3 Key Focus Topics to Complete Systems of Care


The concept of coordinated systems of care began in 1986 as an attempt to improve care systems for children and youth facing serious mental and behavioral issues, including as they transitioned into adulthood. Today, systems of care rely on a network of community centered supports and services that work together with youth, adults, and families to better coordinate and align prevention, intervention, support, and treatment plans. Systems of care rely on the Recovery Model, where recovery from mental health issues is expected and patient-directed care is the norm. Additionally, systems of care create consistent and efficient entry points for families and children seeking assistance for mental and behavioral challenges.

A key focus of systems of care is the development of a unified network that works to improve physical, emotional, mental, cultural, and socio-economic needs to address three core values:

  1. Family driven and youth guided
  2. Community-based
  3. Culturally and linguistically competent

Family Driven and Youth Guided

Systems of care are designed to keep individuals dealing with serious emotional issues in their home, their school, and their own communities. Patient-driven care has been shown to be more effective in achieving positive health outcomes, and systems of care enable patients to better collaborate with care providers across the entire spectrum of support. Additionally, patients are included in decision making to better build on strengths and focus on opportunities in each individual circumstance. Involving family support creates an environment for long-term informal assistance within the family unit and improves health outcomes for all involved. Family-based patient-driven care is key to ensuring that care is provided in the least restrictive and most normative environments. As such, providing for collaboration across the entire support network remains a critical component to any system of care program.

Community Based

Systems of care focus on providing local support within an individual’s own community. Not only does this assist with ease of access, but it also provides for socio-economic support and familiarity with local Social Determinants of Health. Cross-system collaboration enables patients to seek and receive care from both traditional as well as non-traditional local services. Providers who regularly communicate and share information and data across the entire system of care network are more likely to provide appropriate care at the individual level and help facilitate the transition to adulthood for child patients, especially in cases when future adult services may be required. Community-based care enables continued care as patients develop and move through their lives.

Culturally and Linguistically Competent

Systems of care seek to link providers, programs, and other services that best reflect the cultural, racial, social, and linguistic profiles of the individuals they are supporting. Developing a flexible community of support structures that can meet a range of needs is a critical task for any system of care. Incorporating adequate data-sharing technologies and methodologies enables systems to track, monitor, and manage outcomes while maintaining a high standard of accountability, quality, and effectiveness for all involved.


Systems of care focus on the holistic health of individuals from childhood into adulthood and provide important support for high-risk individuals struggling with mental and behavioral issues. Because the system relies on a coordinated network of support across providers, programs, and services, a system of care program requires strong data gathering, sharing, and collaboration. To learn more about how we support coordinated systems of care, check out our new video: Coordinated Systems of Care.

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