The Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) was established in 1976 with the express purpose of assisting states and the federal government to enhance services and supports for persons with a mental illness and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and to support the development of alternatives to congregate care facilities. The Institute, a non-profit organization, was active in the 1970s in the assessment of the impact of federal programs, such as Supplemental Security Income, housing subsidies, and vocational rehabilitation, and their application on the expansion of community services for people with disabilities. HSRI staff also participated in the implementation of the Community Support Program at the National Institute of Mental Health, and in the design of a housing research agenda for people with disabilities. At the close of the decade, Institute staff completed a book on the community movement in developmental disabilities titled: Deinstitutionalization of Developmentally Disabled Persons: A Conceptual Analysis & Guide (Bradley, 1978).
During the 1980s, HSRI expanded its interests to include quality assurance, needs assessment, multi-site evaluations, and family support. In the area of quality assurance, HSRI developed a wide-ranging report on quality assurance for the Department of Health and Human Services, Assessing and Enhancing the Quality of Services: A Guide for the Human Services Field. In the area of needs assessment, HSRI designed the 'Quadrant Method' for The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) to assist in the determination of the potential numbers of people with severe and persistent mental illness requiring services. HSRI also developed an analysis of state fund allocation formulas and models for NIMH, and developed computer simulation models for allocating mental health resources and planning mental health services.
HSRI staff conducted a multi-state study of the experiences of people receiving community support services as part of the Community Support Program Follow-Up Study. The Institute, in collaboration with Developmental Disabilities Councils around the country, took part in a major set of initiatives during the decade of the 1980s having to do with the development of programs and policies promoting family support.
The 1980s were a period of intense examination of deinstitutionalization activities around the country. The Institute participated in formative and summative evaluations of this movement in states such as Pennsylvania (the Pennhurst Longitudinal Study), New Hampshire, Michigan, Maine, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.
During the decade of the 1990s, HSRI staff worked with a number of states to evaluate and describe the best practices in family support. The Institute became a Technical Assistance Center for the evaluation of system change in mental health and a coordinating center for the SAMHSA Managed Care for Vulnerable Populations Project. HSRI continued to offer support for state and local mental health systems and developed considerable expertise in coordinating evaluation implemented in multiple sites. In recognition of the movement to managed care, Institute staff also turned their attention to the development of participant-driven managed care approaches to the provision of long term supports for people with disabilities, as well as to the use of performance indicators to monitor and improve system performance. Similarly, in the field of child welfare, HSRI staff assisted states interested in assessing managed care applications and performance measures.
In the late 1990s, the Institute also became active in the self-determination movement through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to evaluate pilot sites charged with implementing participant driven supports. To support self-advocates to become more empowered, the Institute designed a curriculum to enhance self-determination skills.
HSRI Today... and in the future
The Institute's mission continues to focus on improving the lives of people with disabilities. Through National Core Indicators, staff are working with states and localities around the country to measure and benchmark the quality of services and outcomes for people. As a data management and analysis resource, HSRI is working with the Centers for Substance Abuse Prevention to generate reports regarding prevention efforts nationally. As a pioneer in the linkage of resources and needs, HSRI has developed important techniques for states interested in rationalizing their allocation of resources and moving to individualized budgets. Our interest and influence in quality improvement is manifest in our almost 10 year involvement as part of the National Quality Enterprise - a collaboration to provide assistance to states in waiver quality management. As innovators in the use of modeling, HSRI continues to work with states to simulate the consequences of various resource allocation and program decisions. As publisher of The Riot, the Institute has partnered with self-advocates around the country to support their voice and point of view. HSRI, going forward, continues to refine and expand our core interests and expertise while exploring new ways and new tools to improve public human services systems.