The mission of the Nashville Connection is to implement a coordinated, accountable, child and family centered system of care to enable children with serious emotional disturbance to be cared for in their homes, schools, and community, and for children and families to develop skills for managing their lives in their homes and community. Specific goals are as follows: To promote parent professional community partnership within the context of the community in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the Nashville Connection system of care; To ensure cultural competence of providers and of the system of care; To expand interagency infrastructure to enable access and a full array of mental health services and natural supports that are “wrapped” around children and their families; To promote youth, family, and community empowerment; To provide ongoing training and education to all system stakeholders; To incorporate continuous quality improvement and evaluation mechanisms to inform decision-making to improve services for children and their families.
In March 2002 the program was expanded beyond the original five-zip code region to include all of Davidson County. The county, in contrast to the original five zip codes, is majority White (67 percent); 26 percent of the population is African-American, and less than 5.0 percent is Latino. According to the Nashville Connection Local Data Profile (August 2004), African-Americans were over-represented in the program (56 percent of the enrollment), while Whites were under-represented (23 percent). Multiracial persons made up 7 percent and Other made up 10 percent of the population in the project. A significant change in the target population since the 2004 assessment is that all children under the age of 18 years who meet the criteria are now eligible for enrollment in Nashville Connections. Prior to this change, the target population for the project was defined consistently as children with serious emotional disturbance, between the ages of 8 and 13, who reside in Davidson County and require the services of more than one agency. Children either must be at imminent risk of placement in State custody, hospitalization, or residential placement, or already in an out-of-home placement or State custody, with the possibility of returning to their home and community given adequate support. The Nashville Connection received its grant in October 1999 and began serving children and families in October 2000. By April 2001, the program had served approximately 20 families. In August 2004, a total of 251 children had been enrolled in the program. At the time of the 2004 assessment, there were 123 children active in the program. At the time of the April 2005 assessment, 277 had been enrolled and 73 children were receiving services.