What Is a System of Care?
Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County’s Early Childhood System of Care is designed with the big picture in mind – to create a seamless way to ensure more babies are born healthy, more children are safe from abuse and neglect, more kindergartners are ready to learn when they enter school, and more school-age children have access to quality afterschool and summer programs.
The ultimate goal is that all of our children grow up healthy, safe and strong and become successful, productive members of our community.
How Does a System of Care Work?
CSC funds more than 35 nonprofit and other organizations in Palm Beach County, which then provide a range of more than 50 services to families in our community – from pregnancy through the teen years.
Many families enter the system of care through an entry agency, which determines the most appropriate services for their specific needs. This cuts down on redundancy, and helps a family looking for assistance avoid bouncing from one organization to another.
Families can access services in numerous ways:
Pregnant women may be referred to Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (an entry agency) if certain factors put them at risk for having a poor birth outcome. Those risk factors, determined by a universal questionnaire offered at a doctor’s office or health clinic, may include: poverty, limited access to health care, poor nutrition, substance abuse, homelessness, teen pregnancy, domestic violence or other challenges.
If they are eligible, a family will be invited to participate (at no cost to them) in one or more services funded by Children’s Services Council. Services may include home nurse visiting, nutrition support, maternal counseling, transportation to medical appointments and more.
Expectant families also may call Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies directly to be screened.
All services are voluntary.
A child age 5 or younger may be referred to HomeSafe (an entry agency) if certain factors put them at risk for developmental or learning delays. Those risk factors are determined by a universal questionnaire offered at the hospital when they are born and at area child care centers. HomeSafe conducts a child development screening, called The Ages & Stages Questionnaire, to see if the child is eligible for services at no cost to the family. Services may including speech therapy, home visiting, literacy activities, parenting support and more.
Families may request a child development screening by directly calling HomeSafe.
All services are voluntary.
Children whose families are eligible for child care scholarships may also participate in our System of Care by attending one of more than 230 child care sites that are part of our Strong Minds Network. Strong Minds helps child care providers improve quality so children are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.
School-age children who receive afterschool scholarships also may participate by attending one of about 150 afterschool programs that are part of our Quality Improvement System. These programs receive educational enhancements (like music, art and STEM) through Prime Time Palm Beach County.
Families seeking guidance or help raising their children may reach out to one of 10 BRIDGES sites across Palm Beach County that participate in CSC’s System of Care. BRIDGES are neighborhood hubs in historically challenged communities across Palm Beach County that offer strategies and activities that help parents raise their children to be healthy, safe and strong.
BRIDGES empower parents by giving them information, support and a sense of community while encouraging positive parent-child interaction. Each BRIDGES is unique, offering programs and services that meet the needs of its particular community.
All BRIDGES activities and services are voluntary.
Where Do Providers Fit In?
CSC’s System of Care contracts with more than 35 agencies to provide 50-plus programs to children and families in Palm Beach County. These providers work together in a collaborative manner to ensure families don’t fall through the cracks as they grow. For example, a family that received nurse home visiting when their baby was young may later receive a child care scholarship so their young child can attend an early care & education site that is part of the CSC’s Strong Minds Network. That same family may join parent-child literacy activities at their neighborhood BRIDGES – all in an effort to prepare that child for success in school.
Providers are monitored regularly by CSC staff to ensure they are meeting their contractual goals. Providers also are encouraged to work together with CSC to address systemic issues that may impact families’ abilities to succeed.