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

June 5, 2000

Dear Colleague:

It is with great pleasure that I send to you the 2000 series of the Systems of Care: Promising Practices in Children’s Mental Health. The enclosed second edition of the series includes three monographs which highlight promising practices in the areas of program implementation for American Indian youth, use of evaluation data to improve and sustain systems of care, and strategies to ensure financial sustainability for systems of care. The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program, which currently funds 45 community-based systems of care, is demonstrating effective approaches to serving the needs of many of the 3 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 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 service systems. The systems of care highlighted in this series are developing, demonstrating, and testing out new approaches to delivering mental health services.

As the monographs in this and the 1998 series 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 health care systems, but they are extremely important for those interested in addressing age old battles over the need for parity and availability of cost-effective mental health services delivered in communities.

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 form 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 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 practice 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 http://cecp.air.org.

Sincerely,

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

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