Burlington County, New Jersey
The Burlington Partnership was conceived by the Department of Human Services, the Division of Mental Health Services, family members, and community stakeholders as a “laboratory” to explore and implement the following areas of change: Build capacity to purchase fully integrated, culturally competent service plans collaboratively developed with families by individual or multiple-provider networks to meet the comprehensive needs of children and their families; Demonstrate the importance of family partnership and cultural competence in improving child, family, and systems outcomes; and Eliminate funding stream barriers through the use of pooled dollars and changes in payment mechanisms such as the introduction of case rates. The department has developed a “reform agenda” that essentially re-creates the children’s service delivery system in the State. The purpose of the Children’s System of Care Initiative, as the reform agenda is known, is “to keep children with the most complex needs (i.e., those involved with multiple systems) at home, in school and out of trouble and to do so by establishing a single point of accountability at the local level.” The initiative is based on the fundamental principles that children and families need child-centered and family-focused, culturally competent, and community-based services. Further, these services should be flexible, managed, and coordinated as an organized system of care.
Covering 805 square miles and extending the entire width of the State, Burlington County is the largest county in New Jersey. US Census data for 2000 reports Burlington’s 444,381 residents are 78 percent White, 15 percent African-American, 5 percent Latino, 3 percent Asian, and 1 percent Other. Ten percent of the population speaks a language other than English at home. Approximately 25 percent of the county’s population is under 18 years of age. The intended population for the Burlington Partnership remains unchanged from the grant application, with a focus on children with complex needs who are involved with multiple child-serving systems. The Partnership specifically focuses on multi-system involved children in or at risk of placement in residential treatment centers and/or the Burlington County Juvenile Detention Center; children being screened for or receiving psychiatric inpatient services; children in the child welfare system (DYFS) who have or are risk of multiple foster care placements; and, youth transitioning to adult services or out of support services. The grant application indicates that the project, when fully implemented, will serve 100 children and their families annually. However, as the project has been implemented, these figures have been revised upward to 240 children and families each year after the initial 2-year phase-in process is completed. At the time of the 01 site visit, 110 children were enrolled in the project. In August 05, there were 186 children enrolled in the program and it was described as operating at capacity. The year before the site visit, there have been 309 children served by the care management organization, Partners for Kids and Families; 331 children served by Children’s Mobile Response; 280 children served by Youth Case Management; and approximately 303 families served by the Family Support Organization.