What is a System of Care (SOC) ?

A System of Care (SOC) is: A spectrum of effective, community-based services and supports for children and youth with or at risk for mental health or other challenges and their families, that is organized into a coordinated network, builds meaningful partnerships with families and youth, and addresses their cultural and linguistic needs, in order to help them to function better at home, in school, in the community, and throughout life.

Source: SOC Definition

High Fidelity Wraparound (HFW) is a team-based planning process that develops individualized plans to meet the needs of at-risk youth and families. The principles of HFW mirror the values of SOC. While HFW occurs at the child and family level, investment in HFW promotes a child-serving system that is family-driven and youth guided, accessible, accountable and collaborative.

  1. Family driven and youth guided, with the strengths and needs of the child and family determining the types and mix of services and supports provided
  2. Community based, with the locus of services, as well as system management, resting within a supportive, adaptive infrastructure of structures, processes, and relationships at the community level
  3. Culturally and linguistically competent, with agencies, programs, and services that reflect the cultural, racial, ethnic, and linguistic differences of the populations they serve to facilitate access to and utilization of appropriate services and supports

Source: SOC Core Values

  1. Ensure availability of and access to a broad, flexible array of effective, evidence-informed, community-based services and supports for children and their families that addresses their physical, emotional, social, and educational needs, including traditional and nontraditional services as well as informal and natural supports
  2. Provide individualized services in accordance with the unique potential and needs of each child and family, guided by a strengths-based, wraparound service planning process and an individualized service plan developed in true partnership with the child and family
  3. Deliver services and supports within the least restrictive, most normative environments that are clinically appropriate
  4. Ensure that families, other caregivers, and youth are full partners in all aspects of the planning and delivery of their own services and in the policies and procedures that govern care for all children and youth in their communities, states, territories, tribes, and nation
  5. Ensure cross-system collaboration, with linkages between child-serving agencies and programs across administrative and funding boundaries and mechanisms for system-level management, coordination, and integrated care management
  6. Provide care management or similar mechanisms to ensure that multiple services are delivered in a coordinated and therapeutic manner, and that children and their families can move through the system of services in accordance with their changing needs
  7. Provide developmentally appropriate mental health services and supports that promote optimal social and emotional outcomes for young children and their families in their homes and community settings
  8. Provide developmentally appropriate services and supports to facilitate the transition of youth to adulthood and to the adult-service system as needed
  9. Incorporate or link with mental health promotion, prevention, and early identification and intervention to improve long-term outcomes, including mechanisms to identify problems at an earlier stage and mental health promotion and prevention activities directed at all children and adolescents
  10. Incorporate continuous accountability mechanisms to track, monitor, and manage the achievement of system of care goals; fidelity to the system of care philosophy; and quality, effectiveness, and outcomes at the system level, practice level, and child and family level
  11. Protect the rights of children, youth, and families and promote effective advocacy efforts
  12. Provide services and supports without regard to race, religion, national origin, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, physical disability, socioeconomic status, geography, language, immigration status, or other characteristics; services should be sensitive and responsive to these differences

Source: SOC Guiding Principles

Published by the Georgetown University, Return on Investment (ROI) in Systems of Care documents what is known about service cost savings, particularly through the implementation of Systems of Care and Wraparound. The report uses data from various national and state initiatives to highlight cost savings when Wraparound and other System of Care practices are used. This is a great resource for anyone seeking to learn about Systems of Care’s potential to have positive ROI compared to more traditional services such as residential treatment and case management.