Louisiana creates coordinated care system for state’s youth

Louisiana is bringing together four child-serving agencies to form a Coordinated System of Care (CSoC) for youth with behavioral health needs, state officials announced last week. By combining efforts from various state agencies, the state hopes to save money, reduce duplicated efforts across agencies and increase the overall outcomes of the children they serve.

In what is being hailed as a model for other states in the nation, Louisiana’s Coordinated System of Care will formerly bring together the leadership of the Office of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Education. Governor Bobby Jindal said the CSoC will support children through social services, juvenile justice, health and education programs – expanding to support the states over 45,000 children with behavioral health needs.

“The bottom line in this Coordinated System of Care is that we must join forces here on the state level – where many agencies are just blocks apart – to serve our most at-risk young people all across Louisiana,” Gov. Jindal said in a statement.

According to the governor, the CSoC has three goals:

  • To reduce out-of-home placements with significant behavioral health challenges by working closely with youth advocates, judges, local officials and especially parents – to develop this System and identify what services are needed to care for kids already in out-of-home facilities and those who are at risk of entering them.
  • To reduce the state’s cost of providing services by better leveraging Medicaid and other funding sources, while also increasing service efficiency and reducing duplication across agencies.
  • To increase the overall outcomes of the children it serves by individualizing care for at-risk children and administer the program through all state services.

Program supporters said the CSoC could help children get the treatment they need, “without moving from one system to the other, hopefully preventing the child from slipping through a revolving door of unconnected treatment.”

“Right now, a child with behavioral health issues could be in the education system and then end up in juvenile justice or foster care systems,” Mark Thomas, Executive Director of Mental Health America of Louisiana commented.

The CSoC implementation will begin in stages over the next several months, with 1200 participants entering the combined system in the first six months and 2400 in the first full year.