questions and one qualitative component in which they were asked to provide any additional thoughts they had
about CATCh services and the Prevention Management Team. Parents were also asked to provide the number
of children who had been referred services by the PMT as well as their age, school, and gender. Parents
were contacted through their interaction with CATCh counselors. During the signing of the child's action plan
(which took place after the PMT meeting), parents were given the survey to complete. Demographic questions
were solicited: child's age, gender, and school name. If the child had been referred to the PMT, it was noted on
the form. Once completed, the material was returned to the University of Florida personnel.
Participants. The total number of guidance counselors who returned surveys was 18, eight from the
elementary level, four from the middle school level, and six from the high school level. All guidance counselors
were female, which is consistent with the very high percentage of female guidance counselors in the school system.
Procedure and Measure. Guidance counselors received their surveys through the Columbia County Public
School System mail. The guidance counselor survey consisted of 15 scaled, quantitative points and 3
qualitative components in which they were encouraged to provide any opinions they had about the PMT. Each
survey was scaled from one to seven, a score of one signifying that the participant strongly disagreed with
the statement and a score of seven signifying that the participant strongly agreed with the statement. The
questions targeted potential difficulties in the PMT referral process as well as overall inquiries regarding
satisfaction and utility. Additionally, guidance counselors were asked about the number of students they had
referred over the 18-month period and the type of school, whether elementary, middle, or high school.
They completed the surveys and returned them, via the same school mail system, in an enclosed envelope to
the office of University of Florida clinicians' office located in the Columbia County School Board building in Lake
It was hypothesized that agency members would believe that the PMT is a worthwhile model for service-planning
that stimulates community collaboration. To test this hypothesis, each of the four questions was analyzed to
measure the levels of respondents' agreement with the question and the percentages of respondents who agreed
or disagreed with the given statement (Table 1). The results of the frequency test on the survey question, "The
PMT is useful for planning appropriate services for children," indicate that the majority (75%) of agency
members strongly agree with this statement (n = 9) while the remaining participants (8.3%) agree with or
feel neutral (16.7%) about this question (n = 12). A small portion (16.7%) of agency members feel that the
PMT process is inefficient while the majority (83.3%) believe that it is efficient (n = 12).
Frequencies of Agency Member Quantitative Survey Responses
Response Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
I understand the CATCh referral, assessment, and
8.3% 25.0% 66.7%
service planning process
PMT is convenient for me to attend ----- -- 16.7% 25.0% 58.3%
PMT is useful for planning appropriate services for
16.7% 8.3% 75.0%
PMT process is efficient ----- 16.7% ----- 58.3% 25.0%
Once coded, qualitative data indicated that agency members had overwhelmingly positive perceptions of the
PMT. Analysis of the data revealed that 54.5 % of comments made by those surveyed were positive in nature.
The most common comments were in regard to the PMT's facilitation of community agency collaboration and the
high level of comfort members felt when sharing information at the PMT. However, 29.5% of comments
were negative and mainly cited the lack of follow-up information about children previously serviced by the PMT
and the lack of parental involvement as the main causes of consternation. Additionally, 16.0% of comments
were coded as neutral and consisted mainly of recommendations that were outside of the scope of the PMT (e.
g., need for more after-school care, better school-safety tactics).
It was hypothesized that those parents whose children were evaluated by the PMT would believe that their
children are receiving useful and appropriate services through the PMT as indicated by their levels of satisfaction
with the service-planning process that takes place during the PMT meetings. A majority of parents whose
children were seen by the PMT disagree with the statement, "We had to wait too long for the PMT" (n = 20, P
= 95.3), however, one parent mildly agreed with the statement (n = 1, P = 4.8). Additionally, 100.0% of
these parents felt that they were listened to and felt comfortable sharing their thoughts during the PMT meetings
(n = 23). All of these parents disagreed with the statement that participating in the PMT was inconvenient (n = 23,
P = 100.0) and all responding parents indicated that seeking services was not difficult (n = 20, P = 100.0).
Finally, 90.0% of parents with children who went to the PMT are satisfied with the PMT while 5.0% are unsure
about their satisfaction and 5.0% are very dissatisfied with the PMT (n = 20).
Frequencies of Parent Survey Responses
Disagree Mildly Disagree Unsure
Agree Strongly Agree
I felt comfortable
talking to U.F. during
I was listened to
I felt comfortable
talking at the PMT
I am worried about
We had to wait too long
for the initial
We had to wait too long
for the PMT
through CATCh has
I am satisfied thus far
----- 15.0% 75.0%
Of those parents whose children were seen by the PMT, a Pearson's Correlation revealed a significant
inverse relationship between their perception of wait time and satisfaction with services facilitated by the PMT (r
= -.806, p < .001): parents who felt that they had to wait too long for services expressed more
dissatisfaction. Furthermore, a positive relationship exists between the level of comfort a parent feels talking at
the PMT and how listened to they feel at the PMT (r = .691, p < .001).
It was hypothesized that guidance counselors would feel that they contributed to the PMT process and that
the students they referred received appropriate services. A test of frequency was conducted on questions created
to gauge feelings about PMT convenience, satisfaction with time between referrals and service provision,
overall usefulness of the model, level of respectfulness, efficiency of service planning, and satisfaction with the
final action plan (Table 3). The results indicated that the PMT is not perceived as inconvenient by 72.7%
of responding guidance counselors (n = 8). However, a percentage of responding guidance counselors mildly
agreed with the statement that the PMT is inconvenient (n = 3, P = 27.3). While 27.8% of guidance counselors
were dissatisfied with the time between referral and the PMT meeting, 39.0% of guidance counselors reported
that they were satisfied with the time lapse (n = 12). All but one of the responding guidance counselors agreed
that the PMT is useful (n = 11, P = 91.6). Additionally, 100.0% of responding guidance counselors agreed that
their views are respected by the PMT (n = 12). Most responding counselors agreed that the service planning
is efficient (n = 9, P = 81.8), and that the action plans devised by the PMT were satisfactory (n = 9, P = 90.0).
Frequencies of Guidance Counselor Responses
Disagree Mildly Disagree Unsure
Agree Strongly Agree
I felt confident that I
can explain Project
Project CATCh is too
Participating in the
PMT is inconvenient
I am satisfied with the
time between referral
The PMT is useful
I feel my views are
respected at the PMT
I feel the PMT is
I feel that the services
are equally available
----- 6.3% 12.5% 43.8% 31.3%
6.3% ----- 6.3%
----- 25.0% 25.0% 8.3%
----- 8.3% 25.0% 58.3%
----- 54.5% 27.3%
6.7% 6.7% 33.3% 53.3%
A Pearson's correlation revealed a significant inverse relationship between guidance counselor willingness to
refer children to the PMT in the future and their belief that the PMT is too involved (r = -.846, p < .001) and
a positive correlation was found between guidance counselors' belief that the PMT is useful and the possibility
that they would refer children again (r = .911, p < .001). An additional relationship was found between
guidance counselors' confidence in their explanations of the PMT to parents and the likelihood they would
refer children to the PMT in the future (r = .719, p < .005).
The purpose of this study was to determine whether the PMT model of service provision is perceived as a
beneficial and efficient way to provide children and families with the services they need. The overall results of the
3 hypotheses suggest that the three primary entities involved in the PMT are generally satisfied with the
model, indicating that it is perceived as useful in this rural, school setting.
The first hypothesis was supported by data and suggested that agency members involved in the PMT believe that
the PMT is a worthwhile model. A frequency test revealed that the majority of agency members strongly agreed
that the PMT was useful for service planning. Further analysis of the qualitative data indicated that agency
members had overwhelmingly positive opinions regarding the time commitment, the potential to help children in
the community, the quality of information provided at the meetings, and the meeting as an effective way to
enhance collaboration between the various agencies represented by the PMT. These results suggest that members
of the PMT feel that their efforts are beneficial to the children that are referred to them and are encouraged by
the collaboration they witness at meetings. Perceptions of team members indicate that the multi-disciplinary,
multi-agency approach undertaken by the PMT is indeed satisfactory to those involved and that this model
is appropriate for this particular setting.
The second hypothesis revealed the most strongly positive results, as parents who had contact with the
team responded that they are generally satisfied with many elements of the PMT. Results indicated that parents
were invited to attend meetings, and when they did, they felt comfortable sharing their opinions, and felt that
the PMT listened to their concerns. Parents reported that accessing services through the PMT was neither too
hard nor too inconvenient. These sentiments help to explain the overwhelming satisfaction parents felt about the
PMT process in general. In fact, several parents surveyed had two or more children receiving services via PMT,
and reported that both experiences resulted in improvements for their children. Comments made by parents on
the surveys indicated that parents are overwhelmingly grateful for the resources the PMT provided.
The third hypothesis also was supported by the data, suggesting that guidance counselors felt that they
contributed to the PMT process and were confident that the students they referred were receiving
appropriate services. A high percentage of those guidance counselors surveyed strongly agreed that the PMT
meeting was convenient to attend, that the PMT was useful and efficient, that there was a high level of
respectfulness among all parties involved, and that the action plan agreed upon for the child was
satisfactory. However, an issue that could be improved is the time between referrals and the PMT meeting. The
data suggested that guidance counselors would be more likely to refer students as long as they felt that they
could satisfactorily explain the process to parents and did not perceive the process as too involved, complicated
or time-consuming. Additionally, an integral component of obtaining future referrals is the perception that the PMT
is useful. The data indicated that if guidance counselors fail to see the PMT as useful, there would likely be
a cessation in referrals.
This major limitation of this study is the small sample sizes of the sub-populations surveyed. The types of
analyses that could be executed were limited due to the small sample sizes. The number of parents (n = 21)
sampled was smaller than desired by the experimenter due to data collection difficulties. The
administrators responsible for distributing the parent surveys at the signing of the action plan failed to distribute
the questionnaires throughout the entire survey period. Direct collection by the experimenter would have
yielded more accurate and complete data.
As suggested by Moss (1994), it is important to draw conclusions about multi-disciplinary mental health teams on
a case-by-case basis as they are broadly, and often haphazardly, implemented. As purported by Oynett and
Ford (1996), reaching the ideal that a multi-disciplinary mental health team can attain is dependent upon the
overall perceptions of efficacy and the satisfaction of those entities involved in or affected by the process. In
this study those perceptions were effectively targeted and they suggest that the PMT is a satisfactory method
to provide services to schoolchildren and their families in the rural community that was examined.
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