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The Importance of Creating Systems of Care in Our Communities

My son is schizophrenic. The ‘reforms’ that I worked for have worsened his life.

While this rich Washington Post article focuses on a young man and his family’s struggle with emerging schizophrenia particularly, the lessons learned apply to all kids with social, emotional or behavioral difficulties. This quote caught our eye especially:

“we didn’t realize how important it would be to create collaborations among educators, primary-care clinicians, mental-health professionals, social-services providers, even members of the criminal justice system, to give people … a reasonable chance of living successfully in the community.”

We couldn’t agree more. Our experience, however, is that all these types of systems would love to collaborate if they could and often actually share the same goals. But true collaboration is impossible if agencies are speaking different languages flowing from different philosophies that lead to different approaches that often work across purposes. There is good news though. Systems of care work shows that entire communities of practice can come together to achieve better outcomes for these kids if they adopt a common philosophy, language and approach – which is where CPS comes in. CPS is one of the very few approaches that can supply that common platform and has demonstrated positive outcomes across all these types of settings. This is exactly what’s happening in Oregon and Ottawa right now and what we are hoping to get off the ground in New York City as we speak. Of course it’s impossible to know whether such a coordinated approach might have prevented the developmental trajectory that led to schizophrenia and homelessness for this young man, but we won’t know until we try.

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