Child Welfare League Finds Consensus on how Best to Integrate Systems of Care for Vulnerable Adolescents and Their Families

    • February 10, 2007

In 2003 and 2004, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), a membership organization of some 800 child welfare agencies, brought together professionals and consumers from the mental health, substance abuse, child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

They explored and developed a consensus about how to integrate those systems' services and apply best practices so that children and families affected by such problems as mental illness, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency receive better care.

Key Results

  • More than 200 practitioners, government and agency officials, researchers, advocates and family members who had experience dealing with the mental health, substance abuse, child welfare and juvenile justice systems participated in consensus deliberations.

  • In March 2006, the league published a consensus report, Integrating Systems of Care: Improving Quality of Care for the Most Vulnerable Children and Families. The report included:

    • Consensus statements from seven working groups convened to guide the deliberations.
    • 13 key ideas and strategies to integrate the systems of care.


The top three key ideas and strategies from the consensus process were:

  • Improve care and promote health. The goals of integrating systems of care should be to improve the quality of care for vulnerable children and families and to promote the health and well-being of children and families.

  • Diverse leadership is required. For child- and family-serving agencies to adopt this public health approach, leaders at all levels, including children, youth, family and community members, must work to transform the values, attitudes and customary behaviors that comprise the organizational culture of human services.

  • Create a partnership with youth, families and professional and community stakeholders. To successfully integrate systems of care, families, youth and communities must be actively engaged in driving this comprehensive, consensus action agenda forward.