Long-term effects of a system of care on children and adolescents

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Abstract

This study evaluates an exemplary system of care designed to provide comprehensive mental health services to children and adolescents. It was believed that the system would lead to more improvement in the functioning and symptoms of clients compared to those receiving care as usual. The project employed a randomized experimental five-wave longitudinal design with 350 families. While access to care, type of care, and the amount of care were better in the system of care, there were no differences in clinical outcomes compared to care received outside the system. In addition, children who did not receive any services, regardless of experimental condition, improved at the same rate as treated children. Similar to the Fort Bragg results, the effects of systems of care are primarily limited to system-level outcomes but do not appear to affect individual outcomes such as functioning and symptomatology.