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System of Care

Child Welfare | Juvenile Justice | Mental Health | Primary Care | School | System of Care

A parent said it best:


"We want our children to be able to live at home, to go to school, and get good grades, to enjoy friends and activities in the community, and become responsible adults living independently." 
Trina Osher 1998


The fact is, no one service provider can make this happen working independently. Nor can this come about if everyone involved doesn't take the "whole child" into consideration. That's why FAS is committed to helping local service providers and families build a "system of care" in their community. A system of care, which is responsive to the needs of the youths, families, and community, provides a coordinated approach that:

  • ensures children and youths receive services based on needs identified by an objective measurement of day-to-day functioning
  • tracks outcomes for each youth to determine effectiveness of services
  • uses aggregate results to improve services at every level.

A system of care requires working across agencies in an organized, purposeful, and intentional manner to address all aspects of the child's life. The FAS assessments facilitate this collaboration by providing a common language and data to determine the youth's needs across all areas of functioning upon entry into services, guide treatment/service planning, track progress over time, and engage caregivers in the process.

Delivering the right services in a timely manner, in coordination with other needed services

To illustrate, our JIFF Interviewer®, which was designed to be used by front line staff in various child-serving agencies, gathers information from the youth and/or caregiver to generate goals that, if addressed, could greatly improve the child’s well-being.  For example, one goal that the JIFF software generates is "Eliminate Alcohol Use." In most communities, many agencies provide support services to address this situation. They can include youth & adolescent justice, the schools, mental health agencies, substance use services, health services, and community programs.

In fact, the JIFF software gives the service provider the ability to enter community-specific resources into the program, from a customized list of services and providers. After the professional and family finishes identifying the youth's goals on the service plan, they can readily choose specific, local resource to each goal. The process of establishing the list of community resources and using them in the JIFF process is an invaluable tool in building and reinforcing a local system of care. Combined with the parent's view, obtained from the Caregiver version of the JIFF, various professionals can use the JIFF to both assess the youth's situation and engage the important stakeholders of the child's well being - all with one instrument.


Facilitating collaboration among agencies when a child needs more in-depth evaluation

We designed the FAS assessments to link and complement each other. In fact, the JIFF was derived from the Child & Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale® ~ CAFAS®, which is widely used by practitioners who conduct comprehensive assessments of a youth’s day to day functioning. The JIFF alerts front line staff to potential mental health issues, at the child’s first contact with the agency. Information gathered with the JIFF pinpoints concerns, and, as a result, greatly facilitates referral for more in-depth evaluation or for mental health services. A CAFAS evaluation can be conducted within the same agency or by another agency that can readily offer mental health services if needed.

Inviting parents to be an active part of the solution

In addition, both the JIFF and the CAFAS recognize the importance of the youth’s parents in the child’s life. The Caregiver Wish List® ~ CWL®, engages parents in “self-discovering” their parenting strengths and growth opportunities. Agencies that work with parents to help them develop better strategies for managing their child’s challenging behavior find the CWL to be an invaluable tool. It focuses on strengths and skill building and lets the parent lead the way.

Another way FAS supports communities that take a system of care approach is through its software system. Once two or more agencies decide to collaborate, the FAS system can support a virtual "system of care" with customized access parameters. It greatly enhances the ability for a community to offer truly integrated services where agencies work together in serving the same youths, while guarding the privacy of each child. The virtual "system of care" also allows for tracking evidenced-based and promising practices, some of which may be offered in partnership. The FAS system makes it easy to aggregate client-level outcome data to determine if an integrated approach results in better outcomes. Such evidence can be critical to sustainability.

In addition, the system provides all parties in the system of care with a common, neutral language and common outcome measurement. Both are critical to helping service providers, individually and collectively, make data-driven decisions about necessary changes to individual programs and the system of care as a whole. This ability to drive continuous improvement efforts in a collaborative manner brings us that much closer to our achieving our ultimate goal.


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