Guiding Principles of Systems of Care: Community-Based Services
What does community-based services mean?
A system of care builds not only on the strengths of the child and family, but also on the strengths of the community where that family lives. Providing community-based services means having high quality services accessible to families in the least restrictive setting possible. A community-based system of care requires systems to see the home, school, and neighborhood of the family from an asset perspective, and to identify the natural supports in these familiar surroundings as part of a strengths-based approach.
Why are community-based services important?
- Keeping children in their homes, neighborhood schools, and local communities has a positive effect on child and family well-being. Moving, in many cases, generates unnecessary stress for an already traumatized child.
- By remaining in the community, the child is able to retain critical bonds with friends, family, and school personnel.
- When services are community-based, the work done with the child and family is in the context of where the child lives.
- The community (faith-based organizations, nonprofit agencies, neighbors, and other institutions) can offer additional positive, informal supports to the child and family.
Questions to ask about systems of care and community-based services:
- Is a broad array of evidence-based and promising practices, informal services, and supports available to meet the needs of children and families in the community?
- Are services available to families in their primary language and at times and locations convenient to them?
- Is in-home support offered to families?
- Are flexible funds available to meet the unique needs of each child and family?
- Are all child-serving systems invited to the table and working together on behalf of children and families?
- Are caseworkers and staff from collaborating agencies trained in maximizing informal supports for children and families?
- Do child welfare caseworkers and other staff interact with children and families in culturally and linguistically competent ways?
- Are caseworkers and other staff culturally sensitive to the place and type of services made available to the child and family?
- Is the family routinely seen as one of the child's major resources?
Community-based Resources: Keystone to the System of Care
National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care (2009)
Examines the elements of a successful community-based approach to serving children and families involved with the child welfare system.
Community Partnerships Offer a Means for Changing Frontline Child Welfare Practice (PDF - 391 KB)
Center for the Study of Social Policy
Safekeeping, Spring 2005
Key "nuts and bolts" infrastructure elements necessary for child welfare agencies to move a community partnership vision effectively from theory to practice.