About Us

The National Center for START Services is an initiative that works to strengthen efficiencies and service outcomes for people with IDD and mental health needs in the community. The National Center was established at the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability in 2009 to provide technical assistance, clinical expertise, 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 & opportunities

  • Cross-systems crisis prevention & intervention planning

  • Family support, education & outreach

  • Interdisciplinary collaboration

The START Model was developed and implemented in 1988 by Dr. Joan B. Beasley and her team to provide community-based crisis intervention for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and mental health needs. The model is evidence-informed and utilizes a national database. It is a person-centered, solutions-focused approach that employs positive psychology and other evidence-based practices.  START Stands for Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment.

Learn More About Us and the START Model

The START Model Overview

START Documentary Film


The National Center for START Services aims to improve the lives of persons with IDD and mental health needs and their families through fidelity to the START model with exemplary services and supports that emphasize local, person-centered, positive, multidisciplinary, cost-effective and evidence-informed practices.


START includes the following values in daily practice through decision-making, work contributions, and interpersonal interactions:

  • Service recipients and their families are our most valued partners.

  • Capacity building begins with positive engagement - whether it is an individual or a large system. We emphasize building upon abilities in each individual and in their system of support.

  • Help begins with providing oxygen - helping to resolve an immediate destabilizing situation allows for hope and change going forward.

  • Networking - increases depth of knowledge and capacity to provide services for all.

  • We must all be open to learning and teaching - through continuous assessment of outcomes along with educational opportunities with easily accessible local, regional, statewide, national forums, study groups and training materials.

  • The three A’s of service effectiveness - Access, Appropriateness and Accountability.

  • Tertiary crisis intervention approach to supporting vulnerable populations - building capacity through primary interventions, including secondary interventions with expertise for specialized approaches, and including a safety net for emergency interventions are all part of the solution focused approach.

  • Team effort - we work as a team to create opportunities. This includes mutual respect that allows for team input to help the program continue to improve and change over time.

  • Community – develop and maintain fellowship with others that share common attitudes, values, interests, and goals.

  • Fidelity – provide training and consultation to support the integrity of activities that make the START Model effective and directly impact the success of desired outcomes.

  • Humanity – conduct all activities with compassion, understanding, and kindness.