City of Alexandria, Virginia

Initial Funding:

September and November, 1994


The main goal of the Alexandria System of Care (ASOC) is to create a network of services designed to help children who meet mental health criteria for serious emotional disorders and require services from two or more child-serving agencies. Over time, goals shifted to meet the changing needs of the program. Significant increases in family involvement within the system of care in Alexandria occurred in the year preceding the Year 4 site visit. Perhaps the most significant change is the restructuring and enhancement of the ACCESS family program, formerly known as the Family Support and Advocacy Program. The new program, called Families for Families, was designed to provide a forum for families to receive needed social support from other families, as well as training and advocacy services. In Year 3, the goals remain consistent and unchanged (e.g., full family involvement in system level decision making, culturally competent service delivery, family driven service planning).


 As a comprehensive system of public agencies, ASOC serves a broad target population. Any child under the age of 18 residing in the city of Alexandria is eligible for services in ASOC, and youth 21 and younger may also be enrolled if they are in special education or in the custody of child welfare. ASOC is “mandated” to serve children who have been placed in foster care, who are at risk for placement, or who are receiving special education services if they have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). ASOC also serves “non-mandated” children—those in the mental health or juvenile justice system who do not have foster care placements or IEPs for special education. According to documentation provided by the site, 264 children and families were served by ACCESS between August 1995 and March 1997. In fiscal year 1996 ACCESS served 186 children and expected to serve 286 by the end of fiscal year 1997. Overall, more than 550 children have been provided ASOC services each year. In 1998, around 100 children and families received services from ACCESS, and over 300 children have received these special services since the grant award. A large percentage of children served are from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds.


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