Care coordination is indispensable to the effective operation of a System of Care/Community Collaborative. It is both a service to children and families and a function of a responsive system. As a service, care coordination is carried out in children’s mental health in Connecticut on three levels, which are explained below. As a service, care coordination involves direct client contact by someone who has clinical knowledge but does not function as the clinician on the case. Rather, the Care Coordinator, as an architect of the service plan along with the family, uses clinical and community systems knowledge to broker and advocate for services, and coordinates and monitors the implementation of the plan.
Care coordination services are provided to children and youth who are "Seriously Emotionally Disturbed" (SED) and have complex behavioral health needs and require an intensive coordination of multiple services to meet those needs. Consistent with DCF’s practice standards for Systems of Care/Community Collaboratives, care coordination services shall also be available to other children and youth with complex service needs with priority to those children and youth who are at imminent risk for residential or hospital levels of care or who are returning from these levels of care.
The term "Seriously Emotionally Disturbed" children or adolescents, refers to those children defined in the Connecticut Children's Mental Health Plan and federal agencies NIMH/CASSP as published in the Federal Register on May 20, 1993. It is a broader definition than that used by the adult population to define "mental illness.” SED refers to children or adolescents with a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, which has resulted in functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits the child's role or functioning in family, school, or community activities.
Specifically, Serious Emotional Disturbance is a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder for children who are:
- from age birth to eighteen years (note: children age 16-18 qualify with the understanding that the youth must be willing to participate in the Child Specific Team). Although, services can be received up to age 21 if client is still receiving services from their local educational authority;
- currently or at any time in the past year, had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet the diagnostic criteria specified within DSM-IV; and
- resulted in functional impairment which substantially interfered with or limited the child's role or functioning in family, school, or community activities.