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“If we are to achieve a richer culture...we must weave one in which each human gift will find a fitting place.”              

- Margaret Mead

Center for START Services

Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources & Treatment


This graphic is described in the caption following the next link

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Caption: this illustration shows the Public Health Model & START. It's overall purpose is to show that as intervention happens sooner, the greater the positive impact and that the overall required intensity of intervention (i.e. Emergency Room Services and hospitalizations) decreases.

The Center for START Services at the Institute on Disability/UCED at the University of New Hampshire is a national initiative that works to strengthen efficiencies and service outcomes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and behavioral health needs in the community.

The START program model was implemented in 1988 by Dr. Joan Beasley and her team to provide community-based crisis intervention for individuals with IDD and mental health needs. It is a person-centered, solutions-focused approach that employs positive psychology and other evidence-based practices.

Cited as a model program in the 2002 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on mental health disparities for persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities, START is a comprehensive model of service supports that optimizes independence, treatment, and community living for individuals with IDD and behavioral health needs.

START is an evidence-informed model that utilizes a national database. The Center for START Services was established in 2009 at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability/UCED

The Center for START Services provides technical support, clinical expertise, and training and consultation services that support the development of:

  • Comprehensive Evaluation of Services & Systems of Care (local and state)
  • A systems linkage approach to service provision
  • Expert Assessment & Clinical Support
  • Outcomes-Based Research & Evaluation
  • Short-Term Therapeutic Resources and Opportunities
  • Cross Systems Crisis Prevention & Intervention Planning
  • Family Support, Education & Outreach
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration


By supporting the development of the cornerstones of the START model as outlined above, START programs and their participants experience an array of benefits including:

  • Reduced use of emergency services and state facility/hospital stays
  • High rates of satisfaction by families and care recipients
  • Cost-effective service delivery
  • Increased community involvement and crisis expertise in communities
  • Strengthened linkages that enrich systems, increase resources, and fill in service gaps


For more information about START programs across the nation, explore our map that outlines where START programs have been implemented.