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New Agreement with Cardinal Innovations to Boost Capacity in Mecklenburg County to Address the Most Challenging Child Welfare Cases

New Agreement with Cardinal Innovations to Boost Capacity in Mecklenburg County to Address the Most Challenging Child Welfare Cases

New agreements with three major Charlotte behavioral health providers help support more youth in foster care with the greatest needs.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (February 2, 2021) – Cardinal Innovations Healthcare announced today that it has completed new agreements with three major behavioral health providers in Charlotte to serve more youth who represent the most complex and challenging cases – seeking to strengthen a child welfare system that is stretched thin.

Through these new agreements – with Thompson Child & Family Focus, Alexander Youth Network and Pinnacle Family Services in Charlotte – Cardinal Innovations is working with these agencies to expand the number of children that they can serve and enhance the services they provide for children with severe behavioral health conditions. Without the added capacity, these children, many of whom have experienced trauma, may be left in situations where their needs are unmet, including hospital
emergency departments.

“Cardinal has taken a true partnership approach with Thompson to move fast, test new things, and to invest into short, intermediate, and long-term solutions for the network,” said Will Jones, CEO of Thompson Child & Family Focus. “I believe that the provider community is an untapped wealth of knowledge and experience that is now being tapped to help collaboratively get to the root cause of problems in our communities and build out services that will work. What has been most exciting is that they have been open to many of our ideas as it pertains to the needs of children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and everyone from the CEO to senior leadership have been responsive, collaborative, and solution-focused.”

Alexander Youth Network CEO Craig Bass is also glad to be a part of Cardinal Innovations new program. “Alexander Youth Network is very pleased to partner with Cardinal Innovations in an innovative approach to serving high-need young people. This opportunity helps us to advance our mission and strategic plan to offer a full array of behavioral health services to children and youth.”

Scott Martin, CEO of Pinnacle Family Services, said: “Cardinal shares our strong belief that every child has potential. We welcome this opportunity to partner closely with Cardinal Innovations to help strengthen the safety net for the most at-risk youth. We are committed to helping children heal from
traumatic events so they can reach their potential.”

Cardinal Innovations is contracted by the state to serve Medicaid recipients and the under-insured and uninsured, including coordinating behavioral healthcare for Medicaid-eligible foster children.

“Supporting the health and wellness of children in foster care is critical to Cardinal Innovations. We are pleased to partner with these Charlotte providers to expand the specialized care services they provide to high-need children who depend on them,” said Trey Sutten, CEO of Cardinal Innovations. “We strive to set the standard for excellence in managed care in North Carolina. These new agreements are part of our work each day to make real improvements to support children in foster care, giving them a better chance to succeed and thrive.”

The increase is part of a broader effort to improve Cardinal Innovations’ overall effectiveness at serving children entering foster care in Mecklenburg County and across its 20-county network. Other highlights include:

• Engagement with Child Maltreatment Consortium in Mecklenburg County, and identifying other local and regional collaboratives to address child welfare and at-risk youth.

• More timely screenings, assessments and authorizations for care (in December and January, 73% of all treatment authorization requests (TARs) and an average of 90% of foster care treatment authorization requests in Mecklenburg County were completed within 72 hours, Sutten said.)

• Aligning licensed, clinical staff with county department of social services’ offices.

• Improving focus on prevention by targeting outreach to pre-custody and early-risk identification programs such as Child Protective Services and In-Home teams.

• Re-deployment of Medicaid funds from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to counties to cover costs of preliminary or transitional care or to address social determinants of health such as food and housing for foster children.

• Establishing a plan with providers for specialized foster care programs that serve youth with more complex needs.

About Cardinal Innovations: Cardinal Innovations Healthcare is a specialized health plan and care coordinator for Medicaid recipients and the under- and uninsured in North Carolina with complex behavioral and special needs. Cardinal Innovations connects people with treatment and support for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders through a network of providers in their communities. The organization serves this important role in 20 counties. In 2020, Cardinal Innovations administered nearly $850 million for the care of 825,000 people in the region and invested more than $50 million to improve support systems and to respond to the pandemic.

Cardinal Innovations also works with local governments to address public health concerns such as homelessness, suicide prevention, child welfare and domestic violence through education, engagement and outreach.