History of The PA Care Partnership

“A System of Care approach provides an organizational framework and philosophy that result in a spectrum of effective, community-based services and supports for youth with complex behavioral health challenges, multi-system involvement, and their families. These services and supports are organized into a coordinated network, build meaningful partnerships with families and youth, and address their cultural and linguistic needs in order to help them function better at home, in school, in the community and throughout life (Stroul, B., 2011)." Systems of Care have been proven effective for youth with complex behavioral health challenges, multi-system involvement, and their families.

  • Youth experience improved outcomes in mental health symptoms and school performance, reduced involvement in child welfare and juvenile justice, and positive family functioning
  • And there are cost savings – with real, long-term benefit as youth and families become more self-reliant

Working at the state, county, and individual levels in Pennsylvania, the PA Care Partnership brings youth, families, systems, and supports together to find effective and efficient strategies that improve outcomes for youth and their families. In particular, we focus on the needs of birth to 21 year-olds and their families, who have complex behavioral health challenges along with involvement in the juvenile justice and/or child welfare system(s) and who are in, or at risk of, out-of-home placement. 

Beginning October 1, 2017, the Pennsylvania Care Partnership has built on the previous System of Care work, and other SAMHSA Grants, to support counties in developing comprehensive Systems of Care for children, youth, and families.

A Learning and Support Collaborative will support expansion and sustainability in a number of counties as well as in the array of services and supports, including a focus on trauma and early onset of serious illness. In the first year, this approach was applied in two counties, Crawford and York. The experience of these counties will serve as the basis for guiding other counties in Years 2-4 in a sequential and continuous expansion of Systems of Care in Pennsylvania.

The State also has incorporated the work of other federal grants including Safe Schools/Healthy Students, Project LAUNCH (early childhood)Healthy Transitions (for transition age youth), and Youth Suicide Prevention.

This work was previously funded through a cooperative agreement between the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. With $9,000,000 in federal funds from October 2009 through September 2015 and with $9,000,000 of in-kind match, Pennsylvania is supporting the formation of System of Care County Leadership Teams to implement the PA Care Partnership standards within at least 15 counties. These county teams consist of youth leaders and family leaders in equal numbers with system leaders. Their purpose is to engage in an equal partnership to transform the way individual child-serving systems integrate their efforts to help youth be successful in their homes, schools, and communities.

PA Care Partnership's Goal

The PA Care Partnership has a goal to bring together and empower youth, family, caregivers, child-serving systems, and provider partners based on concepts that are sensible, practical, inclusive, cost-effective, and sustainable. 

What is a System of Care?

One of the most significant philosophical changes is the equal inclusion of youth and families into the decision-making process as trusted partners with child-serving systems. A system of care is not a process or project, but a philosophical change in the way government works. To drive this work, the State Leadership and Management Team (SLMT) and each County Leadership Team (CLT), have the dynamic energy for decision making, and they are also responsible and accountable for the outcomes that lead to the fulfillment of hopes and dreams of youth and family.

A driving force in this philosophy is the utilization of a youth and family services and supports planning process, where youth and family supports are embedded in teams to ensure youth and family voices are expressed and natural supports are identified and engaged. The system of care philosophy and practices are unique based on the function, structure, and culture of each state and county.

System of Care Values

  • Youth Driven
  • Family Driven
  • Home and Community Based
  • Strength-Based and Individualized
  • Trauma-Informed
  • Culturally and Linguistically Competent
  • Connected to Natural and Helping Networks
  • Data Driven, Quality and Outcomes Oriented
  • County Leadership and Governance Boards
  • Multi-System Integration
  • Youth and Family Services and Supports Planning Process

Assuring cultural and linguistic competence

Youth Driven

Family Driven

Valuing natural and community supports

Evaluation and continuous quality improvement

Youth and Family Services and Supports Planning Process