Guest Blog: New Jersey Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative Care Initiative Update - Professional Risk Management Services

Guest Blog: New Jersey Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative Care Initiative Update

As part of PRMS’ ongoing efforts to support the behavioral healthcare community and promote the organizations that work towards this mission, we are pleased to highlight our Platinum Partner, the New Jersey Psychiatric Association, and its partnership with the Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center – through this partnership, NJPA is an approved subcontractor of the New Jersey Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative (NJPPC), and together, will continue the mission of the NJPPC, working to expand children’s access to mental health care throughout the state. PRMS invited Dr. Meera Wells, FAPA, Statewide Medical Director, NJPPC; Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine; and Faculty, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Program, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, to be one of our guest bloggers this month and share an update on NJPPC and its recent accomplishments.

What is the NJPPC? 

The New Jersey Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative (NJPPC) is a statewide Department of Children and Families grant-funded program, free for pediatric primary care providers and sub-specialists in all 21 counties. The mission of the NJPPC is to transform access to mental health care by empowering pediatricians. We achieve this mission through collaboration with pediatricians and sub-specialists to support the early identification of mental health issues and by providing access to Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists (CAPs), mental health resources, and care coordination for patients and their families.

How does it work?

Established in 2015, the NJPPC operates out of nine Regional Hubs covering all counties in New Jersey. Our Regional Hubs serve as outpatient consultants to pediatric providers who are NJPPC members. Each Regional Hub has Child and Adolescent psychiatrists (CAPs), licensed clinical social workers (Navigators), licensed therapists, and mental health specialists who work as a team to help our pediatricians. Our members can refer patients to us for care coordination in the community, diagnostic clarification, or guidance on medication management. Our Navigators reach out to every referred family and do a biopsychosocial assessment to understand the needs of the child. Targeted referrals are then made within the community by Navigators. When appropriate, our CAPs can see children in person or virtually for psychiatric evaluation free of cost to the child and family. Once the evaluation is complete, collaboration with CAPs continues for as long as the pediatrician wants, as they continue to increase their comfort and competence in managing the mental health of children in their practice. 

How does it help the citizens of New Jersey?

Access to children's mental health is a major issue. Our licensed clinical Navigators create tailor-made referrals to resources in the patient's community. This means our Navigators spend considerable effort in matching the needs of the child/family to available services, taking into account insurance, geographical location, etc. Current wait times to see a child psychiatrist can range from 4-8 months or longer for children on Medicaid. The NJPPC CAPs can see the child within one week of the paperwork being completed. All of this is available free of cost to the youngest residents of New Jersey. 

What does the program accomplish in its current state?

  • The NJPPC has over 750 members.
  • More than 210,000 patients have been screened for mental health issues.
  • Our program has provided services to over 20,000 children with mental health concerns.
  • Educational webinars are offered to pediatric providers to increase knowledge on various mental health topics with CME credit and MOC Part 2 points.
  • Referrals for high-risk behaviors have steadily increased since 2015, highlighting that our members are screening more efficiently, and appropriate interventions are accomplished in collaboration with the NJPPC.

What are the future goals of the program?

Our goal is to see the NJPPC grow throughout the state with a continued increase in membership. We want to be at the forefront of universal screening for mental health issues in children, leading to early identification and intervention. This also includes improving the early identification and care management of children with neurodevelopmental issues. 

Provider recognition and management of mental health issues in an academic setting is also a new goal for us at the NJPPC. We want to empower NJPPC members to support the needs of their patients so they can excel academically.

We also acknowledge that training the next generation of physicians is crucial. We strive to equip pediatric and psychiatric residents with the Collaborative Care Model so they can be the leaders of tomorrow in collaborative care.


To learn more about the superior psychiatry-specific insurance program and comprehensive services offered by PRMS, click here.


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