For more than 20 years, stakeholders across the country have worked to reform children’s mental health services by creating community-based systems of care. “System of care” is an organizational philosophy that involves collaboration across agencies, families, and youth for the purpose of improving access and expanding the array of coordinated community-based services and supports for children with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and their families. Research has demonstrated that systems of care have a positive effect on the structure, organization, and availability of services for children with SED; however, the field of children’s mental health has much to learn about how local systems of care actually develop, the conditions that support or impede their implementation, and what factors interact together to establish well-functioning systems. As one of six interrelated studies from the Research and Training Center for Children's Mental Health's research program from 2004-2009, the purpose of RTC Study 2: Case Studies of System Implementation was to identify strategies that local communities undertake in implementing community-based systems of care and provide greater understanding of how factors affecting system implementation contribute to the development of local systems of care for children with serious emotional disturbance and their families.Findings are still being analyzed and disseminated. To date, study findings are summarized in issue briefs, site-based reports and peer-reviewed publications.
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