NYS Success: Connecting Systems of Care with Children and Families
“System of Care” is not a program — it is a philosophy. The System of Care (SOC) framework is a coordinated network of community‐based services and supports that is organized to meet the physical, mental, social, emotional, educational, and developmental needs of children and their families. For SOC to be successful, all stakeholders act as equal partners with the youth and family guiding the process. This allows for supports to be effective, build on the strengths of individuals and those that care about them while addressing each person’s cultural and linguistic needs. A SOC helps children, youth, and families function better at home, in school, in the community, and throughout life. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ‐ SAMHSA)
By implementing the SOC approach and values (such as being family driven, youth guided, and culturally competent), communities are able to work toward a more integrated process in which all of the providers and agencies that support youth and families are not working in silos, but rather as part of a collaborative effort to ensure their success.
The System of Care philosophy is based around the following desired outcomes:
- Promoting wellness of children and youth across their lifespan
- Multi‐system sharing of resources and responsibilities
- Array of necessary and appropriate services and supports
- Collaboration across systems and traditional funding silos
- Engaging and supporting families in raising their children with emotional health and resilience
In addition to establishing a foundation of shared values and principles between individual community departments and agencies, a truly successful SOC approach focuses on building meaningful relationships with the families and youth they serve. Family and youth are involved as partners in the process rather than merely service recipients, and are utilized as significant resources for their own plan of care as well as their input on all systems‐based initiatives.
New York State has a long history of integrating and implementing SOC at the local level dating back to the 1990’s. NYS Success aims to expand System of Care to all counties across the state above New York City and Long Island by creating a statewide structure and network of communities and state agencies working together to create sustainable, beneficial change to coordinate supports.
In 2012, SAMHSA awarded Upstate New York with a four year, four million dollar grant to support broad‐scale operation, expansion and integration of systems of care through the creation of sustainable infrastructure. This will allow for the provision of and access to required services and supports that include the values, principles, and practices comprising the system of care approach to become the primary way in which children’s services are delivered in all counties throughout New York State. Additional funding has also been provided by the New York State Office of Mental Health to support these efforts. What originated as the Upstate New York System of Care Expansion Project has now given way to the creation of a permanent cross‐county system, known as NYS Success: Connecting Systems of Care with Children and Families.
With the assistance of a designated core implementation and planning team, all 55 upstate counties are expected to successfully integrate and sustain the SOC values, principles and practices within their own communities. Over the course of four years, each county will be brought into the NYS Success network as a member of one of four learning collaborative cohorts. Each year, the team and existing mentor counties (including New York City and Long Island) within NYS Success will work together with the cohorts to assist in the building and strengthening of System of Care. A consultant (technical assistance, training, coaching and resources) pool will be available to each cohort providing the support needed for success. Additionally, as counties are brought into the NYS Success network, they will be able to apply for funding from the project’s “Innovation Fund” to support approved System of Care integration strategies on a countywide or regional level.
As a result of the implementation of the SOC philosophy, youth and families are able to receive the supports they need while maintaining their connection with their home, school, or other community environments. This community—evidence—and strength-based approach helps to connect youth and families with the services that are most appropriate for them, increase the effectiveness of community supports, reduce the amount of time spent by youths in advanced care treatments and facilities, and increase rates of success after care coordination has ended. Since the effectiveness of youth and family care has been shown to greatly improve after the implementation of SOC, the costs to the greater community are also decreased, both financially and socially.