PA System of Care Partnership

“A System of Care approach provides an organizational framework and philosophy that result in a spectrum of effective, community-based services and supports for youth with complex behavioral health challenges, multi-system involvement and their families.   These services and supports are organized into a coordinated network, build meaningful partnerships with families and youth, and address their cultural and linguistic needs in order to help them function better at home, in school, in the community and throughout life (Stroul, B., 2011)." Systems of Care have been proven effective for youth with complex behavioral health challenges, multi-system involvement and their families.

  • Youth experience improved outcomes in mental health symptoms and school performance, reduced involvement in child welfare and juvenile justice, and positive family functioning
  • And there are cost savings – with real, long term benefit as youth and families become more self-reliant

Working at the state, county, and individual levels in Pennsylvania, the PA System of Care Partnership brings youth, families, systems and supports together to find effective and efficient strategies that improve outcomes for youth and their families. In particular, we are focusing on the needs of 8 – 18 year-olds and their families, who have complex behavioral health challenges along with involvement in the juvenile justice and/or child welfare system(s) and who are in, or at risk of out-of-home placement. 

Beginning October 1, 2017 the Pennsylvania System of Care Partnership will build on the work of previous System of Care, and other SAMHSA Grants, to support counties in developing comprehensive Systems of Care for children, youth, and families.

A Learning and Support Collaborative will support expansion, and sustainability, in the number of counties as well as in the array of services and supports, including a focus on trauma and early onset of serious illness.
In the first year, this approach will be applied in two counties, Crawford and York.

The experience of these counties will serve as the basis for guiding other counties in Years 2-4 in a sequential and continuous expansion of Systems of Care in Pennsylvania.

 The intention will be to bring two new counties on in year one, and six months after the start of the grant.

The target population of the Expansion and Sustainability Cooperative Agreement will be expanded from the pervious grant to Birth - 21 years of age who are youthwith serious emtional disturbances, and their families.
The State will also incorporate the work of other federal grants including Safe Schools/Healthy Students, Project LAUNCH (early childhood)Healthy Transitions (for transition age youth), and Youth Suicide Prevention.

This work was previously funded through a cooperative agreement between the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. With $9,000,000 in federal funds from October 2009 through September 2015, and $9,000,000 worth of in-kind match, PA is supporting the formation of System of Care County Leadership Teams to implement the PA System of Care Partnership standards within at least 15 counties. These county teams consist of youth leaders and family leaders in equal numbers with system leaders. Their purpose is to engage in equal partnership to transform the way individual child-serving systems integrate their efforts to help youth be successful in their homes, schools and communities.

What is System of Care

  • One of the most significant philosophical changes is the equal inclusion of youth and families into the decision making process as trusted partners with child-serving systems.
  • System of Care is not a process or project, but philosophical change in the way government works.
  • The PA System of Care Partnership (PA SOC Partnership) is a way of bringing together and empowering youth, family, child-serving systems, and providers based on concepts that are sensible, practical, inclusive, cost-effective and sustainable, to integrate the child-serving systems.
  • The State Leadership and Management Team (SLMT) and each County Leadership Team (CLT), have the dynamic energy for decision making.  They are also responsible and accountable for the outcomes that lead to the fulfillment of hopes and dreams of youth and family.
  • A driving force in this philosophy is the utilization of a youth and family services and supports planning process, where youth and family supports are embedded in teams to ensure youth and family voices are expressed and natural supports are identified and engaged.
  • System of Care philosophy and practices are unique based on the function, structure, and culture of each state and county.

SOC Standards

Youth Driven
Family Driven
Integration of Child-Serving Systems
Valuing Natural and Community Supports
County Leadership Team
Assuring Cultural and Linguistic Competence
Youth and Family Services and Supports Planning Process
Evaluation and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI)