1. MCH Workforce Development
  2. Funded Projects

Funded Projects

Children of Arkansas Mental Health in Primary Care (CHAMP)

Grant Status: Active

Training Category: Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program (PMHCA)

Project Director(s):

Christopher Smith
University of Arkansas System
Little Rock, AR
Phone: (501) 364-2960


Arkansas is a predominantly rural state where 27% of the children suffer from a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral condition. A shortage of pediatric mental health professionals prevents access in rural areas. Pediatric and Family Physician Primary Care Providers (PCPs), who care for children across the state are best situated to identify and connect families to mental health services. To support PCPs with a new statewide program for training, education, screening, telehealth consultation, and referrals to mental health, we propose the Children of Arkansas Mental Health in Primary Care (CHAMP) program.

Goals and Objectives:

To support PCPs to screen, diagnose, treat, and refer children of Arkansas with a behavioral health condition, CHAMP is expected to: 1. Increase the number of PCPs trained to identify and treat mental health conditions. 2. Increase the confidence of PCPs in starting mental health-related medications. 3. Increase the screening and referral of patients to a mental health provider. 4. Improve access for behavioral health in rural areas. 5. Increase the use of telehealth for mental health treatment and consultation in primary care.


CHAMP is a program of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) administered by Arkansas Children's Hospital ACH). Co-Directors from the Primary Care and Behavioral Health Service Lines and the CHAMP Program Manager coordinate the activities of CHAMP, which also includes the Pediatric Mental Health Care Team (CHAMP Team), comprised of a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, a Pediatric Psychologist, and a Mental Health Care Manager. CHAMP enrolls PCPs and will help implement validated screening of behavioral health problems and facilitate the consultation and referral process. Guided by a needs survey and focus groups identifying barriers to mental health identification and consultation, an implementation guide for PCPs will be produced by the end of year 2 to guide future years of implementation. The CHAMP Team will also develop a curriculum for common mental and behavioral health conditions delivered through a regularly scheduled conference (CHAMP Sessions) utilizing a mixture of didactic and case-based discussions using the Project ECHO platform. CHAMP Consults, offered through telehealth, will connect PCPs with the CHAMP Team to assist in managing patients' mental health, including referrals. The CHAMP Care Manager will access and update existing statewide databases to aid in patient referrals. The CHAMP program will be expanded over the four years to assure a statewide reach and maximum impact.


The CHAMP program is supported by the Arkansas Department of Health (the state Title V MCH Services Block Grant program) and the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The application is submitted by the UAMS Department of Pediatrics with an agreement for Arkansas Children's, a private, non-profit organization, to administer the program. An advisory board of key stakeholders, including a family representative, will play a vital role in the design and yearly evaluation of the CHAMP program.


Program evaluation will be conducted by the UAMS College of Public Health and the AC Research Institute. Evaluation will include practice facilitation data, periodic surveys assessing effectiveness and provider confidence, claims data analysis, and care management records. Outcome measures will include the number of providers enrolled and participating in CHAMP Sessions and CHAMP Consults, confidence level improvement, number of behavioral health referrals overall, and use of telehealth consults.