Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Substance Abuse
Knocking Down Walls and Forming Bridges: Identifying barriers and facilitators of System of Care expansion for children, youth and young adults with serious emotional disturbances and their families
(School of Public Health (UMD) Undergraduate Student)
The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families program (CMHI) was established as a congressional response to the gaps in services for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances (SED). This program is based on the Systems of Care (SOC) framework which involves collaboration across agencies with youth and families to provide effective, community-based, culturally and linguistically appropriate services and supports for children, youth, and young adults with or at risk for behavioral health challenges and their families (Stroul, Blau, and Friedman, 2010). As the program expands, it is important to assess the types of services, supports and systems needed for SOC to be successfully brought to scale nationwide. Using data from the National SOC Evaluation, the purpose of this study is to identify different barriers and facilitators to the widespread implementation and expansion of SOC.Two-hour stakeholder interviews were conducted with grantees who received awards in 2013 as part of the Cooperative Agreements for Planning and Implementation of CMHI. The purpose of these interviews was to develop a description of grantee implementation and expansion efforts. The respondents included project directors, representatives from family organizations, and representatives from youth organizations. Data sources included interview notes and audio files. Qualitative analysis software was used to organize the data from the stakeholder interviews. Responses were compared by type of respondent and across grantees. Barriers and facilitators to implementation and expansion of SOC were identified. Themes emerged related to cross-agency collaboration, organizational leadership, youth and family engagement, and funding. The results from this study will provide a framework to further develop policies, generate infrastructure that provide services according to SOC principles, close service gaps across state and local levels, provide guidance to future programs and ensure access to children and youth with mental health care needs and their families.