System of Care (SOC) is a nationally-recognized framework for organizing and coordinating services and resources into a comprehensive and interconnected network. Its goal is to work in partnership with individuals and families who need services or resources from multiple human service agencies in order to be safe and successful at home, school, and in the community, and through this assistance, make the community a better place to live.
SOC builds on individual and community strengths and makes the most of existing resources to help children and their families achieve better outcomes.
System of Care Values:
- Interagency collaboration
- Individualized strengths-based care
- Cultural competence
- Accountability to results
- Child and family partnership
- Community-based services and supports
North Carolina began implementing a SOC grant from the Children’s Bureau in 2003. The System of Care grant gives NC the opportunity to demonstrate that Systems of Care principles, traditionally seen in the mental health system, can be successfully applied to a child welfare setting. This approach helps address issues such as a limited array of services, inconsistent partnering with families served, lack of coordination and collaboration between service providers, and failure to engage community supports.
Counties participating are Mecklenburg, Alamance and Bladen. The system of care approach further enhances the Multiple Response System reform process already begun. The grant focuses on strategic planning and interagency infrastructure development as a means to change policies, systems, agencies, and direct service delivery practices. It allocates resources that allow recipients the time and funds needed to design a system of care that will benefit children, youth, and families involved with child welfare and its partner agencies.
At the state level: The State Collaborative for Children and Families is a multidisciplinary group where decision makers from agencies and community partners, along with family members can come to work collaboratively to better meet the needs of children and families. It includes representatives from state and local agencies, community partners, private providers, families and advocates. The State Collaborative develops recommendations to promote the coordination of services, funding, training, and local reporting requirements to eliminate duplication and make the system more child and family friendly. In addition, it provides support for Community Collaborative groups and Child and Family Teams.
At the county level: On a local level you can find multiple problem-solving groups that work together with families to achieve safety, permanence and well-being for children. Some examples of these groups are Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils (JCPC), Community Child Protection Teams (CCPT), local Community Collaboratives, and Local Child and Family Team Advisory Committees.
At the family level: On an individual/family level you can find SOC in practice through Child and Family Teams. A group of persons (professionals, family members, friends and community supports) selected by the family to assist them in developing a plan to address the significant issues in their family. This group can be called together as needed, by the family or anyone involved with the family.
As a result of the project, the three counties will build an infrastructure to support families, to work collaboratively with community organizations, to engage families in planning for supports for their own families, and in participating as partners in community collaborative groups. Findings from the project will be used in the development of statewide services.