What are Systems of Care?
The System of Care (SOC) approach was developed to address problems in the mental health systems for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances (SED) and their families including:
- Significant unmet need for mental health care
- Overuse of restrictive settings
- Limited home- and community-based service options
- Lack of cross-agency coordination
- Lack of partnership with families and youth
A local SOC implements and sustains an array of home and community-based services and supports.
Systems of Care focus on children, youth and young adults receiving services from multiple systems.
SOCs support the goals of continuity and coordination of services over time and across systems. At the service level, families and youth are active partners in determining services and supports they will access, as well as incorporating the use of natural supports.
“System of Care” is not a program — it is a philosophy.
The SOC framework is a coordinated network of services and supports that are organized to meet the physical, mental, social, emotional, education, and developmental needs of children and their families, so they can achieve their own definition of success and equitable outcomes.
The SOC framework is comprised of three components:
- A clear philosophy intended to guide services delivery for young people and their families.
- An infrastructure to fulfill essential functions.
- A comprehensive array of services and supports.
Video Link – Understanding NYS System of Care
The SOC framework is not focused solely on meeting the mental health needs of children, youth and young adults and their families. The framework aligns with other child serving systems’ desired outcomes, such as:
Child Welfare / Social Services
- Children and youth are in safe and stable homes
- Ensure families are able to meet their children’s needs
- Reunify and preserve families
Education / Schools
- Higher academic achievement and accountability
- Higher attendance / lower absenteeism
- Increased positive behavior / fewer behavioral problems
- More time for teaching and learning
- Increased family involvement and community connection
- Continuum of supports including increased communication and coordination
- Prevention of disease and injury, improved functioning
- Promotion of healthy behaviors
- Help for the sick and hurt
- Improved communication and coordination
- Accessible health services for all Americans
- Increase the opportunities for and improve the ability of youth to live productively and responsibly in their communities
- Reduced recidivism
Supporting those with Developmental Challenges
- Employment outcomes in ways that are unique and appropriate for each person
- Maintaining low level of safety risks, ensure safety of self, others and environment, individual has what they need
- Families and individuals are supported to be partners in the development of person-centered goals
Systems of Care Support Children, Families and Our Communities by providing:
- Stability and Efficient Use of Resources
- Successful, Safe and Supportive Learning Opportunities Better Coordination and Collaboration among Primary Health Care and Mental Health Care
- Positive Experiences
That’s why it is so important that we work together!
Adapted from Stroul, B.A., Blau, G.M., & Larsen, J. (2021). The Evolution of the System of Care Approach. Baltimore: The Institute for Innovation and Implementation, School of Social Work, University of Maryland.
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