Systems of Care: Promising Practices in Children’s Mental Health

February 18, 1999

Dear Colleague:

It is with great pleasure that I am enclosing for you the first edition of an annual publication, Systems of Care: Promising Practices in Children’s Mental Health. These seven monographs highlight promising practices in the areas of training, wraparound service delivery, collaboration, school coordination, managed care, cultural competence, and roles for families, that have been demonstrated by many of the 22 original systems of care funded by the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program. This multi-million dollar grant program, which currently funds 41 systems of care, is demonstrating effective approaches to serving the needs of many of the 3.5 to 4 million children with serious emotional disturbance living in this country.

The Promising Practices series represents one small step to ensure that all Americans can have the latest available information about how best to help serve and support these children at home and in their community. Children with serious emotional disturbance utilize many publicly funded systems, including child welfare, juvenile justice, special education, and mental health, and they and their families often face obstacles to gaining the care they need due to the difficulties and gaps in navigating multiple service systems. Systems of care provide a promising solution for these children and their families by coordinating or integrating the services and supports they need across all of these public service systems. The systems of care highlighted in this series are developing, demonstrating, and testing out new approaches to delivering services in a coordinated, comprehensive, and effective manner.

As these monographs show, the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program has evaluated and developed promising practices that represent an invaluable return on our investment. The practices used in our programs throughout the country have improved and will continue to directly improve the health and lives of children and families. Not only are our research-based findings useful in justifying the existence of publicly funded health care systems, but they are extremely important for those interested in addressing age old battles over the need for parity and the availability of cost-effective mental health services.

These documents were written so that they could provide other community-driven systems of care, both those funded under our program and others, with the opportunity to learn from and replicate aspects of these promising practices. With that goal in mind, I encourage you to share the enclosed series with colleagues, and use these documents as contributions to the ongoing expansion of the knowledge base on how to most effectively serve children with emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs within the context of their homes and communities. It is our firm belief within the Child, Adolescent, and Family Branch that these promising practices can be an invaluable resource to communities wishing to begin or enhance their own systems of care. Copies of these documents, as well as additional information regarding them, can be found on the web site of the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice <>.


Gary De Carolis

Gary De Carolis
Chief, Child, Adolescent and Family Branch
Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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