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Glossary of Key Terms

Assessment: A professional review of child and family needs that is done when services are first sought or periodically to assess progress. This includes a review of physical and mental health, intelligence, school performance, family situation, and behavior in the community. The assessment identifies the strengths of the child and family. Together, the provider and family decide what kind of treatment and supports may be needed. 

Assessment Protocol: Guidelines that an agency or individual follows when conducting assessments.

Assessment Tools: A variety of instruments that are used to gather information about a person’s functioning and/or level of need. 

Behavioral Healthcare: Continuum of services for individuals at risk of, or suffering from, mental, addictive, or other behavioral health disorders.

Behavioral Therapy: Therapy that focuses on changing unwanted behaviors through rewards, reinforcements, and desensitization. Behavioral therapy often involves the cooperation of others, especially family and close friends, to reinforce a desired behavior. 

Best Practices: Guidelines or practices driven more by clinical wisdom, guild organizations, or other consensus approaches that do not necessarily include systematic use of available research evidence.

Bio-psychosocial Assessment: The evaluation of a person’s biological, psychological, and social factors for the purpose of developing treatment. 

Care Coordinator: Works with each family to develop a plan that provides them with individualized services that are based on their unique needs. This includes helping the family to negotiate the ongoing, dynamic, process that brings all of the systems together to develop the family's comprehensive and coordinated plan. Care Coordinators work with the family on many levels, including engagement, assessment, crisis intervention, implementation of the family's plan, monitoring of services, transition, and finally discharge, follow-up, and evaluation of how well the plan worked. 

Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS): A rating scale, which assesses a youth’s degree of impairment in day-to-day functioning due to emotional, behavioral, psychological, psychiatric, or substance use problems. 

Child Adolescent Needs & Strengths Assessment (CANS): A document that organizes clinical information collected during a behavioral health assessment in a consistent manner, to improve communication among those involved in planning care for a child or adolescent. The CANS is also used as a decision-support tool to guide care planning, and to track changing strengths and needs over time. The CANS is used in child-serving systems in more than 30 states across the country. Questions enable the assessor to determine whether a child meets the criteria for Serious Emotional Disturbance in addition to the CANS assessment questions. 

Child Welfare: Child service sector that focuses on child protection, foster care, and the overall care of children’s health and living conditions (i.e. Department of Social Services). 

Cognitive Therapy: Aims to identify and correct thinking patterns that can lead to feelings and behaviors that may be troublesome, self-defeating, or self-destructive. The goal is to replace such thinking with a more balanced view that leads to more fulfilling and productive behavior. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A combination of cognitive and behavioral therapies which helps people change negative thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors so they can manage symptoms and enjoy more productive, less stressful lives. 

Collaborative: To work together especially in a joint intellectual effort. 

Community-Based: The principle that the System of Care focuses on the needs and desires of the community. 

Coordinating Council: A governing body of System of Care that consists of families, youth and key systems. It is regarded as the “conscience” of System of Care. It frames challenges for the full partnership, guards the core values of System of care, and ensures focus towards goals. 

Continuous Quality Improvement: A strategy of continuously assessing the process and outcomes of service delivery to learn how to improve those processes. 

County Team (The Orange County Inter-Agency Collaborative Team): Includes Orange County, New York, Departments of Mental Health, Social Services, Probation, Health, Employment and Training and the Youth Bureau. In addition the County Team has representatives from BOCES, school districts, families, the legislature, Family Court and the County Executive’s Office. 

Cultural Competence: Understanding and adapting to the cultural differences and context of a community expressed through thoughts, speech, and actions. Differences can be according to religion, race, age, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. To be culturally competent also means to incorporate the above into policy and practice. 

Early Intervention: A process for recognizing warning signs that individuals are at risk for mental health problems and taking early action against factors that put them at risk. Early intervention can help children get better more quickly and prevent problems from becoming worse. 

Evidence: Refers to data resulting from scientific controlled trials and research, expert or user consensus, evaluation, or anecdotal information. 

Evidence-Based Assessment: Methods and processes that are based on empirical evidence, in terms of both reliability and validity as well as their clinical usefulness for prescribed populations and purposes. 

Evidence-Based Care: The application of the best evidence available to treat in the health care community to improve the overall quality of care. 

Evidence-Based Culture: Characteristics or features of organizations and systems that support the use of Evidence Based Practices. 

Evidence-Based Environment: An environment in health care that is represented by the practice and implementation of evidence-based interventions. 

Evidence-Based Practices: Practices that integrate the best research evidence with clinical expertise and client values.

Family-Run Organizations: Advocacy and support organizations that are led by family members with expertise/experience in the field of mental health. 

Family-Driven: Families have a primary authority in decision making regarding the care of their children and in the policies and procedures of System of Care. 

Family Partner: Partners with the family, helping to guide them through the service-delivery system, by creating a bridge for the family and service providers. They are family members who have had similar experiences to the families they work with, and they volunteer in a non-judgmental way, offering informal supports and sometimes link families to other families and community resources. 

Full Partnership: System of Care’s collaborative decision making body open to families, youth, and community partners. It involves shared decision-making and responsibilities.


Governance/Administration: The persons (committees, departments, etc.) who make up a body for the purpose of administering something. 

Infrastructure: Is the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society. The basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of the community, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons.


Juvenile Justice: An area of law that applies to children who have not reached the legal age of adulthood/maturity. The goal of juvenile justice is rehabilitation, not punishment. Also refers to the service sector that is responsible for serving children judged to have committed unlawful acts. 

Linguistic Competence: The ability to communicate effectively and express information in a way that is understood by diverse audiences including people of limited English language proficiency, those who are illiterate or have limited literacy skills, and those with disabilities. The use of bilingual staff, interpreters, and assistive technology are marks of linguistic competence. 

Logic Model: A tool used to show how the project links the purpose, goals, objectives and tasks stated with the activities and expected outcomes and to plan, implement, and evaluate the project. 

Management Information System (MIS): A computerized cross-management information system used to electronically record services. It eliminates inefficiencies and duplication of services and ensures that each client is uniquely and accurately identifiable as they receive cross-system services. 

Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST): An intensive family- and community-based evidence-based treatment for youth. 

Needs Assessment: A body of information gathered on the needs of a family in order to plan services. 

NETWORK: Orange County’s strengths-based, family focused planning process that provides a single point of access for youth and families who need the help of a variety of services. It includes family partners that collaborate with parents and organizations providing services. 

Outcomes-Based: The principle that the System of Care focuses on the outcomes that need to be achieved. 

Organizational Readiness Assessment: Assesses key characteristics that are necessary for implementing an evidence-based practice with new requirements for training, supervision, and measuring fidelity and outcomes.

Partners for Children Youth and Families Coalition: Has 18 topic-specific action teams and brings together multi-systems providers, parents and youth with hundreds of members to make cross referrals to services and advance healthy families.


Resiliency: The quality that allows an individual or group to function well despite the odds against them. Two fundamental concepts are associated with resiliency: risk and protective factors. Mental health promotion concepts focus on minimizing the impact of risk factors (such as stressful life events) and enhancing the protective factors such as social support that increase people’s ability to deal with life’s challenges. 

Respite: Planned short-term relief care for families. It helps family members cope with daily responsibilities, maintain stability, take needed breaks and feel less isolated from their community, family and friends. 

Screening Instruments: A measure to determine one’s level of need for treatment (i.e. Child Adolescent Needs & Strengths Assessment, YASI). 

Service Provider Organizations: Mental health or other social service agencies that offer treatment or other services to children and families. 

Service System: Refers to multiple agencies in different sectors (mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, substance abuse, education, and healthcare) that provide services and treatments for the varying needs of children and families. 

Single Point of Access: A single entry-way to receive cross-system services that eliminates multiple assessments, and uses validated screening and assessment instruments, and reduces the duplication of services. 

Stakeholders: Those people who are interested, involved, and invested in the initiative in some way. This may include children and families, family organizations, advocates, community groups, funders, mental health and social service providers, or university or college-based research teams. 

Strengths-Based: The approach to care that utilizes and values the existing, under-recognized strengths and resources in the youth, families, and community. 

Support Group: A group (also known as a self help group) that aims to provide mutual support for its members. A support group gives caregivers an opportunity to share their feelings, problems and information with other people undergoing similar experiences. 

System of Care: A system of care is a method of addressing children's mental health needs. It is developed on the premise that the mental health needs of children, adolescents, and their families can be met within their home, school, and community environments. These systems are also developed around the principles of being child-centered, family-driven, strength-based, and culturally competent; and involving interagency collaboration. 

Technical Assistance Partnership: The Partnership for child and family mental health that is designed to assist and encourage the development of System of Care communities. 

Transition-Age Youth: Young adults aged 16-21 who are in the process of aging out of the systems designated for children. 

Workgroups: Separate groups that are considered an extension of the Full Partnership, and meet during, and between Full Partnership monthly meetings to complete tasks. 

Wraparound Services: A collaborative team-based approach to offering services for children with emotional and behavioral problems and their families. Team members, who are identified by the child and family and other service providers meet regularly to create goals, implement treatment and monitor the outcome of individualized treatment plans. 

Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI): Assesses risk, need and protective factors and helps develop case plans for youth. The YASI includes a brief "pre-screening" version which can be used at the time of intake to assist in early decision-making such as appropriateness and targets for diversion. The full YASI instrument examines and generates risk and protective scores for each of 10 domains, as well as overall risk classifications. These domains are legal history, family, school, community and peers, alcohol and drugs, mental health, aggression, (pro- and anti-social) attitudes, (social and cognitive) skills, and employment and free time. The final product is a case (supervision) plan that builds on those areas identified by the YASI and allows the probation officer to prioritize areas to be addressed, establish short- and long-term goals, and specific interventions (with persons responsible and target dates) for those areas. 

Youth Leadership Group: A skill-building, activities-based group that encourages youth advocacy.

Revised August 30, 2010

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System of Care Wraparound Services are the highest level of community-based care available in Orange County, and we want to make sure that wraparound and care coordination services are provided to the youth and families who need them most.

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