III. Public Behavioral Health Best Practice Models
for Children and Their Families

For many years, efforts have been made at the federal, state, and private level to develop and implement best practice approaches to behavioral health services for children and their families. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Annie B. Casey Foundation have all sponsored major studies and demonstrations of integrated child serving models. Through these and many other studies, the technology of arranging and delivering integrated, comprehensive services for children with serious emotional disturbance and their families has improved substantially. Unfortunately, in almost all jurisdictions, even after many years of demonstration funding and effort, the children's' puzzle remains to be solved.

The children's puzzle remains unsolved for two primary reasons. First, services to children and their families require engagement and coordination of multiple disparate systems with differing requirements, missions, and imperatives. Second, too often children in need of behavioral health services are embedded in environments characterized by poverty, discrimination, abuse, and family instability. Both of the above issues are extremely difficult to overcome while attempting to access, integrate, and coordinate social, educational, criminal justice, and behavioral health services for children and their families.

Volume I of this final report describes the following elements of a best practice template for behavioral health services for children and their families:

  • System-wide commitment to tearing down institutional barriers to allow state and local child-serving agencies to openly and fully coordinate access to and delivery of their discrete services;
  • Methods and supports for empowering children and their families and front-line staff;
  • Systematic and coordinated approaches to access, comprehensive assessment, service planning, and outcome measurement for services;
  • Consistent implementation of Child/Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) principles and approaches on a statewide basis; and
  • In the context of CASSP principles, evidence-based clinical treatment and community service and support models are implemented and consistently improved.

Table I, provides criteria and performance measures for each of the above elements.

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