Youth under the age of 12 in Utah are hospitalized more often than you might think. From 2013-2014 there were 1,080 Medicaid youth hospitalized for inpatient psychiatric stays in Salt Lake County. If private insurance coverage and unfunded were included, that number would be far greater. (Source: OPTUM Salt Lake County)
The reasons vary, but at times young children are hospitalized without illness, injury or infection. Hospitalization may occur for unmanageable aggressive behavior at home or suicidal thoughts without an active plan. These children may visit the emergency room numerous times, but without a physical medical reason they are released to go home. Poor communication and crisis situations among family members may further the problem, leaving those children likely to return to the hospital, only to repeat the cycle.
The Family Assessment and Stabilization Team (FAST) is a program developed to act as a substitute service for youth who are at risk of being hospitalized for mental health reasons. The program offers a short term out-of-home placement with counseling and community support for the youth and their family. The main goal of FAST is to reduce or divert future hospital visits while improving the family’s ability to keep the child at home.
The FAST program, initially developed in Washington State, has been offered at Salt Lake County Youth Services for over two years for youth ages 12-17. In July of 2014, Youth Services expanded the program to include youth ages 6-11. The youth is assigned a therapist who will provide individual and family counseling to support the goal of returning home. Each week a home-visit is scheduled to allow the child and family time to practice new skills and perspectives learned in counseling. During the program, the FAST team will assist the family in finding additional services through community partners and by making a referral to a Family Resource Facilitator to continue needed support after the program ends, such as on-going counseling, day-treatment programs, or other community resources.
Salt Lake County Youth Services is pleased to offer FAST and other services to families in Salt Lake County. If you’d like more information please contact Youth Services at 385-468-4500 or visit our website at www.youth.slco.org.