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The mission of the Consumer Satisfaction Team, Inc. is to ensure
that specific publicly supported and funded services meet theexpressed
wishes and needs of the consumers of those services and that they promote
maximal recovery of persons served. This mission is accomplished through
active solicitation and reporting of those wishes and needs from recipients
and family members, through feedback to service providers and funders, and
through training consistent with findings and best practice.

- The Consumer Satisfaction Team, Inc. Board of Directors, 2007


When the Consumer Satisfaction Team, Inc. (CST) was created in 1990, it was

the first organization of its kind in the country. Staffed entirely by individuals who
have received behavioral health services and family members, its goal was to
ensure quality assurance from the perspective of the user of services.
The impetus for its creation was the closure of the state-run psychiatric hospital, Philadelphia State Hospital, and the desire of people receiving behavioral health services, family members, advocates as well as the City of Philadelphia
that not only the needs, but also the preferences of people discharged from the hospital, be considered in the design and delivery of community services.

CST's success in fulfilling its initial mandate has resulted in a greatly expanded
role and now includes all of Philadelphia's public mental health and substance
abuse services provided to both adults and children including those
authorized by the City's Medicaid managed behavioral health organization.


CST has always been staffed by individuals recovering from mental illnesses

as well as family members. Since CST's role has expanded from its original
mandate to include substance abuse treatment as well as children and
adolescent programs, CST staff has also grown to include those who have
received substance abuse and children's behavioral health services.
This has been invaluable in establishing relationships with individuals receiving
behavioral health services based on honest and trusting communication.

CST staff is paid competitive salaries and does not function as volunteers. Before making site visits, new staff must participate in
extensive training in CST values, interviewing techniques, report writing and record keeping, as well as how Philadelphia's
Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility works. Ongoing training is also provided throughout the year.


CST staff make unannounced visits to mental health and substance abuse sites every day of the week. They visit day treatment programs, drop-in Centers, Clubhouses, detoxification, recovery programs, outpatient sites, inpatient facilities and crisis centers.

The staff generally visit in teams of two and promptly follow up each visit with a written report that is sent to both the provider and the funding authority. These reports follow a prescribed format which identifies needs, strengths, areas requiring special attention, concerns and satisfactions. The reports do not include the opinions, assumptions or interpretations of CST staff.


The effectiveness of the Consumer Satisfaction Team is dependent upon all the stakeholders being accountable. CST meets regularly and frequently with the senior staff from Philadelphia's mental healh and substance abuse treatment funding authorities (Office of Mental Health, Office of Addiction Services, and Community Behavioral Health). At these meetings, each report is reviewed and general issues are discussed. In addition, the funding authorities submit written reports to CST documenting how each consumer concern that was identified at the previous meeting has been addressed. This ensures a prompt response to issues.


From its inception, CST has been committed to a collaborative approach in working with the mental health and substance abuse treatment system. CST sees itself as part of a problem-solving team that includes the funding authorities, the providers of services as well as consumers and family members. This approach has been successful in dispelling initial provider resistance to the organization and has won CST provider support and accolades.


CST staff, representing the perspectives and values of family members and those receiving behavioral health services, have played an increasingly important role in system-wide policy and program decisions through participation in a wide variety of City and State committees. In addition, CST has been invited to provide training and consultation to groups across the country about its model of quality assurance.


In Philadelphia, the mental health and substance abuse treatment system has come to recognize the importance of being responsible and accountable to the voices of those receiving services and their family members. While satisfaction with what is provided will not always result in the desired outcome, it certainly helps in bringing people one step closer to a successful recovery. And changing systems one person at a time is what CST is all about!


The Consumer Satisfaction Team celebrates our 27th anniversary in 2017. Here is a brief history of how the organization began, and the journey to where we are today.

In 1987, PA Governor Casey announced the closing of Philadelphia State Hospital (Byberry). While it was a worthwhile venture to close the state hospital, there were some serious issues that were taken into consideration with discharging patients into the community. CST was established in October of 1990 to track approximately 500 individuals who were affected by the closing of Philadelphia State Hospital to ascertain their satisfaction with community based services. CST had the full support of local mental health authority at that time, which was the Office of Mental Health (OMH). It was deemed that CST was to have direct access to decision makers and remain separate from and not influenced/controlled by the local authority. CST established relationships with OMH to afford correction of issues, to establish needed services and to guarantee individual's satisfaction. Accountability meetings were established to address the concerns/issues voiced by individuals and family members regarding MH services.

It was decided that CST staff were to be composed of individuals and family members of individuals that use the MH services. CST started out with three staff members. Two months later staff was increased to six (three individuals who identified themselves as people receiving/have received behavioral health services, two family members and an administrative assistant). In the spring of 1991, the Board of Directors were established, the by-laws and Mission Statement were created, and CST became incorporated. Consumers/family members comprise 51% of the Board and Loretta Ferry was hired as Executive Director.

In March of 1992 the staff increased to nine. In July of 1993, CST became involved in State initiated CHIPS (Community Hospital Integration Program) projects.

August 1993, CST was on the move and established it’s first field office in West Philadelphia with two staff members.

During January of 1994, CST provided consultation to SE PA counties and began negotiation to contract with other counties interested in forming a CST. Also during 1994, OMH authorized CST to expand to include all MH services contracted with OMH. Additional staff were hired, two direct line staff and a business manager.

In 1995, CST assumed fiscal and programmatic responsibilities for Delaware County, PA CST. Over the years, CST has developed cohesiveness between the Delaware and Philadelphia County’s offices. In house trainings are often held with staff from both offices to create a seamless, similar reporting process.

In 1996, CST began a Managed Care initiative for Medical assistance recipients who voluntarily enrolled in HMO’s. Not long after, Health Choices was implemented in SE PA. The City of Philadelphia contracted with CST through its funding authorities, OMH, Community Behavioral Health (CBH) and the Coordinating Office of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Programs (CODAAP) to ascertain satisfaction with behavioral health services (Children/adolescent, Adult MH and Substance Abuse Services). Also under Health Choices an Ombudsperson for the Behavioral Health System was required. The Ombudsperson for Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility (DBHIDS) is housed at CST’s Office. During this time, CST also became fiduciary for the Behavioral Health Training Education Network (BHTEN).

It should also be noted that Philadelphia was the first in the country to have a consumer satisfaction team. CST is an integral part of the Pennsylvania’s Mental Health Plan, which resulted in Appendix L, which is part of the contract CBH has with the State of Pennsylvania.

During the fiscal year 2007/2008, CST contracted with the Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide DHS with direct feedback on the quality, effectiveness and the delivery of out of home placement services in the group homes and institutions within the seven counties of SE PA. CST held this contract for two years.

CST is also active in participating in various community outings to bring awareness and further the mission of the behavioral health system’s transformation. Over the years, CST has sparked national and international interest and has visited and/or had visits with delegates from the states of Maryland, Alaska, Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts and Wisconsin and the countries of Israel, Japan and the United Kingdom to provide consultation.

CST has written and been featured in numerous publications that include the NAMI Advocate, MidAtlantic Regional Information Exchange and Behavioral Health Tomorrow.

Presently, CST has an Executive Director, Valerie Byrd, and 16 direct staff that do all site visits. In addition, CST employs nine administrative staff including fiscal, managerial, supervisory and clerical positions.

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For more information contact:
The Consumer Satisfaction Team, Inc.
520 N. Delaware Ave., 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Phone (215) 923-9627