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“They’ll Give You a Second Chance”: Perceptions of Youth and Caregivers Regarding Their Experiences in a Community-Based Mental Health System of Care

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Child-and-family-centered systems of care and the inclusion of child, youth, and family voice represent an alternative to traditional, authoritarian approaches to children’s mental health treatment. Although much has been written about the centrality of child, youth, and family voice in creating responsive and effective mental health systems, the literature contains limited research highlighting the viewpoints of youth and caregivers themselves who have participated in systems of care. Our exploratory study seeks to narrow that gap. Utilizing eight semi-structured youth and caregiver interviews, we assessed the perceptions of youth and their caregivers participating in a community-based mental health system of care. Five primary themes emerged. The families we interviewed described negative previous experiences with mental health treatment and a strong sense of satisfaction with the care they received using a system of care approach. In addition, they expressed appreciation of the quality of relationships developed as a part of their treatment, felt individualized services made treatment more personally meaningful, and were empowered to act as active agents in obtaining future mental health treatment and achieving life goals. Implications for practice and future research are discussed, with the goal that the insights gleaned from our exploratory study can be used to inform future research and practice efforts seeking to incorporate child, youth, and family voice into children’s mental health services.

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This research was funded by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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Correspondence to Susan Frauenholtz.

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All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the authors’ Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Frauenholtz, S., Mendenhall, A.N. “They’ll Give You a Second Chance”: Perceptions of Youth and Caregivers Regarding Their Experiences in a Community-Based Mental Health System of Care. Child Adolesc Soc Work J (2020).

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  • Youth and family voice
  • Children’s mental health
  • Systems of care
  • Evaluation