Illinois has made substantive progress in developing a comprehensive mental health service system for youth with serious emotional disturbances (SED) and their families. In Child and Adolescent services, the emphasis is on resilience and evidence informed practice as components in the systemic transformation process. Many of the activities in which the DMH is engaged are providing the foundation to make this vision a reality.
The Child and Adolescent Services office is led by a board certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and consists of Statewide C&A Staff, some of whom are geographically located in each of five regions of the state. Specialty program grants specific to children and adolescents are managed by Central Office Child and Adolescent Services staff who have expertise in such areas as mental health services in schools, transition services for youth, early childhood services, and mental health prevention and early intervention for children and youth.
The five geographic Comprehensive Community Service Regions (CCSRs) are responsible for contracting activities with 124 child serving agencies which either provide specialized services or are community mental health centers with children's programming. They also collaborate with and monitor local hospitals that provide psychiatric programs for youth. The localized integration of a comprehensive care system including mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, juvenile justice, and education is within their purview. Each CCSR has access to C&A staff specially designated to address child and adolescent and juvenile forensic service issues. Consumer parents (Family Consumer Specialists) are regionally based and function in the critical system role of connecting DMH services to their communities while providing DMH with the consumer family voice and input from their communities.
Being part of DHS has provided an opportunity for the DMH to address a number of challenges within the shared mission of one Department such as: prevention, early intervention, integration of vocational and educational services, coordination and development of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse (MISA) services and, through the coordinated intake process, an opportunity to enhance case finding, early identification, and outreach efforts.