Portland, Oregon Makes the Case for Case Management of Adolescents' Health Needs

Child health initiative for Cumberland County adolescents

Like many US cities, Portland had become a magnet for troubled youth, and had no good answer for how to deal with them. Typically, adolescents with severe behavioral problems were sent to psychiatric hospitals or placed in foster care. This did little to address the many root problems that had gotten the young people into trouble—mental illness, behavioral disturbances, drugs and alcohol, or homelessness.

The Case Management for Youth (CMY) project was designed to address these problems by providing alternatives for those youth with pressing health and social service needs. The program aims to simplify access to services and, ultimately, to connect the youth with local resources to ensure a stable living arrangement and enhance their ability to function in the community.

Who is served?

CMY works with adolescents ages 11 to 17 who have mental health problems. These are high-risk youth who otherwise would "fall between the cracks" of the health and social service system. Their mental health needs limit their functioning and quality of life at home, at school, and in the community.

Case Management for Youth's outreach has pulled kids into the formal service system who otherwise would have drifted from shelter to shelter or wandered the streets homeless until they ended up in the state's corrections system or a residential in-patient facility."—Tanya Busch, Executive Director, Case Management for Youth