Quick Answers

You’ll find Quick Answers to basic questions here, like “How can I get effective mental health treatment and behavioral support started for my child in a month or less if I live in Bucks, Delaware or Montgomery Counties?” and “Why is it impossible  to get the same services for my child if I live in Chester or Philadelphia Counties?”

What exactly are “Intensive Behavioral Health Services” (IBHS)?

Pennsylvania replaced BHRS with IBHS in October of 2019 with a complete phase-out of BHRS in January 2021.  IBHS is very much like BHRS with additional training and bureaucratic requirements, and the complete elimination of any need to have psychologists involved in any aspect of the screening, diagnosis, supervision or treatment processes.  IBHS refers to in-home and/or in-school behavior support to address troublesome behavior in children under the age of 21 who need these services and receive them via Medical Assistance funding (at absolutely no cost to families whatsoever, regardless of income). Sometimes they are mistakenly called “wraparound” services. IBHS staff employed by the Institute for Behavior Change (IBC) are well-trained mental health treatment providers who specialize in the treatment of children with mental illness and behavioral disorders. Below is the description of the staff who could be working with your child.

Behavior Consultant (BC) providers have Masters degrees and experience in the use of behavioral psychology with children. If they work for IBC, they receive face-to-face supervision from their peers (other Clinical Directors) like all IBHS providers must, but in addition, they can have consultations with licensed professional psychologists to address important treatment planning and delivery issues.  They work closely with parents and teachers to design and monitor the child’s Treatment Plan on a weekly basis. They supervise BHT providers who carry out the child’s Treatment Plan.

Behavioral Health Technician (BHT) providers deliver 1:1 support to children according to a written Treatment Plan. They remain with the child for several hours at a time (typically between 10 and 25 or more hours per week).  The IBHS model allows those with High School diplomas to work as BHT providers as long as they have the same level of post-graduation training that is required for BHT providers who have Bachelors degrees.  BHT providers give advice to the child, correct misbehavior therapeutically, and prevent the child from taking steps in the wrong direction. They work closely with parents and teachers to help the child to be more successful at home, at school and in the community.

Mobile Therapist (MT) providers have Masters degrees and work under the direct supervision of licensed psychologists. They provide in-home and in-school psychological counseling to the child, and meet with parents, teachers and other involved adults to help the child to develop a healthier self-image, learn more mature social skills, and improve interpersonal relationship skills.

Program Specialists have Masters degrees and experience with diagnostic educational, intellectual, and behavioral assessment instruments. They work under the supervision of a Certified School Psychologist and perform diagnostic evaluations of children in schools.

Licensed Psychologists are licensed by the State for the independent practice of psychology.  At IBC, they are specialists in developmental and child psychology, and provide consultations and support to the BC, MT and BHT providers as necessary. They do not prescribe medicine (Psychiatrists do that).

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Are these services effective?

IBC has been collecting treatment outcome data since 1997.  Based on over 1,000 treatment records selected at random between 2002 and 2007, success rates between 74% and 82% have been documented, addressing physical aggression, communication deficits, personal safety issues, compliance with adult prompts and socialization deficits, based on parental report of progress. Our staff began delivering these services in 1981 — more than 10 years before any other provider in Pennsylvania, and we’ve consistently earned the highest praise from parents, advocates, and even Managed Care Organization officials for the quality and integrity of our work. Call us anytime at 610-524-8701 x160.

The Institute for Behavior Change (IBC) is pleased to announce the submission of a Program Assessment to the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) documenting the effectiveness of our model of IBHS called Effective Treatment in a Wraparound Cup®   The Program Assessment is available here.

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If my child must have Medical Assistance (MA) to get these services, is my child eligible for Medical Assistance?

Yes, if he/she lives in Pennsylvania, is under 21 years of age, and has a disability, your child is almost certainly eligible for Medical Assistance benefits. It costs you nothing to ask. Please call: 610-524-8701 x160 for more information. View our Organizational Chart for more information about intakes.

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How long does it take to get an evaluation from you to determine my child’s eligibility for MA benefits?

Provided that your child is a Pennsylvania resident under 21 years of age with a disability and without Medical Assistance benefits, the evaluation can be completed in a few hours, and the written report of the evaluation can be delivered to you in less than 30 days. Our single evaluation can also be used to establish a child’s need for IBHS, Early Intervention services, and Special Education services. We are the only organization that offers this rapid, thorough and completely free evaluation service to determine a child’s eligibility for Medical Assistance benefits.

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What does your evaluation involve?

About one hour of your responding to questions about your child, completing a brief behavior rating scale about your child’s typical behavior, and having the child meet briefly face-to-face with a licensed psychologist from the Network for Behavior Change (a private psychology practice group specializing in children’s mental health diagnosis and treatment). The psychologist’s finished report can usually be delivered to you in less than 30 days. It will be about 8 pages long and will cover everything that any insurance company, funding agency or treatment service provider in Pennsylvania needs.

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Besides establishing a child’s eligibility for MA benefits due to a mental disability, does your evaluation have any other uses?

Yes. Our evaluation report can serve four additional purposes simultaneously:

  1. Establish eligibility for Early Intervention services if your child is under the age of 5 and has a significant developmental delay.
  2. Determine your child’s entitlement to special education services in school.
  3. Establish your child’s entitlement to professional behavioral support services in your child’s home or school if your child has a need for these services, including EPSDT funded services like “Intensive Behavioral Health Services” (IBHS).
  4. Create an integrated, individualized behavioral Treatment Plan for your child that will be acceptable to any Managed Care Organization in Pennsylvania for delivering IBHS if they’re needed.

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Why isn’t there any cost for these evaluations to determine a child’s need for Medical Assistance benefits?

The cost is paid 100% by the Medical Assistance (Medicaid) program in the State of Pennsylvania, regardless of family income, if your child is found to be eligible for Medical Assistance benefits. If we don’t believe that your child will qualify for Medical Assistance benefits, we will tell you so before the evaluation, so there will be no cost to you in any case, and no unnecessary travel to our office. If you want a different type of evaluation (academic achievement, intelligence, personality), we can also help you, but there will be a cost to you (that cost may or may not be reimbursable in whole or in part by your private insurance company).

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I can’t believe you can do these evaluations so quickly.  And at no cost.  How is that possible?

Different evaluations have different purposes. We do not offer medical evaluations. We are behavioral scientists, not physicians, and our evaluations are targeted to providing a comprehensive review of your child’s strengths, weaknesses and needs from a biological-psychological-social perspective that will establish your child’s eligibility for Medical Assistance benefits if he or she has a disability that is recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.  Obviously, we don’t make a profit on our evaluations to determine a child’s eligibility for Medical Assistance benefits; we do them because they need to be done quickly so that necessary treatment services can get started. You should obtain other evaluations to serve other needs, and we will help you determine what those other needs might be when we meet with you.

Like all organizations that provide evaluation services (hospitals, etc), more than one professional is involved in the evaluation process, including people with Masters degrees in psychology who work closely with licensed psychologists to conduct interviews, collect behavioral information and create draft evaluation reports that licensed psychologists rely upon in meeting with you and your child in order to rapidly form responsible professional conclusions about your child’s strengths, weaknesses and needs. This licensed psychologist completes the evaluation, generates the final diagnoses and recommendations, and is fully responsible for the content of the evaluation report, but a large part of the evaluation is performed by unlicensed supervisees. By dividing up the responsibility for the evaluation in this way, it is possible to perform an excellent, comprehensive evaluation quickly and cost-efficiently that achieves its intended primary purpose: determining whether or not your child is eligible for Medical Assistance benefits due to a mental disability.

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What if I already have Medical Assistance benefits for my child and I live in Chester or Philadelphia Counties, PA?

After attempting to deliver the same excellent services in Chester and Philadelphia Counties that my staff and I have been delivering in Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery Counties since 1981, in 2017 we decided to stop trying to work with with the Managed Care company that Chester County has used since 2004, and in August of 2020 we stopped working with CBH in Philadelphia after more than 30 years when they implemented a unique version of IBHS that excluded providers with fewer than 1,000 clients and required all IBHS providers to deliver “group” services, for reasons that remain obscure. According to all of Pennsylvania’s contracts with evaluation providers, your child’s intake evaluation to determine his/her need for IBHS has to be conducted in 7 days or less.  Please let us know if a different time table is offered to you.

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