National Evaluation of Systems of Care

Administered by the Child and Family Branch of CMHS in the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program was launched in 1993 and is the largest child mental health services initiative ever funded. Grants have been awarded to 121 communities to support the development of local systems of care for children with serious emotional disturbance.

This evaluation is the most comprehensive study to date of a children's mental health service delivery program and a community-based approach to system development that addresses highly prevalent mental health problems. The evaluation will describe who is served by CMHS-funded systems of care; show whether there are observable differences in child and family outcomes that can be plausibly linked to a faithful implementation of the system of care approach; describe how children and families experience the service system and how they use services and supports (i.e., utilization patterns); estimate the cost of serving children in systems of care; illustrate the development of systems of care as they move toward offering integrated and comprehensive services; assess the effectiveness of the system of care approach as compared to usual service delivery approaches; and support technical assistance activities to help CMHS best meet program goals.

What Is the National Evaluation?

The national evaluation provides information about your local community’s program achievements, child and family outcomes, and mental health service needs. It is an important part of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program (Child Mental Health Initiative), which is the largest federally funded child mental health services initiative. Since 1993, over $1.16 billion has supported systems of care in 126 grant communities. The number of funded grant communities continues to increase.

Why Is the National Evaluation Important?

By collaborating with communities, the national evaluation promotes sound evaluation practices and collects reliable and valid information about program processes and results.

Who Makes the National Evaluation a Success?

Sarasota helps to make the national evaluation a success. The national evaluation is made possible by the involvement of children and families, Sarasota's evaluation team, and the National Evaluation Team. Everyone dedicated to the development of systems of care shares a common goal: a vision of hope and equality, and “A Life in the Community for Everyone.”

Who Collaborates to Make the National Evaluation Successful?

Sarasota has worked hard to develop plans for data collection and reporting. This work is supported through the collaboration of system of care partners. The family and children voice is vital and central to all aspects of the system of care, service delivery, and evaluation.

What Questions Does the National Evaluation Answer?

  • Who are the children and families we serve?
  • What services do children and families receive? What do they cost?
  • How much do outcomes improve for children and families over time?
  • How do systems of care develop over time?
  • How do children and families evaluate their experience with systems of care?
  • What factors help to sustain the system of care after federal funding ends?

What Have We Learned From the National Evaluation?

  • 90% of children remained stable or had reductions in behavioral and emotional needs after 6 months in systems of care.
  • 75% of children’s school performance increased or remained the same.
  • 36% of children/youth decreased selfharmful or suicide-related behavior within 6 months after entering services in system of care.
  • 24% of caregivers who were unemployed because of their child’s or youth’s behavioral and emotional needs became employed within 6 months after their child entered system of care services.
  • $366.58 per child/youth was saved because of decreases in the average number of arrests per child/youth.

Where Are the Data Reported?

National evaluation findings are available in several publications, including an annual report to Congress, EvalBriefs, Evaluation Updates, and Data Profi le Reports.

Sarasota also produces monthly evaluation reports. If you would like copies of these local and national publications, please contact our evaluation team.

Who Participates in the National Evaluation?

Sarasota is part of a coordinated network of community-based services and supports working to meet the challenges of children, youth, and their families. Every funded system of care community participates in the national evaluation.


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