A system of care is a spectrum of effective, community-based services and supports for children and youth with or at risk for mental health or other challenges and their families, that is organized into a coordinated network, builds meaningful partnerships with families and youth, and addresses their cultural and linguistic needs, in order to help them to function better at home, in school, in the community, and throughout life.
Systems of Care are:
- Family driven and youth guided, with the strengths and needs of the child and family determining the types and mix of services and supports provided.
- Community based, with the locus of services, as well as system management, resting within a supportive, adaptive infrastructure of structures, processes, and relationships at the community level.
- Culturally and linguistically competent, with agencies, programs, and services that reflect the cultural, racial, ethnic, and linguistic differences of the populations they serve to facilitate access to and utilization of appropriate services and supports.
Guiding Principles in Systems of Care Are Designed To:
- Ensure availability and access to a broad, flexible array of effective, community-based care, services and supports for children and their families that address their emotional, social, educational, and physical needs, including traditional and nontraditional services as well as natural and informal supports.
- Provide individualized care in accordance with the unique potentials and needs of each child and family, guided by a strengths-based, child and family team approach to a care planning process and an individualized Plan of Care developed in true partnership with the child and family.
- Ensure that care, services and supports include evidence-informed and promising practices, as well as interventions supported by practice-based evidence, to ensure the effectiveness of services and improve outcomes for children and their families.
- Deliver care, services and supports within the least restrictive, most normative environments that are clinically appropriate.
- Ensure that families, other caregivers, and youth are full partners in all aspects of the planning and delivery of their own care/services and in the policies and procedures that govern care for all children and youth in their community.
- Ensure that care, support and services are integrated at the system level, with linkages between child-serving agencies and programs across administrative and funding boundaries and mechanisms for system-level management, coordination, and integrated care management.
- Provide care management or similar mechanisms at the practice level to ensure that multiple services are delivered in a coordinated and therapeutic manner and that children and their families can move through the network of care in accordance with their changing needs.
- Provide developmentally appropriate mental health care and supports that promote optimal social-emotional outcomes for young children and their families in their homes and community settings.
- Provide developmentally appropriate care and supports, to facilitate the transition of youth to adulthood and to the adult service system.
- Incorporate or link with mental health promotion, prevention, and early identification and intervention in order to improve long-term outcomes, including mechanisms to identify problems at an earlier stage and mental health promotion and prevention activities directed at all children and adolescents.
- Incorporate continuous accountability and quality improvement mechanisms to track, monitor, and manage the achievement of network of care goals; fidelity to the network of care philosophy; and quality, effectiveness, and outcomes at the system level, practice level, and child and family level.
- Protect the rights of children and families and promote effective advocacy efforts.
- Provide care, services and supports without regard to race, religion, national origin, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, physical disability, socio-economic status, geography, language, immigration status, or other characteristics, and ensure that services are sensitive and responsive to these differences.