Guiding Principles of Systems of Care: Individualized Strengths-Based Care
What does individualized strengths-based care mean?
Individualized strengths-based care acknowledges each child and family's unique set of strengths and challenges. Formal and informal supports are used to create services and supports for each child and family (rather than families "fitting in" to preexisting service structures). Issues of culture, gender, age, religious background, and class are addressed in the individualized plan of care. The plan changes frequently based on ongoing individualized assessments of strengths and needs.
Plans are created by teams comprising people who know the child and family, including neighbors; friends; family; and child welfare, mental health, education, substance abuse, and juvenile justice professionals. The team's major task is to create an individualized plan of care that is community- and strength-based, made up of formal and informal services and supports.
Why is individualized strengths-based care important?
- Each child and family has unique attributes that must be addressed if services are going to be successful.
- Individualized care fully engages the family in designing and implementing a plan of care.
- Children and families receive services that match their unique strengths and needs.
Questions to ask about systems of care and individualized strengths-based care:
- Does the individualized care team always involve the family when designing a plan of care?
- Do plans of care take into consideration the child and family's cultural and religious/spiritual background?
- Do plans of care maximize all natural supports within the family's community?
- Are all funding streams being maximized within the interagency makeup of the system of care?
- Does the system of care include a flexible fund to help create nontraditional services that are essential to the plan of care for individual children and families?
An Individualized, Strengths-Based Approach in Public Child Welfare Driven Systems of Care
National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care (2008)
Discusses the importance of establishing policies and practices that promote and facilitate an individualized, strengths-based approach when working with children and families involved with child welfare.
Implementing High-Quality Collaborative Individualized Service/Support Planning: Necessary Conditions (PDF - 6380 KB)
Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health (2003)
Proposes a conceptual framework for creating and implementing service plans that are individualized, family-driven, community- and strengths-based, and culturally competent.