Center for START Services

The Center for START ServicesSTART is a research-based model of services and supports for individuals with an intellectual/developmental disability (IDD) ages six and older who also have a mental health (MH) diagnosis or behavioral health needs. Center for START Services program staff are leaders in the field of mental health & IDD that work with state/regional agencies across the country to facilitate the implementation of START model programs and provide expert training to many professional disciplines that serve individuals with MH/IDD.

Watch the START Overview Training Video to learn more about START

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 behavioral 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

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.

More Information

For more information about the START model, please visit

Age Levels: 
All Ages
Early Childhood
Middle/High School
Older Adult