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NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services

For Those We Serve

SOC Toolbox: Introduction and Overview

Children with serious emotional disturbance face challenges in many aspects of their daily lives—at home, in school, in social situations, and in the community. Given this, they need coordinated services and supports from a variety of childserving agencies and located in the child's home community. Finally, they need a delivery system that supports the family's efforts to help their child be successful in as normal an environment as possible.

Historically, the vast majority of children with serious emotional disturbance and their families had little chance to have these needs met. The mental health service system was fragmented, services were provided either in inappropriately restrictive settings or not at all, and families were not part of the assessment, planning, or treatment process. Intense advocacy from family, community, and professional groups resulted in national policy initiatives, commissions, and seminal reports addressing these problems. Two early milestones were the 1978 President's Commission on Mental Health, Task Panel on Infants, Children and Adolescents and Jane Knitzer's Unclaimed Children: The Failure of Public Responsibility to Children and Adolescents in Need of Mental Health Services, published in 1982. In response to the many calls for action, Congress appropriated funds for a new children's mental health initiative in 1984, and the landscape of services for this population began to change. <more>

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