The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), seeks to continue to build, expand, and integrate its System of Care (SOC) approach by creating sustainable infrastructure and services to improve the mental health outcomes for children and youth under the age of 21 with or at risk of serious emotional disturbances (SED) and multi-system involvement.
Pennsylvania (PA) is a large and diverse state in which human services are the county agencies' responsibility. The state sets policy and provides funding while the county manages behavioral health, child welfare, and juvenile justice services at the local level. The Pennsylvania Care Partnership (the Partnership), which oversees the day-today-System of Care activities statewide, will continue to build on the progress made through previous Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) SOC grants at the state and county level. Currently, 44 of PA's 67 counties have developed or are developing and implementing the SOC approach. The Partnership will use the System of Care Expansion and Sustainability grant to add four new counties and continue moving its SOC approach towards wide-scale adoption.
The four counties were selected through a competitive process that included youth and family input. Criteria for the selection included geographic location, need, and interest. The new partner counties are Blair, Delaware, Greene, and Lackawanna. These counties have extensive experience working with youth with complex mental health issues, and families. The selected counties have experience developing and implementing other system change efforts and are willing to collaborate across systems, and pilot new service delivery models. Each county has proposed 1-3 possible evidence-based/enhancements to their current county service array and will work with the Partnership to develop and implement these new delivery models. The potential models include the expansion of High Fidelity Wraparound, peer-driven case management, enhanced services for transition-age youth, and enhanced supportive living programming. Combined, these four counties will enroll and serve 65 children and youth in year one, 85 in year two, 85 in year three, and 65 in year four for a total of 300 children and youth.
At the state level, the leadership updated their SOC strategic plan and identified several infrastructure challenges, including the ongoing need to align the child-serving systems; family and youth engagement during the pandemic; ongoing challenges to provide culturally and linguistic competent services and supports; and strengthening the roles and responsibilities of the state and county SOC leadership teams. The overall vision for the four years of this grant and beyond is that every youth and family in the Commonwealth will be able to access and navigate a unified network of effective services and supports, which are family and youth-driven, community-based, culturally and linguistically competent, and meets their individual needs.