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System of care

How ODE’s Involvement in the Governor’s System of Care Advisory Council Benefits the Agency and the K-12 Education System

Many of Oregon’s students, their families, and school staff require support from multiple systems across the spectrum of the social determinants of health. In the ideal, these systems:

  • Offer holistic support to the whole person from early childhood throughout adulthood.
  • Provide high-quality, linguistically and culturally responsive care that fulfills the mental health, health, education, and self-sufficiency needs of Oregonians. 
  • Are integrated and easy for individuals to navigate

Fulfilling this mandate requires a network of collaboration that includes mental health, health, education, social services, self-sufficiency services, and more.

The education system is a hub where families, students, and school staff often enter this interconnected network of care, and frequently where youth and family needs are first identified. The education system is neither designed nor equipped to address fulfill all these identified needs, however..

System of Care (SOC) is a philosophy that brings together all youth-serving systems to create synergy, and a more functional system where youth and their families can access the services and supports they need through whichever entry point best serves them.
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SOC represents a broad, flexible array of effective services and supports that are organized into a coordinated network that:
  1. Integrates care planning and care management across multiple levels. 
  2. Is culturally and linguistically competent.
  3. Builds meaningful partnerships with families and youth at service, management and policy levels.
  4. Has supportive management and policy infrastructure.
  5. Is data-driven. This approach is nationally recognized and has demonstrated benefits for youth and families as well as system partners for more than 20 years in states like New Jersey, Maryland and elsewhere.

ODE’s Community Care Demonstration Project, a partnership between ODE, the Oregon Health Authority, University of Oregon Suicide Prevention Laboratory, and 4 Oregon school districts, represents a model and strategy for embedding schools and districts within local systems of care, and providing dedicated individuals and pathways to connect families to local and state resources to meet their health and mental health needs.

How Involvement in the SOCAC Benefits ODE and Promotes its Mission and Values 

ODE’s active and ongoing participation in the SOCAC and related subcommittees benefits our agency and Oregon’s youth, families, and staff by advancing ODE’s equity stance and the priorities listed below, while simultaneously promoting the values of ODE’s Integrated Model of Mental Health

Stressed systems and people are more apt to experience stress-related health and mental health conditions and illnesses, which can significantly inhibit teaching and learning. Further, school staff and students within overtaxed education systems are more inclined to exhibit behaviors that undermine wellbeing, belonging and racial equity, such as limited self-awareness regarding one’s biases and related behaviors such as othering, bullying, harassment, and discrimination that impair the learning environment and negatively impact academic achievement. 


ODE’s active involvement in the SOCAC allows our agency to articulate the needs of the education system, and collaboratively develop policies, strategies, practices, and initiatives with youth, families, and state and local agencies that directly address barriers to wellbeing, belonging, school attendance, teaching, and learning. The Community Care Demonstration Project, which has been greatly informed by ODE’s ongoing participation in the SOCAC, demonstrates the collective positive impact and systems change that is possible when school districts, ODE, OHA, ODHS, UO, and local SOCs collaborate to develop, implement, and evaluate innovative strategies in the services of better serving students, families, and school staff.  ​​​

The SOCAC’s work promotes the alignment of state agency and community partners to ensure that systems serving youth and families support the whole child along a continuum and spectrum of care from prevention to high intensity services. The SOCAC’s impartial forum, and its accentuation of youth and caregiver voice in planning and policy development and implementation, is essential for serving the mental health, health, and education needs of youth, to create the conditions for students to learn, teachers to teach, and families to thrive. This means developing strategies and policies that remove the burden on school staff to provide for the mental health and health needs of students and devote more time to: (1) creating cultures of care and connection, (2) implementing transformative SEL standards, WRAP programming, early literacy initiatives, and Student Success plans, (3) supporting regular attendance and (4) ensuring quality teaching and learning.

To fulfill ODE’s statutory role on the SOCAC and demonstrate our commitment to accountability, it is essential that ODE dedicate the requisite effort of highly skilled and effective leaders with significant expertise, lived experience and systemic fluency and literacy in the domains of mental health and substance use service delivery, education practice and policy, research and data collection, child welfare, juvenile justice etc. These individuals must possess the ability to hold space for and honor the experiences of youth and families within and outside of education systems, represent ODE’s vision and values, engage agency leadership and staff in problem solving and decision-making, and drive collaborative systems change. 


Oregon’s System of Care Advisory Council, SB1 (2019), has four clear charges

  • To improve the effectiveness and efficacy of youth (ages 0-25) serving state agencies across the continuum of care, by providing a centralized and impartial forum for statewide policy development and planning to achieve health and education equity. 

  • To develop and maintain a state System of Care policy and a comprehensive, long-range plan and recommendations for a coordinated state System of Care.

  • To provide oversight for programs, policies, and practices to ensure accountability. 

  • To monitor children’s system data to assess progress and promote continuous quality improvement. ODE is a vital partner in this work.