Those Who Serve: Alaina

As far as career paths go, it’s fair to say that Alaina Lyon was destined to work in this field. Alaina is Program Director for BHN’s Intensive Care Coordination program, which works with children and youth who have severe emotional and behavioral health needs. Alaina knew from a young age that this was her passion and has since flourished within BHN.

Alaina grew up in Brattleboro, Vermont, and by the time she was 15 years old — just a freshman in high school — she was approached by a social worker who was running a peer outreach program centered on health education at her school. As a peer educator, Alaina explains, “I got to see how policy changes are implemented, and the impact these policies had on my generation.” She was hooked. Alaina continued in this role through graduation and went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Elms College, followed by a Master’s degree in Social Work from Springfield College. Alaina took a full-time position with an organization in Northampton assisting homeless individuals and families to find housing while developing the skills necessary for self-sufficiency. The work she conducted reinforced her passion for social work, which led her to BHN.

In graduate school, Alaina had read about ‘wraparound,’ a term used to describe the coordination of multiple services via a tailored plan. “I immediately knew this was the work I wanted to do, but it didn’t exist yet in Massachusetts,” Alaina said. A year after receiving her Master’s, Alaina saw an ad for a wraparound pilot program at BHN, applied, and accepted a position as a care manager. “I’m not an office person, so I really loved the outreach component to this work, getting to know the people in the community.” In 2009, the wraparound program, known as Intensive Care Coordination (ICC), was launched statewide. As a result, Alaina was promoted to a supervisory role where she worked alongside program directors to fully implement the program at BHN.

Now, as Program Director for ICC at BHN, Alaina and her team have helped build the program into a valuable resource for many families in the area. With Alaina at the helm, the ICC team’s overarching goal for each case is to “get all providers on the same page, clarify each provider’s role, get the child connected with community supports, get the parents connected with the right resources, and at the end, develop a transition plan.” Part of this coordination involves running monthly meetings where all community providers come together to discuss barriers, challenges, successes, and areas of need. On a personal level, Alaina’s passion for the work she started when she was 15 has grown even stronger over the years, and shows no signs of stopping. “In working with families, my priority is to instill hope — to show them there’s hope at the end of all this, and that we will get there together.”