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Boston Children’s Hospital, Franciscan Children’s Finalize New Affiliation to Reshape Children’s Mental Health and Rehabilitative Care

BOSTON, Mass. (June 29, 2023) — As part of their joint effort to create a unique system of pediatric mental health and rehabilitative care, research, and teaching, Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and Franciscan Children’s (FC) announced today that they have finalized their affiliation agreement and will officially close on the agreement as of July 1.

This affiliation will reshape children’s mental health and rehabilitative care in Massachusetts and throughout the region. The organizations will make significant investments to increase available beds, build a more diverse care workforce, modernize the Franciscan campus, and expand community-based prevention programs. As sister organizations, Boston Children’s and Franciscan Children’s will be able to offer a fully integrated care system — providing children with care where and when they need it, all with one point of contact for families. 

“We are in the midst of a children’s mental health crisis, and it’s clear our system simply isn’t working for children and families,” said Boston Children’s Hospital President and CEO Dr. Kevin Churchwell. “It’s why we are coming together as one team to act with the urgency this crisis demands. Together we will reshape children’s mental health and rehabilitative care through a fully integrated approach focused on improved prevention, identification, and treatment of these diseases. And we’ll do it while breaking down barriers caused by systemic racism and ensuring that every child has access to care regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or zip code.”

“Franciscan Children’s is thrilled about this new affiliation that will allow us to better deliver on our mission, expand clinical programs, and modernize our campus,” said Franciscan Children’s President and CEO Dr. Joseph Mitchell. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity together to create a transformative new model of children’s behavioral and rehabilitative care, better serving the needs of our community and the children and families we serve. We cannot wait to start this new chapter with our partners at Boston Children’s Hospital.”

The organizations are affiliating as sister hospitals to more effectively confront an acute children’s mental health crisis in Massachusetts and across the country, and advance equitable access to care and eliminate disparities. By joining together, the two organizations will work to improve the lives of children and families by:

  • Improving care by modernizing programs and facilities. This affiliation will invest more than $500 million to modernize the Franciscan Children’s campus, which dates back to the 1940s. This will include a new, state-of-the-art net carbon-neutral building that will house the full continuum of care programs for medical rehabilitation and mental health services.
  • Offering the full range of integrated care that children need. By coming together, Boston Children’s and Franciscan Children’s will offer a fully integrated continuum of care across inpatient, outpatient, primary care, and school-based settings.
  • Building a new, more diverse generation of caregivers. By 2030, the organizations intend to hire 150 to 200 new full-time employees related to care for children, and invest in programs to build a diverse employee pipeline from high school through medical school. They will also increase training programs for students and staff.
  • Increasing the number of beds available. Boston Children’s and Franciscan Children’s will increase the number of available beds for inpatient services from 98 to 127, and nearly double the behavioral health bed capacity. This will reduce the number of kids forced to board in emergency rooms for medical and mental health needs.
  • Expanding services. They will create and expand intensive outpatient therapy and partial hospitalization programs that will reduce the likelihood that mental health patients reach crisis levels.
  • Increasing sustained investments in research. Research is the future of children’s mental health because the underlying causes are still poorly understood. The organizations will make sustained investments in research, better integrate research and clinical faculty, and hire three to four new clinician scientists.
  • Expanding community- and school-based prevention programs. Boston Children’s and Franciscan Children’s plan to expand their community, early education, and school-based programs.

This affiliation will also be a game changer for children with complex medical needs. Franciscan Children’s is the only pediatric provider of post-acute services to medically complex children in Massachusetts and New England. Franciscan Children’s is seeing an increase in the size and acuity of this vulnerable patient population. The modernization of the Franciscan Children’s campus will dramatically expand services and improve care for these children and include a new signature rehabilitation facility that doesn’t exist anywhere else in this region. The investment will also improve facilities to provide dental surgery to children with complex medical and mental/behavioral health needs.