From Addressing Barriers to Learning,
Vol. 2 (4), Fall 1997

Lessons Learned

Systems of Care,
Systems of Early Intervention,
Systems of Prevention

There is a great deal to learn from efforts to establish Systems of Care. Systems of Care is the concept used to guide establishment of comprehensive and coordinated services for emotionally disturbed individuals. Despite the controversy generated by data from the Ft. Bragg study of Systems of Care, the concept nicely underscores the realization that multiple programs are necessary to address certain problems and that it is essential to weave these programs together into a cohesive intervention system.

In broadening the focus to the many efforts to address barriers to and enhance healthy development and learning, Systems of Care represent one end of a continuum. Viewed through the lens of addressing barriers to learning, an essential range of interventions encompasses a comprehensive, integrated continuum of community and school programs for localities. The framework for such a continuum emerges from analyses of social, economic, political, and cultural factors associated with the problems of youth and from reviews of promising practices. It encompasses a holistic and developmental emphasis. Such an approach requires a significant range of programs focused on individuals, families, and the contexts in which they live, work, and play. Such a continuum ranges from primary prevention and early-age intervention, through approaches for treating problems soon after onset, to treatment for severe and chronic problems.

Ultimately, all this must be viewed from a societal perspective and must include programs designed to

Implied is the importance of using the least restrictive and nonintrusive forms of intervention required to address problems and accommodate diversity. With respect to concerns about integrating activity, the continuum of community and school interventions underscores that interprogram connections are essential on a daily basis and over time. That is, the continuum must include systems of prevention, systems of early intervention to address problems as soon after onset as feasible, and systems of care for those with chronic and severe problems. And each of these systems must be connected seamlessly (see Figure below).

Interconnected systems for meeting the needs of all students.



Systemic collaboration is essential to establish interprogram connections on a daily basis and over time to ensure seamless intervention within each system and among systems of prevention, systems of early intervention, and systems of care.

(Such collaboration involves holizontal and vertical restructuring of programs and services
(a)between jurisdictions, school and community agencies, public and private sectors; among schools; among community agencies;
(b)with jurisdictions, school districts, and community agencies (e.g., among departments, divisions, units, schools, clusters or schools)

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