Statewide Services

Womens and Children's Services

Women’s Services Practice Improvement Collaborative

In October 2004, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS) launched a three-year initiative – The Women’s Services Practice Improvement Collaborative - designed to enhance its behavioral health service system for women.  The goal was to improve the quality of services for women receiving substance use treatment in Connecticut, and thus the treatment outcomes, by participation in a recovery-oriented treatment system of care, incorporating current best practices in gender-responsive and trauma-informed programming.  A best practice system of care for women, supported by system-level policies and standards and program-level practices was developed.  Through this initiative, there was increased interaction and knowledge exchange between community-based service providers, persons in recovery, the research community and policy-makers.  


DMHAS and a group of stakeholders that include persons in recovery and professional staff from the specialty programs for women and children, as well as national experts in the field, met early on to discuss how we currently define standards of care, and how to develop strategies to improve this care. It was also important to consider ways to measure success after implementing the changes.  A series of retreats were held to develop standards and best practices that are gender-responsive and trauma-informed.  As a result, three products were developed:

An Outcomes Study to measure the effectiveness of these changes was implemented in March 2006.  Outcome measures include:

  • reunification with her children;
  • safety in the living situation;
  • presence of trauma symptoms;
  • satisfaction with recovery. 

To learn more about this initiative, contact Shelly Nolan, MS, LPC, Director of Women’s Services at(860) 262-6605 or