The System of Care
The Children's Mental Health system of care is a collaborative network of services and supports in each circuit that, in partnership with families, is intended to help children diagnosed with serious emotional disturbance live at home, do well in school, and successfully live in the community. The system of care is designed around values and principles that guide each circuit in fulfilling this mission.
Services are delivered both through contracts with public and private service providers and by purchasing services on an individual basis. Some services can be accessed directly, such as in the case of crisis care and certain outpatient services, and others are available through staffing processes such as Multidisciplinary Service Planning Teams and Child Specific Family Teams. Applications for residential services must be reviewed and approved by the circuit office.
The amount and types of services vary from circuit to circuit. Generally, the community mental health center is a major provider of children's mental health services, and other agencies and individuals also provide services, depending on the circuit’s service system. In any case, the circuit Children's Mental Health Specialist can advise families on the most effective way to obtain services.
Service Planning and Coordination
A key component of the Children's Mental Health system of care is the use of multi-disciplinary planning teams, often called Family Service Planning Teams. These teams are family-focused and community-based, and serve as a focus for service planning for the family. The purpose of the teams is to help the family and other caregivers needing services from more than one agency to develop and implement a workable plan for treating the child's mental health and other service needs while the child remains in the community.
Children staffed by a Multidisciplinary Planning Team or other staffing process may have a case manager assigned to take the lead in coordinating the service plan. If there is more than one program involved with the child, it should be clarified who will have the lead for the overall service plan and who will have primary responsibility for any court-related responsibilities. The service plan should clearly spell out who is responsible for each service plan goal. Any other case plans, such as the Individual Educational Plan, must also be coordinated.
For information on the availability of service planning teams in your area, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health program office in your Circuit.
Community Mental Health Services
Section 394.491, Florida Statute, outlines guiding principles for the child and adolescent mental health treatment and support system. Consistent with these principles, children and adolescents receive services within the least restrictive and most normal environment appropriate to meet their individual clinical and behavioral needs.
Each of the fourteen service areas within the state are allocated funds directed toward the provision of services and supports to assist children and adolescents with mental illnesses to live successfully within their communities. These communityThe based mental health services include, but are not limited to crisis services, including crisis stabilization, assessment services, in-home and school based therapies, outpatient group and individual services, case management, medication, respite, therapeutic foster care, infant and early childhood mental health services, and other non-traditional supports.
For information on the availability of community mental health services and supports in your area, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health program office in your Circuit.
Section 394.4781, Florida Statutes, authorizes the Department to pay for part of the costs of residential care for children diagnosed with severe emotional disturbance, who are recommended to need a residential level of mental health treatment by a Florida licensed psychologist or psychiatrist , and who are not eligible for public or private insurance. The Department has very limited state General Revenue funds to purchase residential mental health treatment for children who qualify and is required to review applications monthly to approve or disapprove each application in accordance with:
- The severity of the problems of the child
- The financial means of the family
- The availability of the needed residential care
- Available funds
Each circuit has a procedure for reviewing applications for residential mental health treatment and determining whether placement in such a setting is the least restrictive, most beneficial treatment alternative for the child. Many children, even those with severe conditions, can be more effectively served in the community with a specially designed program of "wraparound" services for the child and family.
The goal of mental health treatment is to assists the child to live successfully in their community and with their families. Therefore, the placement of a child into residential mental health treatment should be made only after careful consideration is given to less restrictive treatment alternatives. Circuits use a staffing process involving the child and parents or other caregivers and a multiagency group of professionals to consider the strengths and needs of the child and family and developed a service plan to enable the child either to remain at home or to return home from the treatment setting as soon as possible. Only if the needed services can not be provided in a less restrictive environment is placement in a residential mental health treatment program considered.
If residential treatment is approved by the circuit office, a further determination must be made as to whether funding is available to place the child. All available sources of funds are explored, including insurance (public and private) and cost-sharing with the family, the local school district, and other programs involved with the child, such as child welfare and juvenile justice.