What is System of Care?

Many children have a variety of physical, mental, social, emotional, educational, and developmental needs. A System of Care framework is used to provide the necessary services to these children.

A System of Care is a child and family focused framework based on the principles of:

  • inter-agency collaboration
  • individualized, strength-based practices
  • cultural competence
  • community-based services
  • full participation of families at all levels of the system
  • Shared responsibility for successful results


Interagency collaboration brings together child and family-serving agencies from the public, private, and faith-based sectors. Examples include child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, education, and health in partnership to provide needed services. For example, mental health and the local schools work together so that a child with behavioral issues is not immediately suspended from school.

Individualized, strength-based practices identify and build on the strengths of the family and child. Families are included in creating an individual plan to provide needed services. This ensures services are easy to access, effective, and match the culture and language of the family and child.

Cultural competence in the System of Care is built on the notion that in order to work effectively with a child and family, there must be an understanding of the family’s culture, race, values, and ethnic background.

Community-based services are an integral part of the System of Care so that children and families receive effective services in their own homes and neighborhoods.

Full participation of families at all levels of the system means that services provided are family-driven and youth guided. A commitment to this practice ensures that there is family and youth partnership at the community and state level for the purposes of program planning and direction.

Shared responsibility for successful results means that all stakeholders (agencies, community supports and families) have a responsibility to individual/family outcomes by ensuring effective programs in each community and implementing System of Care effectively statewide.


Child and Family Teams

At heart of our System of Care is the wraparound planning process known as the Child and Family Team meeting.

Child and Family Teams are family members and their community supports that come together to create, implement and update a plan with the child, youth/student and family. The plan builds on the strengths of the child, youth and family and addresses their needs, desires and dreams.

History of the Child and Family Teen Definition


System of Care Family Handbook

The link below will bring you to the full version of a family handbook that may be helpful to families in your organization or community. Written by NC Families United, a parent support and advocacy organization, it’s an excellent resource to learn about SOC practices and principles System of Care Handbook.


Links to System of Care Initiatives in State Agencies


Gathering Information and Results/ Evaluation

The State Collaborative seeks to promote data sharing to improve children’s service experiences and outcomes. Below please find information from recent presentations on data sharing:

North Carolina Early Childhood Data System Coordination

Data Workgroup Final Report – 2008

Management Assistance for Child Welfare, Work First, Food and Nutrition Services in North Carolina