Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE — The Children’s Mental Health Services Research Center in the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has received a $1,483,573 grant from the W.T. Grant Foundation to fund research on mental health programs which serve at-risk youth. The UT center will collaborate with the Helen Ross McNabb Center in Knoxville to conduct the three-year study.

Research will focus on testing the effects of a planned series of organizational activities that are designed to enhance the culture and climate of mental health programs for young people at risk.

The organizational initiative, labeled ARC for the desired characteristics of Availability, Responsiveness and Continuity in services, is designed to improve the cultures and climates of mental health programs in ways that contribute to service quality and outcomes. ARC was developed by the UT Children’s Center under the direction of Charles Glisson, founder and director.

“We’ve discovered that an organization’s climate and culture are critical in determining how organizational members work, how they cooperate and how they serve their clients,” Glisson said.

The proposed study will examine the effects of the ARC initiative in 28 youth programs sponsored by the Helen Ross McNabb Center. Fourteen of 28 programs will be randomly chosen to participate in planned ARC activities over a period of two years.

Examples of activities include team development and leadership training, enhancement of client outcome monitoring and employment and development of continuous improvement processes aimed at eliminating barriers to effective service provision.

Across all 28 programs, a variety of measures will be gathered to determine the effectiveness of the ARC initiative. These include a variety of client outcome measures, the job satisfaction and turnover of Helen Ross McNabb Center employees and changes in the work environment.

“The Helen Ross McNabb Center is delighted to partner with the UT Children’s Mental Health Services Research Center on this important study,” said Andy Black, president and CEO of Helen Ross McNabb.

“The research that Dr. Glisson and his team conduct leads directly to best practice models that are readily adoptable. Implementing best practices for provider organizations changes the lives of children who have been in trouble with the courts or who are in foster care,” he said.


Dr. Charles Glisson, (865) 974-1707

Lisa McNeal, Helen Ross McNabb Center, (865) 637-9711