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Division of Mental Health Services

Statewide System of Care Initiatives in Tennessee

The Office of Statewide System of Care (OSSOC) Initiatives has had an active year and continues to work with local and state authorities and agencies to further the System of Care concept and philosophy throughout Tennessee. The OSSOC also publishes a periodic newsletter including the latest information on statewide SOC events and news, with the most recent edition highlighting the work and happenings of SOC around the state. OSSOC also sponsored a statewide SOC Conference in 2013. For links to presentations from the 2013 conference, click here. The OSSOC is looking forward to our next statewide SOC conference in September of 2014.

For more information on the upcoming SOC Conference, or information on System of Care Expansion in Tennessee, please contact Keri Virgo, SOC Expansion Program Manager, at or 615-770-0462.

Melissa McGee is the Family & Youth Engagement Coordinator for the SOC Expansion Initiatives and is responsible for the Family Support Specialist Certification Program. If you have questions or need information about Family & Youth Engagement in SOC Expansion Initiatives or Certified Family Support Specialists, please contact or call 615-253-4160.

System of Care Technical Assistance

System of Care TA Center

The Office of Statewide System of Care (OSSOC) Initiatives is excited to provide technical assistance and support for our demonstration sites, expansion initiatives, and other interested partners in furthering System of Care throughout Tennessee. For more information on the SOC TA Center, please contact Kisha Ledlow, TA Coordinator, at or call 615-770-0460.

About the Office of Statewide System of Care Initiatives (OSSOC)

Systems of Care in Tennessee

What is a System of Care?
The system of care model is an organizational philosophy and framework that involves collaboration across agencies, families, and youths for the purpose of improving access and expanding the array of coordinated community-based, culturally and linguistically competent services and supports for children and youth with a serious emotional disturbance and their families. Systems of care engage families and youth in partnership with public and private organizations to design mental health services and supports that are effective, that build on the strengths of individuals, and that address each person's cultural and linguistic needs. A system of care helps children, youth, and families function better at home, in school, in the community, and throughout life.
 System of Care Core Values

  1. Family driven and youth guided, with the strengths and needs of the child and family determining the types and mix of services and supports provided.
  2. Community based, with the locus of services as well as system management resting within a supportive, adaptive infrastructure of structures, processes, and relationships at the community level.
  3. Culturally and linguistically competent, with agencies, programs, and services that reflect the cultural, racial, ethnic, and linguistic differences of the populations they serve to facilitate access to and utilization of appropriate services and supports and to eliminate disparities in care.

Building Systems of Care in Tennessee
TDMH currently oversees the following federally-funded Systems of Care: the Early Connections Network (Robertson, Cheatham, Sumner, Montgomery and Dickson counties), the South Central System of Care (formerly Mule Town Family Network ), the JustCare Family Network (Shelby County), and the K-Town Youth Empowerment Network (Knox County). TDMH’s first federally-funded System of Care grant was the Nashville Connection (Davidson County), which was funded from 1999-2006.

OCY is committed to providing leadership for statewide efforts to expand the system of care approach throughout Tennessee.  In addition to working in partnership with community stakeholders on federally funded System of Care grants, TDMHSAS also Co-Chairs with the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth the statutorily mandated Council on Children’s Mental Health. 

JustCare Family Network
The JCFN is a partnership between TDMHSAS and Shelby County Government and local child serving agencies, family members and youth in Shelby County.  The goal of the JCFN is to offer an effective approach to delivering mental health services and system transformation through an enhanced cultural and linguistically competent, family-driven, youth guided system of care. JCFN will serve 450 children and youth with serious emotional disturbance and their families in Memphis and Shelby County over the course of the six-year grant funded period. One of the JCFN’s goals is to reach the disproportionate number of African-American youth in the juvenile justice system with undiagnosed, untreated mental health needs. The JCFN serves children and youth ages 5-19 and is federally funded from 2008-2014.  JCFN is currently working with state and local partners to develop and implement a sustainability plan for a local system of care in Shelby County. 

For more information about JustCare, please contact Dr. Altha Stewart at or (901) 222-4500 or visit  

K-Town Youth Empowerment Network (K-Town)
The K-Town Youth Empowerment Network is a mental health initiative in Knox County, Tennessee, serving youth transitioning to adulthood with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and their families. K-Town offers an effective approach to delivering mental health services and system transformation through an enhanced culturally competent, family-driven, youth-guided, community-based and coordinated system of care. Employing local youth and caregivers as care coordinators with support from mental health consultants, and partnering with parents and youth at all levels, K-Town will serve a minimum of 400 youth ages 14-21 with serious emotional disturbance or serious mental illness and their families over the course of the grant funded period (2009-2015). K-Town is a partnership between TDMHSAS, Tennessee Voices for Children, Helen Ross McNabb Center, Centerstone Research Institute, youth, family members, and local child-serving agencies.

For more information about K-Town, please visit their website at or contact Belinda Jones at or call (865) 523-0701.

Early Connections Network (ECN)
The ECN is operated locally through a broad based public-private partnership of the Department’s Office of Children and Youth, Advantage Behavioral Health, Centerstone of Tennessee, Centerstone Research Institute, Tennessee Voices for Children, Volunteer Behavioral Health, families, caregivers, and local and regional stakeholders.  ECN is a six year, federally-funded early childhood mental health initiative in Cheatham, Robertson, Sumner, Montgomery and Dickson counties.  The ECN will serve 400 children ages 0-5 with social, emotional, and behavioral needs and their families over the course of the six year grant.  Special attention will be given to the children and families of military service members, as the five county Region includes a large population of active military, reserve and National Guard units.  ECN will begin enrolling families in services beginning in Fall 2012. 

For more information about ECN, please contact Elizabeth Ball at or call at (931) 221-3800.

For more information about Systems of Care in Tennessee, please contact:

Susan (Sukey) Steckel, LMSW
Director, Office of Statewide System of Care Initiatives
Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Division of Mental Health Services
500 Deaderick Street
Andrew Jackson Building, 5th Floor
Nashville, Tennessee 37243



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