Academic journal article Education

Cultural Competence, Systems of Care, and Students with Emotional and Behavioral Challenges

Academic journal article Education

Cultural Competence, Systems of Care, and Students with Emotional and Behavioral Challenges

Article excerpt

For youth with emotional and behavioral challenges, previous research has indicated that placement decisions are sometimes based upon factors other than those related to their level of functioning. Variables that have been found to impact such decisions include age, sex, and race (Robertson et al., 1998; Kauffman et al., 1987; Glassberg, 1994; Westendorp et al., 1986). Unfortunately, placement decisions have reflected a general societal trend of minority overrepresentation in restrictive settings that has been well documented in the areas of special education, mental health, and juvenile justice (Dunn, 1968; Deno, 1970; Leiber, 2002; Ridley, 2005; Rawal et al., 2004).

"System of care" refers to an approach to service delivery guided by the following principles: (1) services should be community based to the greatest extent possible, (2) caregivers should be partners in both identifying needed services and designing individual service plans for their children, and (3) service systems and providers should ensure that all services are provided within the unique cultural and ethnic perspectives of each family (Stroul & Friedman, 1986). A key goal of a system of care is to provide services in the least restrictive setting appropriate for the child and family (Pumariega & Vance, 1999). Given the aims of cultural competence and least restrictive placement, one would hope that youth would not be subject to restrictive placement decisions based upon factors other than functioning or level of need.

A study of changes in educational placement restrictiveness for youth participants in one system of care revealed that clinical functioning was not a significant predictor of educational placement and that being a racial/ ethnic minority was associated with a more restrictive educational placement (Meyer, Anderson, & Huberty; 2008). The proposed study seeks to further investigate the relationship between placement restrictiveness, youth emotional-behavioral functioning, and race/ ethnicity.

Background

Youth with serious mental health needs, such as emotional and behavioral disabilities, have been documented to demonstrate poor outcomes both in and out of school (Anderson, Kutash, & Duchnowski, 2001; U.S. Department of Education, 1998; Wagner, 1995). In response to this, restructuring efforts have focused on different ways of providing services (Dryfoos, 1994; Stroul & Friedman, 1986). Mental health and education advocates have acknowledged that youth are best served when the goals of educational success and mental health are pursued together in coordinated approaches (Dryfoos, 1994; Woodruff, Osher, Hoffman, Gruner, King, Snow, & Mclntire, 1998). A product of these initiatives was the Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP), enacted by Congress in 1984. CASSP provided an innovative vision for service provision for children with serious emotional and behavioral problems (Friedman, 1997). CASSP expressed several principles to guide the provision of services: (a) services should be community based to the greatest extent possible, (b) caregivers should be partners in both identifying needed services and designing individual service plans for their children, and (c) service systems and providers should ensure that all services are provided within the unique cultural and ethnic perspectives of each family (Stroul & Friedman 1986).

Systems of care are spectrums of services that are organized to meet the needs and challenges facing youth with serious emotional and behavioral difficulties through the implementation of CASSP principles (Friedman, 1997; Stroul & Friedman, 1986). The goal of a system of care is to maximally involve families and to coordinate all the services and supports a youth and family need, while making certain that service provision occurs in the least restrictive settings (Pumariega & Vance, 1999). Wraparound process is a component of systems of care and the elements of wraparound correspond directly to system of care principles. …

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