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The Children’s Plan (pdf) represents a blueprint helping to build an understanding of ways that family engagement, support and youth voice play essential roles in developing the emotional well-being of children. The federal Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) principles are embraced in the Plan to ensure that every aspect of this Plan is built from a foundation of strengthening and supporting families.
The Children’s Plan (pdf) was developed in October 2008 by nine state agency Commissioners from child-serving agencies in New York State, who each signed off on the plan and have remained committed to work toward supporting the social and emotional well-being of children and their families. Since that time the NYS Department of Health is no longer a formal member of the group and the NYS Department of Labor has joined the group. The ENGAGE brand was developed to signal the commitment and vision of the Commissioners' Cross-Systems Committee to listen, support, assist and nurture a family’s strengths and abilities to raise their children. ENGAGE also symbolizes opportunities to build new kinds of relationships and meaningful connections among state agencies and with a host of family and youth partners. The Commissioners embrace the concept that family engagement, peer supports and youth voice play essential roles in developing the overall well-being of children.
The following four closely related initiatives all work to help meet the ENGAGE goals and objectives.
The Council on Children and Families plays a leadership role in coordinating the ENGAGE initiatives. The Council provides leadership; coordination; staff support; and facilitates cross-systems communication. In October 2009, Bill Przylucki was hired as the Statewide Children's Plan Director at the Council on Children and Families. Bill guides the implementation of the Children's Plan, coordinates the work of the Commissioners' Cross-Systems Senior Staff and Family and Youth Partners Workgroup and reports directly to state agency commissioners. Bill also works with appropriate state agency representatives to implement policy and regulatory reform to reduce barriers to implementing statewide systems of care, as well as support the development and dissemination of information related to assist New York State’s regions, counties, communities and families.
A group of senior-level staff from all agencies participating in the Commissioners' Cross-Systems Committee, as well as family and youth partners comprise the Commissioner's Senior Staff and Family and Youth Partners Workgroup. Currently, there are five workgroups that report monthly to the Senior Staff and Family & Youth Partners, as well as facilitate communication with the Commissioners' Committee, regional technical assistance teams (RTATs) and localities.
In addition to the ENGAGE workgroups, the ongoing efforts below also reflect the message of the Children's Plan.
Many assumptions are made about the types of children that are most difficult to serve, with relatively little data support these assumptions. The Council on Children and Families has developed a database and started entering data for cases received at the Council from 2007. The intake and data collection processes are being re-evaluated and the Council is currently testing a revised intake form. After evaluating the intake form and process, the database will be modified and used for both case management and data collection. The Council has future plans to implement some level of case follow-up.
The Council compiled a preliminary data report for cases received at the Council from 2007 through February 2010. New data will be posted as it becomes available.
The Children’s Plan includes a goal to “create infrastructures and funding mechanisms to support meaningful family and youth participation in planning and policy making and the improvement of services systems at the provider, local and state levels.” To achieve this goal, the following family and youth partners participate in all ENGAGE initiatives.
Looking forward, under the leadership of the CCF, the heads of the child‐serving state agencies with the active participation of family and youth partners and other stakeholders, will continue on the following paths that demonstrate fidelity to the values and principles undergirding the Children’s Plan and related ENGAGE activities:
Children and families remind us that they bear the ultimate costs when service systems fail to meet their needs. Collectively, the agencies that serve children must work efficiently and effectively to provide comprehensive supports that promote child well‐being. There is no option for realizing improved results for our children other than changing the way we do business. It is a time when new opportunities continue to emerge for helping to keep children and their families at the center of the system of care. Recent research, including a 2009 study by the Institute of Medicine*, support arguments that prevention and early recognition and intervention and treatment in natural settings yield better results; and that investments in children’s social and emotional development produce success and avoid costly, long‐term future failures.
At a time when state fiscal challenges are profound and the evidence on cost‐offset is so strong, the need to reprioritize our investment and reinvestment strategies is paramount. Our call to action is urgent and requires state leadership, collaboration, and honest communication among all participants. In New York State, the Council on Children and Families, with the support and commitment of the state’s health, human services, juvenile justice, and education agencies, and family and youth partners and other stakeholders, will continue to drive the development of effective solutions to challenging problems facing children and their families.
*Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities, March 12, 2009
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is a growing national effort to advance a set of values, principles, and practices for comprehensive, coordinated, strategic, and collaborative approaches for residential and community programs to better respond to and serve children and youth with emotional and/or behavioral health challenges, and their families. Organized under the auspices of the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch of the Center for Mental Health Services within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), BBI recently held its third Summit attended by some 170 youth, family members, advocates, residential and community services providers, as well as public agency staff. More than 20 persons from New York State including Children's Plan Director, Bill Przylucki, representing the Council on Children and Families and Commissioners' Committee on Cross-Systems Services for Children and Youth attended.
To learn more about the Children's Plan, please visit the Children's Plan FAQ page.