Welfare Watch - June 4, 2009 - KidsNet, Changing the way  Georgia Provides Care for at-risk Children and their Families

Since 2004 with a grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Georgia has been reforming its system of care in child welfare and its mental health service delivery system.  The purpose of the grant is to support the transformation of the State’s children and adolescent behavioral health system by strengthening and enhancing the capacity to develop, expand and sustain behavioral health services across all child-serving agencies for children and adolescents experiencing Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED), substance abuse and/or co-occurring disorders (COD) and their families. Another grant to the State from the same federal agency was given to enhance capacity to provide effective, accessible and affordable services to youth with SED, SA and COD and their families and to keep children from higher end placements. These two grants were later combined to strengthen their work.  In 2007, the Governor's Office for Children and Families offered grants to providers to further the vision and goals of these systems of care models. 

These grants are changing the way that Georgia thinks about delivery of services to at-risk children and their families.  Georgia coined its own term for what was generally known as “System of Care.”  We call ours “KidsNet.”  KidsNet’s vision and objectives are as follows:

·         Develop a shared vision/strategic plan for the development of an integrated statewide system across child-serving agencies for the delivery of behavioral health services to children/adolescents who experience Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED), substance abuse (SA) and co-occurring disorders (COD).

·           Develop funding strategies to coordinate, improve and maximize capacity of statewide interagency child service systems.

·           Develop and expand specially trained workforce with specialty knowledge in working with children and adolescents experiencing SED, SA and COD.

·           Promote youth and family outreach and engagement in the design and implementation of the behavioral health service delivery system.

·           Develop policy and practice guidelines that eliminate barriers, promote and support behavioral health service system improvements.

·           Participate in and actively share learning with other state agencies/stakeholders and other States to leverage training, support, dissemination, intervention adoption and evaluation/research to improve the treatment system for youth and their families.

These goals can be compared to the old way of providing care by the following chart:


Old  Way : Fragmented System, Child Focused, Problem based

New Way: Collaborative System, Family Focused, Strength based



Agencies  know  best

Families  know  best

Placement  seen  as  a  solution

Placement  seen  as  a  planned  intervention

Enabling  families

Empowering  families

Meetings  held  at  the  agency’s  convenience

Meetings  held  at  the  family’s  convenience

Reduce  public  risk  by  removing  the  youth  from  the  community

Reduce  public  risk  by  supporting  the  youth  in  the  community

Children  can  grow  up  in  out -of-home care

Children  need  to  grow  up  in  families

Direction  flows  from  a  centralized  authority

Authority  rests  in  community-based  ownership

Creation  of  dependency

Creation  of  self-help  &  active  participation

Child only  focus

Whole  family  as  the  focus

Families  perceived as “problem”

Families  seen  as   partners  &  therapeutic  allies

Cultural  blindness

Cultural  competence

Highly  professionalized  process  followed

Coordination  with  informal  &  natural  supports

An  input-focused  accountability

Outcome/results-oriented  accountability

Fragmented  service  delivery

Coordinated  service delivery

Welfare Watch, an email newsletter of the
Georgia Association of Homes
and Services for Children
as a public service.
Normer Adams, Editor

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