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​​Bring the Kids Home: 2004-2014

Bring the Kids Home: a brief history

“Bring the Kids Home” (BTKH) was a ten-year initiative conducted through partnership between the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the Department of Health and Social Services, the State planning boards, Families, Youth, Providers, Tribes, and other Stakeholders.

From 1998 to 2004, Alaska’s behavioral health system became increasingly reliant on Residential Psychiatric Treatment Centers (RPTC) for treatment of severely emotionally disturbed youth. Out-of-state placements grew by nearly 800 percent. Alaska Native children were over-represented: 49 percent of children in state custody and 22 percent of non-custody children in out-of-state placements were Alaska Native.

In response to this trend, the Department of Health and Social Services and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (The Trust) established and jointly chaired the Bring the Kids Home Focus Group to address the reliance on out-of-state services.  The initiative took place from 2004-2014.

BTKH’s Three Primary Goals

  1. Significantly reduce the numbers of children and youth in out-of-state care and ensure that the future use of out-of-state facilities is kept to a minimum.
  2. Build the capacity within Alaska to serve children with all intensities of need.
  3. Develop an integrated, seamless system that will serve children in the most culturally competent, least restrictive setting, and as close to home as possible.

BTKH Guiding Principles

  • Kids belong in their homes (least restrictive, most appropriate setting, community based).
  • Strengthen families first (strength based, preventative)
  • Families and youth are equal partners (family driven, youth driven).
  • Respect individual, family and community values (culturally competent, individualized care, community-specific solutions).
  • Normalize the situation (meet the child where they are, respect normal life cycles, promote normal and healthy development).
  • Help is accessible (coordinated and collaborative).
  • Consumers are satisfied and collaborative meaningful outcomes are achieved (emphasis on research, evidence, quality improvement, accountability).


To achieve its goal of reducing out-of-state placements, the BTKH initiative utilized grant funding, dedicated staff in multiple divisions, intensive and ongoing collaboration with the beneficiary and provider communities, enhanced communication and collaborations between BTKH staff and community-based providers, and targeted regional and statewide interventions. Widely considered a success, the state experienced significant reductions in the number of out-of-state placements from 749 in 2004 to 90 (2011). Out-of-state placements continued to remain below 100 through the termination of the BTKH initiative in 2014 and numbered 70 as of May 2023.

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