When the Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) began
in Pennsylvania more than 20 years ago, funding was provided for
each county to hire a CASSP coordinator to help develop an infrastructure
for an effective children’s mental health system at the county
level. Over time, the roles of CASSP and Children’s Mental
Health Coordinators have evolved, and many of them serve a variety
of functions in their counties. In general, however, the individuals
in the following list understand how the children’s behavioral
health system works in their counties and can serve as a resource
to family members, providers and others who need assistance with
CASSP (Child and Adolescent Service System Program) is based on
a well-defined set of principles for mental health services for
children and adolescents with or at risk of developing severe emotional
disorders and their families. These principles are summarized in
six core statements.
Child-centered: Services are planned to meet the
individual needs of the child, rather than to fit the child into
an existing service. Services consider the child's family and community
contexts, are developmentally appropriate and child-specific, and
build on the strengths of the child and family to meet the mental
health, social and physical needs of the child.
Family-focused: The family is the primary support
system for the child and it is important to help empower the family
to advocate for themselves. The family participates as a full partner
in all stages of the decision-making and treatment planning process
including implementation, monitoring and evaluation. A family may
include biological, adoptive and foster parents, siblings, grandparents,
other relatives, and other adults who are committed to the child.
The development of mental health policy at state and local levels
includes family representation.
Community-based: Whenever possible, services are
delivered in the child's home community, drawing on formal and informal
resources to promote the child's successful participation in the
community. Community resources include not only mental health professionals
and provider agencies, but also social, religious, cultural organizations
and other natural community support networks.
Multi-system: Services are planned in collaboration
with all the child-serving systems involved in the child's life.
Representatives from all these systems and the family collaborate
to define the goals for the child, develop a service plan, develop
the necessary resources to implement the plan, provide appropriate
support to the child and family, and evaluate progress.
Culturally competent: Culture determines our worldview
and provides a general design for living and patterns for interpreting
reality that are reflected in our behavior. Therefore, services
that are culturally competent are provided by individuals who have
the skills to recognize and respect the behavior, ideas, attitudes,
values, beliefs, customs, language, rituals, ceremonies and practices
characteristic of a particular group of people.
Least restrictive/least intrusive: Services take
place in settings that are the most appropriate and natural for
the child and family and are the least restrictive and intrusive
available to meet the needs of the child and family.