DUE DATE: June 12th 3:00pm 


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant adverse impact on the mental health and wellbeing ofyouth and families in Maryland. Recent studies have found, for example, that the pandemic has significantly exacerbated pre-existing substance use disorders in youth and increased reported mental health problems and substance use. Further, in comparison to 2019, rates of suicide-related behavior in youth were remarkably higher during COVID-19 in response to heightened stressors. Finally, studies have found a marked increase in family conflict and parental stress during COVID-19.

The Maryland Department of Health Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) is committed to helping youth and their families address the behavioral problems that were caused or exacerbated by the pandemic, to increase the overall wellbeing and health of Maryland youth and their families. In an effort to help address COVID-related increased family and youth stressors, including increased substance use in youth, BHA would like to implement a paired mobile application platform supporting an evidence-based digital technology app to reduces alcohol, marijuana, and other substance misuse in youth. It is our hope that such a technology for youth and their caregivers could be readily scalable, rapidly deployed throughout the state of Maryland, and ultimately have the capacity to significantly expand reach and public health impact.

This RFA leverages and builds upon existing BHA efforts such as:

A. Training and building provider capacity to provide evidence-based family-focused prevention and early intervention programs that target youth impacted by substance use disorders.

B. Establishing processes for providing evidence-based prevention services directly to parents and caregivers throughout the state and enhancing capacities of partner organizations to continue to provide family-focused prevention programs directly to parents and caregivers statewide.

C. Improving behavioral health supports targeted populations, including transitional-age youth and youth experiencing mental health crises.

D. Supports a growing awareness of the value of youth led, youth targeted, innovative technology supported approaches to better engage this at-risk population.

Purpose: In an effort to help address COVID-related increased family and youth stressors, including increased alcohol and marijuana use in youth, the BHA plans to provide such a paired mobile application platform to all Maryland families who want it; to build a technological infrastructure specific to Maryland for straightforward delivery of this platform to users and to track Maryland-specific data analytics such as number and age of users; and to engage in rigorous outreach and dissemination techniques to ensure the widest possible reach. To achieve success, it is expected that this project will utilize best practices in implementation science to ensure its successful adoption throughout Maryland. It is also expected that this platform, and this marketing effort will effectively reach youth and their families. Elements that will help to ensure implementation success include the use of family peer support specialists to promote use of this platform among families in Maryland who could benefit, as well as promoting the platform through school behavioral health support systems, community collaborative partnerships, and through a wide array of other state level medical and professional organizations (i.e. Maryland Branch of the American Association of Pediatrics, state behavioral health clinician licensing boards, mobile mental health crisis teams etc.).

3.2 Scope of Work – Requirements

The Applicant shall:

3.2.1 General Requirements Establish a steering committee comprised of key stakeholders statewide to advise on all stages of the project.


a. Recruit and establish a steering committee comprised of key stakeholders, including individuals representing adolescent substance abuse and mental health professionals; community-based organizations who support family engagement and outreach (e.g., family peer support specialists); schools; faith-based organizations; leaders of other

BHA-funded youth and family substance misuse initiatives (e.g., SOR-funded projects); and youth and caregivers with lived experience.

b. Offer opportunities for representation on the steering committee to persons in all Maryland regions (Western, Capital, Central, Mid-Shore, Lower Shore, and Southern).

c. Hold monthly steering committee meetings during the project planning phase.

d. Incorporate steering committee and other stakeholder feedback into implementation strategy master plan.

e. Inform steering committee of platform usage analytic data and incorporate committee feedback for continuous quality improvement. Create an implementation strategy master plan for an evidence-based, digital technology paired mobile application platform that is consistent with the implementation science evidence and tailored to the unique needs of Maryland families.


a. Prioritize settings and primary populations for digital technology implementation.

b. Develop a comprehensive marketing and communication strategy for direct-to-family provision.

c. Specify the role that the steering committee and other engaged community-level leaders will play in dissemination efforts.

d. Specify the role that Family Peer Specialists (FPS) will play in dissemination and implementation efforts.

e. Respond to inquiries made by school-based personnel, behavioral health professionals, youth serving organizations, medical providers, and any other persons who might recommend this application to the youth and caregivers they serve.

f. Articulate how the implementation strategy master plan will align with other state-funded efforts aimed at youth behavioral health and prevention.

g. Outline a timeline for meeting implementation strategy master plan milestones. Develop and distribute marketing and outreach materials that will maximize the success of and be consistent with the implementation strategy master plan.


a. Solicit feedback from the steering committee and other stakeholder groups to develop and distribute marketing and outreach materials.

b. Provide a Maryland-facing page for this technology platform, integrated into the existing Maryland Families and Youth Interventions behavioral health resources webpage, to include one or more videos to market or demonstrate the technology, and other written and image-based materials suitable for social media and other media campaigns. Build the technical infrastructure necessary for families to access this resource easily and at no cost.


a. Develop mechanisms such as quick response (QR) codes or website links that will allow users to load the app on their phones readily and without paywalls.

b. Develop confidential app registration/enrollment fields that will capture key user analytics needed for this project (e.g., youth age, youth gender identification, racial/cultural identity, county of residence, how the family learned about the app, and user satisfaction).

c. Create functionality for Maryland-specific user support and customer service. Enlist Family Peer Specialists (FPS) to assist in dissemination and implementation.


a. Recruit at least two parents with lived experience of helping a child overcome substance misuse to serve as Family Peer Specialists (FPS) and be a part of the implementation phase of the project.

b. Train all FPS staff, in accordance with national standards for FPS training, in best practices for parent peer support.

c. Train all FPS staff in how to use this platform to address adolescent substance misuse.

d. Document and report all FPS outreach efforts and direct family contacts, as part of quarterly reporting requirements set forth for this project. Provide the evidence-based technology application to a minimum of 100 youth and caregivers statewide.


a. Recruit, onboard, and provide resource to at least 100 caregivers and 100 youths between the ages of 10-18.

b. Provide full access to program to each participating group for a minimum of six months. The version of this application provided should be the latest, most fully developed market-ready version available at the time of family onboarding.

c. Provide customer support and technical assistance to any caregiver or parent who requests it.

d. Ensure easy and direct access to Maryland’s crisis hotline and other emergency services, if an adult or youth user seeking customer support indicates suicidality.

3.2.2 Required Staffing Project Investigator- supervise the Program Director and other staff, manage implementation plan development, and review administrative progress reports. Requires a Ph.D. or a M.D in an area such as public health, statistics, or psychology, with a minimum of five years of research and implementation experience in adolescent mental health and substance abuse. Program Director- manage subawards, direct implementation activities, and serve as primary BHA contact to discuss updates and ensure that BHA’s priorities are being met. Monitor the budget and write administrative reports related to this work. Requires a master’s degree in a related field, with a minimum of three years of experience in grant monitoring. The positions listed above are not required to be 100% FTE. Please specify anticipated FTE in proposal for all staff. The Contractor could recruit for these positions and/or use staffing within their organization.

3.2.3 Reporting Capture and report data, on a quarterly basis, relating to user demographic characteristics, county of residence, app usage, and satisfaction.


a. Implement program to be used by families in at least 4 different Maryland counties.

b. Track users using the evidence-based technology application for a minimum of 45 days.

c. Survey youth and caregivers on the use of platform e.g.: easy-to-use, satisfaction with its use, intuitive, recommendation to others, and easy to incorporate into the flow of their lives.

d. A summary of activities and progress made during the quarter on reaching the deliverables, 3.2.1, including key accomplishments, challenges and barriers, and implementation updates.

e. The quarterly rep

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