START Newsletter | Spring 2017
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Vision & Voice: A Quarterly News & Event Publication of the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire
START Newsletter | Spring 2017
Dr. Joan Beasley
What a great time to be writing this introduction, just back from our annual SNTI!  Thanks to all who once again contributed to a terrific event. The posters were highly informative, the strength spotting a great exercise, the music was incredible and the quality of each and every presentation spectacular. Most of all our community gathered together and created an atmosphere that surpassed all expectations. So, thanks to all of you.  I also want to thank those who were unable to attend who do the work for START across the country. I hope to see you next year in Boston!  Our Newsletter has a lot to report and I hope you all enjoy. Happy Spring!
Research and Publications
The Center for START Services recently concluded a study, funded through NICHD, which examined outcomes from START programs in the Northeast and Southwest US. The analysis  was submitted to the American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and preliminary outcomes were discussed during the START Research Panel at the 2017 SNTI. Many thanks to all who contributed. Other current research projects include a longitudinal study of outcomes associated with START Clinical Team Services in the state of Iowa as well as analyses of the assessment and planning tools that are utilized by START (RSQ, START Plan). 
START Information Reporting System
SIRS remains at the center of all START research initiatives. Learn more about SIRS on our website.
START Research Committee
The Center for START Services recently established the START Research Committee (RC) to advance research efforts that seek to improve the lives of individuals with IDD and behavioral health challenges. The RC is particularly interested in supporting projects that seek to understand the role of START in promoting optimal outcomes for those with IDD.  We encourage all START network members to utilize the RC as a resource. To learn more, download a Research Committee Flyer or contact
Annual Reports
New annual reports are now available on our website and can also be accessed by clicking the links below:
Calliope Holingue
Welcome to Calliope Holingue
START is excited to introduce our new research analyst, Calliope Holingue. Calliope is a PhD student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health interested in researching the connection between the immune system, gastrointestinal health and the incidence of psychiatric disorders. We asked Calliope to tell us a bit about herself and her work:
“For me, public health research is extremely fulfilling, because I enjoy the day-to-day activities of research (coming up with research questions, analyzing data, reading papers, meeting with people, etc.) but at the core I also care very deeply about the things I research. I love stepping back from a problem, trying to look at what systems are in place that cause it, and trying to think of upstream solutions. Obviously, the world is complicated and solving issues takes a lot of time, but I hope I can make a difference in the things I work on.”
National Advisory Council
START National Advisory Council Update
The April 24th session hosted Luke Kalb, START National Team member and research consultant from Johns Hopkins University, who reviewed findings from the recent NIH study evaluating the improvement in mental health outcomes and caregiver service experiences associated with START Clinical Team services. Implications of this study indicate improvements at the service user, caregiver, and systemic levels. Updates were also provided by the START Sustainability Committee. An announcement was also made that the Evidence-Based Practice Committee has merged with the START Research Committee. Next Meeting: Monday, July 10, 2017 from 2:30-4:00 pm ET.

About the START National Advisory Council: The Center for START Services Advisory Council is comprised of national leaders and other stakeholders in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health. The membership includes people from an array of backgrounds and expertise and includes service recipients and family members. The role of this group is to provide informed guidance to the national Center for START Services regarding service/model sustainability, expansion of the professional learning community and research opportunities.
Training Updates
START National Training Institute
The Center for START Services staff would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of the START network members, "START Talks" speakers, presenters, musicians, new friends and volunteers who participated in the second annual START National Training Institute (SNTI) on April 30-May 2 at Doral Arrowwood Conference Center in Rye Brook, New York. Thank you so much for being a part of a very special event! We hope to see you at our 2018 SNTI May 7-9 at the Sheraton Hotel in beautiful downtown Boston, MA. Join us in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the START model.

Thank you to our 2017 Sponsors for their support
National Online Training Series Update
The National Online Training Series is an invite-only series offered by the Center for START Services for START Programs and their community partners and some START Network Partners (as determined by the project scope). Each annual series runs roughly from September to April and features one training per month on a variety of topics relevant to improving service outcomes for individuals with IDD and behavioral health needs in the community.

Feedback from the 2016-2017 series is in…

 “Information was incredibly useful. Presentation was clear and easy to follow. Marc's delivery kept me captivated throughout. Great topic, given by a knowledgeable professional.”
- Supporting Individuals at Risk of Aberrant Sexual Expression by Marc Goldman, MS, LPA (November)

 “This is an incredibly important topic for the IDD population. As stated, people are living longer, (including) those with Down Syndrome. Ongoing education is a must.”
- Special Presentation- Aging & IDD by Robert Party, MD (December)

 “A great deal of valuable information and resources….Grateful for the presenters’ experiences and provision of excellent resources.”
- Supporting Parents with IDD: Experiences, Lessons Learned, and Promising Practices by Diane Jacobstein, PhD, and Wendy Jones, MEd, MSW (January)

 “Training was one of the best Friday series I've listened to! Clear, concise, educational, great stories tied in, awesome tips and examples that we can use ourselves.”
- Establishing Healthy, Positive Relationships by Kathy Honeyman, LCSW, MSW (February)

 “An excellent presentation.  Dr. McLaren uses clear data and spells out the DSM V criteria.”
- Psychopharmacology of Autism Spectrum Disorder by Jennifer McLaren, MD (March)
Trauma-Informed Care Practice Group
Following the success of START’s first topic-focused practice group on Networking & Linkages in 2016, START recently offered a 4-session practice group series on Trauma-Informed Care. The group was co-facilitated by Dr. Karyn Harvey and Dr. Jill Hinton and was attended by START Coordinators and Resource Center Counselors from national START programs.

Session topics have explored ways professionals understand & identify trauma. Case examples and interactive discussions were utilized to highlight core concepts. Key points from the session included:
  • Safety is the key factor in establishing an environment where individuals can heal.
  • Safety has to be centered on an emotional sense of safety
  • Relationships are healing, friendship in particular
  • Opportunities for unpaid relationships must be provided
  • Real choices are essential to healing
Participant feedback indicated a 100% overall satisfaction rating with their practice group experience. One respondent said:

“The practice group experience was rewarding, enlightening and very well done. The facilitator was exceptional. Dr. Harvey taught and invited participants to contribute anecdotes and experiences, which supported the material. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning opportunity and would participate in another practice group wholeheartedly.”

Coming in Fall 2017…. Applied Behavior Analysis/ Positive Behavior Strategies Support Plans (ABA/PBSP) Practice Group co-facilitated by Dr. Dan Baker and Dr. Karen Weigle, Associate Director, Center for START Services.
START Coordinator Training Group Update
The Center for START Services now offers a 16-week online interactive course for newly hired START Coordinators. The Coordinator Training Group aims to provide a forum in which the coordinator can discuss and process the information learned as they move through the online START Coordinator Certification Curriculum. Participants are partnered to promote collaborative learning and fellowship across START programs and asked to complete a survey regarding their learning experience at the middle and end of the course

 “I loved the interactive experience and would definitely recommend that be continued for future cohorts. The format lets everyone be a part of the discussion and contribute to the learning”

While participants were highly satisfied with the content and structure of the Training Group, we learned through participant feedback that continued improvements could be made, particularly with regard to the order of content.

“My only suggestion is to reorder which topics are covered first. Since coordinators going through this training will likely be working with a full caseload it would have been more helpful to go through the trainings that were specific to the services I would be providing… Overall, this was an excellent format to learn in and it was helpful to receive feedback/perspectives from coordinators outside of my state.”

As a direct result of feedback, the Center for START Services has made positive changes have been made to enhance the learning experience of all participants. Thank you to all coordinators that have participated thus far. The next Coordinator Training Group will begin in June. Please contact Beth Grosso at for more information.
Program Updates
Program Certification
The program certification process is thorough and rigorous to ensure that programs are meeting fidelity in all elements of the START model. For more information on START team accreditation options please visit our website.
Congratulations to El Paso START for achieving Adult Clinical Team Certification (1 year) in February.

From left to right (back row): Karen Weigle, Claudia Escajeda, Erica Thomas, Angie Garcia, David Puentes, Yvette Marquez, David O’Neal; From left to right (front row): Laurette Baylon, Kristal Garcia, Elyana Martinez
Congratulations to NC START West for achieving Lifespan Full Program Certification-Clinical Team and Therapeutic Supports (2 year) in March.
Clinical Team pictured left, Resource Center Team pictured right.
VA REACH Region 2
Congratulations to VA REACH Region 2  for achieving Adult Full Program Certification-Clinical Team and Resource Center (2 year) in March.

From left to right: Andrea Caoili, Kelley Baker, Damon Griffin, Dr. Joan Beasley, Liv Salvador, Dr. Mojgan Pourmand, Dr. Michael Sherer, Laura Phillips, Janet Murphy
Coordinator Certifications
Congratulations to all newly certified START Coordinators!  
Courtney Walker, TX Tarrant County
Ashley Painter, VA REACH 1
Angelica Garcia, TX El Paso
Rebecca Szymanski, NY Region 1
Magen  McMahon, NY Region 3
Anna Conboy, VA REACH 2
Ramona Policastro, NY Region 3
Michele Valder, NY Region 1
Lisa Petersen, NC Central
Hannah Bednar, TX Tarrant County
Sarah Emigh, VA REACH 1
America Allen, NC Central
Adrianne Wheeler, NC East
Samantha Norman, NY Region 4
Stefon Smith, NY Region 4
Jessica Miller, NY Region 4
Ashley Gruver, Iowa
Faith Gil, VA REACH 1
Ebony Medas, NY Region 4
Felicia Bates, Iowa
Deanna Baker, NY Region 4
Corey Fisk, NY Region 4
Professional Learning Communities 
The PLC is a means to help unify and enhance the service systems providing supports to those with IDD and behavioral health needs. It is an evidence-based, cost-effective solution for the need for more training across disciplines to share and develop knowledge, while developing and growing communities. All PLCs, regardless of their context or focus, share several attributes:
  • a group of people who share and critically interrogate their practice in an ongoing, reflective, collaborative, inclusive, learning-oriented, growth-promoting way;

  • a collective enterprise that seeks to share and act on learning to enhance effectiveness as professionals, advocates, and;

  • a community of supportive, continuous inquiry and improvement that draws innovation from a diverse range of people.

NC VayaHealth PLC
Recent and Current PLCs
  • NC Central PLC
  • NC East PLCs
  • Colorado PLCs
  • NC Vaya Health Care Coordination PLC (pictured right)
  • New Hampshire PLC
  • Hawaii
Welcome to...
  • NC East’s new Medical Director, John Diamond, MD
  • NY Region 4 Triborough’s new Clinical Director, Cheryl Karran, LMSW
  • NY Region 4 Triborough’s new Medical Director, Kathy Stratigos, MD
  • NY Region 4 Richhmond Kings’ new Medical Director, Timothy Longshore, MD
  • NY Region 1’s new Clinical Director, Jo-El Thompson-Kroon, PhD
  • Tarrant County’s new Clinical Director, Rozemarijn Staal, PsyD
  • Tarrant County’s new Program Director, Linda Kurland, CCC-SLP
  • STRIVE in Colorado who have begun their training for START Coordination and RC services
START Spotlight
Spotlight on David Lewis, NC START East
“Hey David, I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for you. I know you're very new to the START world and things may not make much sense to you sometimes, but you always embrace each challenge and each day with a positive attitude and willingness to learn. And that is what makes a great START coordinator. I know I challenge you a lot but I always enjoy our mini coaching session and I can tell you grow and learn each day. Thank you for your hard work, For keeping up with your paperwork, for being a fantastic team player, for not being afraid to speak up, for sharing your experience in the mental health world, and for always putting a smile on our faces. You rock. And I am grateful for you.” – Priscila Hillagus
David has a Masters in French Horn from Carnegie Mellon University as well as a Masters in Human Services. He invited our team to his concert recently and then streamed it live for those who couldn’t travel to be there. He’s the guy that starts a fund to help out someone with a recent car accident, and the guy who is able to meet the individuals we support where they are- regardless of where that is. His character strength is gratitude and our team has a great deal of gratitude for him.
Kudos to...

Iowa START. The SIRS Manager would like to extend a special kudos to the Iowa START program for their exemplary work and effort in ensuring that all data is entered completely and in a timely manner.

El Paso TX START: For creating linkage with the Sherriff’s Department to provide ongoing trainings around working with people with IDD. Their first training was in February and it was enthusiastically received. Welcome to El Paso’s new Medical Director,
Tarrant County TX START:
  • For their innovative expansion of their services to their network.
  • Linda Kurland, Program Director, for being a great leader who knows how to motivate and energize her employees.
  • Jacob Wasonga, Team Leader, for his leadership and expertise in systems work. 
  • For expanding training offerings across the state
  • For expanding to serving children
  • NC START West for their new Resource Center
NY Region 4: For their first START Coordinator Certifications: Deanna Baker, Corey Fisk, Ebony Medas, Jessica Miller, Samantha Norman, and Stefon Smith
NY Region 5: Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc (FREE) has been awarded the contract to provide NY START services in Region 5.
Thanks for reading,

The Center for START Services
Copyright © 2017 National Center for START Services, All rights reserved.

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Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire