Community Bridges

Program Overview


The START (Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resource, and Treatment) model was first developed in 1988 by Dr. Joan B. Beasley and her colleagues in Northeast Massachusetts. There are currently 15 states in the U.S., which provide START services. New Hampshire is one of the first to provide START services statewide. The program serves a target population of individuals with co-occurring intellectual disability and behavioral health needs. START is a short-term service and does not replace the need to continue with community supports and services already in place for individuals. START provides services for individuals ages 6 through the lifespan, experiencing developmental disability and mental health concerns.

The START mission is to enhance local capacity and provide collaborative, cost-effective support to individuals and their families through exemplary clinical services, education, and training, with close attention to service outcomes. Based on a public health tertiary care model, START services promote the ability for all individuals with disabilities to access appropriate supports and service in their local community, while offering additional resources and services as needed during times of complexity and crisis in pursuit of this effort.

Community Bridges has partnered with the Bureau of Developmental Services and University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability to establish NH START services. This began with the development of a statewide network of certified START Coordinators representing the 10 Area Agencies across the state


  • START = Systemic, Therapeutic Assessment, Resources, and Treatment
  • START is a systems-linkage approach to supports. The individuals who benefit from START have Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) and behavioral health conditions or challenging behaviors that negatively affect their quality of life. The underlying philosophy of START is that services are most effective when everyone involved in supports and treatment is allowed to participate actively in treatment planning and service decisions. In order for this to occur, collaboration between service providers and with service users is needed.
  • START helps teams anticipate and prevent crisis and plan for what to do when it happens anyway.
  • START is not here to take over a person/system and “fix it” or “them,” but to work with teams to build bridges for stronger supports. START does not replace any member of the team, but enhances the system that already exists.
  • Driven by a person-centered approach in the context of the system of support, the START model offers proactive clinically-based consultation and training for crisis prevention and intervention.

Comprehensive Systems & Services Evaluation
The first step in accessing START services is to undergo a comprehensive systems and services evaluation. Led by experts on the START model, evaluations provide a comprehensive overview of the systems of care in a region or state and illustrate where efficiencies, linkages, community involvement, and resources may be enhanced to strengthen service outcomes for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families.

Training & Consultation
Expert training and consultation is offered through NH START Services in a variety of ways to START projects across the nation. From online meetings and trainings to in-person consultation, experts in the intellectual/developmental disability field lead trainings and consultation sessions to build capacity and strengthen systems of care for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families.

Technical Support & Clinical Expertise
Driven by a person’s needs, NH START Services offers clinically-based technical support and expertise that focuses on the systemic, therapeutic, assessment, respite, and treatment options for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families.

Community Bridges is a non-profit agency serving the communities of central New Hampshire. Disability is a natural part of the human experience and may occur as a result of developmental impairments, injury, or aging. We advance the integration, growth, and interdependence of people with disabilities in their home communities in ways that promote their ability to have positive control over the lives they have chosen for themselves.