Improving care. Changing lives.

Child Mental Health Forum

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm

"Systems of Care for Seriously Emotionally Disturbed Children and Their Families: Their Promise and Their Challenges"

- John Sargent, MD

Professor, Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine
Director, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Tufts Medical Center

Children and adolescents with serious emotional and behavioral problems often experience significant adversity and live amid multiple risk factors. Poverty, fluctuating family membership, domestic violence, parental mental illness, substance abuse and/or intellectual disability often coexist with childhood emotional disturbance and complicate treatment. These children also possess a range of intrinsic differences including problems with emotion regulation, activity and concentration regulation, cognitive differences and trauma related toxic stress. These challenges make parenting more difficult, exacerbating family stress. In addition these children and families are often involved with a confusing array of professionals and agencies each with specific mandates and narrow agendas. Families are confused and disempowered, often distrustful. The Systems of Care (SOC) approach to the treatment of these children and families was developed and funded by the federal government through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SOC projects have been developed in over 100 communities in the U.S., including Massachusetts and became the model for the Rosie D court ruling in Massachusetts. This led to the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative with services available for Mass Health insured children with serious emotional disturbance in our state. This presentation will review the values and organization of SOC services, the providers involved and their roles and the ways in which SOC services can be helpful. Challenges in this collaboration will be discussed and a review of the research on SOC effectiveness will be presented.

Target Audience:  Physicians (psychiatrists, pediatricians, child neurologists), psychologists, social workers, other mental health clinicians and researchers, and students and trainees.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Participants will learn the elements of and operations of systems of care
  2. Participants will learn strategies to address challenges of systems of care approach