Supporting Parents with Mental Health Needs in Systems of Care: A Child Welfare Issue Brief

Supporting Parents with Mental Health Needs in Systems of Care outlines methods for assisting parents with mental illness, who also have children who receive treatment or services from mental health or child welfare programs. In the mental health sector, Systems of Care (SOC) is a term that refers to the network of organizations and professionals—clinics, government agencies, social workers, therapists, etc.—that work together to serve mental health patients. The authors of this brief offer three major suggestions for System of Care (SOC) communities to effectively support parents with mental illness:

  1. Establish a clear vision of the SOC’s precise goals and strategies for serving mentally ill parents;
  2. Designate family partners as formal liaisons between professional staff and families; and
  3. Develop a culture of collaboration across government agencies, systems, healthcare providers, and families.

Supporting Parents with Mental Health Needs in Systems of Care was completed on behalf of the Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership)—a joint venture of AIR and the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health that provides training, technical assistance and cutting-edge research that enable System of Care (SOC) communities to offer the most effective services to their patients. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services supported the work of the brief through an interagency agreement between two of its programs—the Children’s Bureau (located within the Administration for Children, Youth and Families) and the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch of the Center for Mental Health Services (located within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).