PA Awarded Major Federal Grant to Improve Mental Health Services for Children


Pennsylvania has been awarded a federal grant to develop an integrated Systems of Care approach to serve children and youth ages 8-18 and their families. The grant will work to improve services to children with mental health needs who are involved with child welfare or juvenile justice, and are in or at risk of out-of-home placement. Through this grant, Pennsylvania becomes part of the national movement to utilize organized multi-level systems to more effectively serve youth with serious behavioral health challenges and their families.

The $9 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) covers six years and will be implemented in 15 Pennsylvania counties. Partner counties will be selected via a competitive application process based on their readiness to implement reform.

The grant implementation process will be named the Pennsylvania System of Care Partnership. A State Leadership Team comprised equally of youth and family representatives and top officials from Mental Health, Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, and the Governor’s Commission on Youth and Families, will be responsible for the Pennsylvania System of Care Partnership. Comparable youth, family, and professional governance structures will also be established in the Partner Counties.

The Youth and Family Training Institute, a division of the University of Pittsburgh and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC, will support, monitor, and evaluate the System of Care development in the counties. Fifteen counties, identified during the planning year on the basis of need, commitment, and readiness, will establish the infrastructure to build systems that work together with the youth and family, integrate professional services, and utilize the natural supports that exist in families and communities throughout Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania System of Care Partnership will transform the current categorical and fragmented service delivery approach into a comprehensive, community-oriented delivery system.

The System of Care Partnership will build on and enhance cross system efforts that have been underway for several years to integrate and more effectively provide services to youth. Each participating county will utilize the practice model defined by the National Wraparound Initiative to serve at least 50 youth annually, with over 1,000 youth and families to be served during the course of the SAMHSA grant. The ultimate vision is that Pennsylvania will eventually expand the structured approach of System of Care development to all Pennsylvania counties.