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Wisconsin START Initiative

In 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) contracted with the National Center for START Services to evaluate the state’s service system for people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health needs. Called the START Scan (PDF), this evaluation helped us learn how effective services and supports are for people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health needs in Wisconsin. Around 1,380 partners participated in this process.

The START Scan will drive our next steps to make improvements. We are engaging partners across Wisconsin to do this important work.

   Stay connected

Sign up to get email notices.

If you have questions about this project, email us at DHSDMSStart@dhs.wisconsin.gov.

  Key actions

  • Read the START Scan (PDF).
  • Look for a webinar invite this spring, where you can hear about our final report describing our way forward for Wisconsin.

START Scan findings for Wisconsin

The START Scan recommended ways to improve systems and services for people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health needs. There are five themes:

  1. Improve crisis services
  2. Expand training and education for providers
  3. Increase availability of outpatient and preventative mental health services
  4. Improve coordination between service systems
  5. Improve supports for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health needs so they have a better quality of life

These themes are critical for those in Wisconsin who have both mental health needs and intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Next steps for Wisconsin

Starting in 2023 and going into 2024, DHS is working with partners from around the state to plan for how to address the START Scan findings and recommendations. This includes:

  • Deciding on priorities
  • Creating recommendations for how the intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health service delivery system will address the five themes
  • Making an action plan schedule

DHS will release a final report in early 2024 describing our way forward for Wisconsin.

The five subcommittees include crisis response, training and education, outpatient, system coordination, and improve IDD supports. They work together with the workgroup and report up to the steering committee.

Get involved

DHS is engaging self-advocates, partners, providers, and others to be part of a planning team. There are three parts to the team:

  • Steering committee—Guides and champions the START Initiative work
  • Subcommittees—Creates prioritized action plans for each of the five START Scan themes
  • Work group—Gives input on the START Scan themes and ensures all voices are heard

Learn more about these three groups below.

START Steering committee

The START Steering Committee held its kickoff meeting on July 12, 2023. It’s a cross-functional team with members from DHS and partners involved in the service delivery system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health needs. Members represent the following groups from across the state:

  • DHS
  • Mental health providers
  • Managed care organizations
  • Residential providers
  • Urban counties
  • Rural counties
  • Self-advocates
  • Advocacy agencies
  • Parents and guardians

START Subcommittees

The five START subcommittees represent one of the five START Scan themes (described above). Each subcommittee will have 10-15 members representing a variety of partner types.

Each subcommittee will:

  • Review the applicable START Scan theme
  • Review any related initiatives that are already in process
  • Identify extra data or information that may be available to support their work
  • Assess what has or hasn’t worked in Wisconsin in the past
  • Decide if they need to work with other subcommittees
  • Update the work group on their progress, challenges, areas needing closer work with other subcommittees, etc. 
  • Create a prioritized action plan to submit for the final report

START work group

The work group is a large, diverse group of partners. It includes intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health system partners. It also includes staff from DHS.

Work group members will:

  • Stay up to date on the project
  • Give feedback on the START Scan themes as needed
  • Ensure all voices are heard during the project

Upcoming work group engagement opportunities

Each subcommittee is now finalizing prioritized recommendations based on the work group's feedback. They will be combined into a report that we will release publicly in early 2024.

We will host an online webinar in spring 2024 to share the report with you. We look forward to creating a community of ownership around these important plans for improving Wisconsin's systems and services for people with IDD/MH needs.

Past work group engagement opportunities

  • Feedback surveys from subcommittees
    • Subcommittee 1 collected work group feedback on their theme from December 19–January 2.
    • Subcommittees 2 and 3 collected work group feedback on their themes from November 27–December 8.
    • Subcommittees 4 and 5 collected work group feedback on their themes from November 20–December 1.
  • DHS held the work group kickoff meeting on September 14, 2023. Watch a recording or view the presentation slides in English (PDF), Hmong (PDF), or Spanish (PDF). DHS will post information about the next work group meetings on this webpage, and send an email to the START Initiative email list.
Last revised January 11, 2024