With more than 400,000 children in foster care nationally as of September 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently increased efforts to address some of the challenges with helping children affected by trauma and living in out-of-home care. These new efforts have included bridging system gaps, improving access to services, pinpointing strengths and challenges for these youth, and consistently providing effective treatments. With these goals in mind, the HHS Administration for Children and Families awarded the Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego funding to initiate the California Screening, Assessment, and Treatment (CASAT) Initiative. By building on the Chadwick Center’s more than 30 years of advocacy for trauma-informed mental health practices, the CASAT Initiative will promote integrated and coherent approaches to screening and assessment, increased collaboration among service providers, and use of evidence-informed practices in child welfare and mental health systems throughout California.
The CASAT Initiative includes two phases over five years. Starting in 2013, the planning phase focuses on mapping the services available to children in California impacted by trauma and in out-of-home care while building collaborative and meaningful partnerships across systems. During the implementation phase effective screening, assessment, and treatment approaches will be reinforced by expanding the use of trauma-informed, evidence-informed, and strength-based practices across systems.
This statewide effort involves active partnerships with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center (CASRC) to pilot new approaches in the child welfare and mental health systems of Mariposa, San Diego, and Tulare Counties. A primary objective of the CASAT Initiative is to broaden implementation of screening, assessment, and treatment practices to support children in out-of-home care throughout the state.
The CASAT Initiative intends to