State Awarded $9 Million for Mental Health Services in Shelby County

Monday, October 13, 2008 | 09:52am

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities received a grant of $9 million from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to implement a coordinated system of care for children and youth in Memphis and Shelby County over the next six years, called the JustCare Family Network. Effective September 30, 2008, the grant is a result of the partnership among TDMHDD, Tennessee Voices for Children, JustCare for Kids, Dr. Leon Caldwell with Rhodes College, and Comprehensive Counseling Network (Frayser Millington Mental Health Center).

The focus of a system of care program is to foster the collaboration between state and local agencies, schools, and families and to provide appropriate mental health services and supports for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances in order for them to function more effectively at home, in school, and within their community.

“It is so important that we give Tennessee’s young people the support they need to thrive in school and the community,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “This funding will help families, schools and community agencies work together to build relationships that will benefit the child as they learn to live with their mental illness.”

“The JustCare Family Network will offer an effective approach to delivering mental health services and system transformation through an enhanced culturally competent, family-driven and coordinated system of care,” stated TDMHDD Commissioner Virginia Trotter Betts. “The close working relationship, a true partnership among all parties involved, allowed us to receive these funds that will benefit one of Tennessee’s most vulnerable populations—children and youth. Without the strong collaboration illustrated here this achievement would not have been possible.”

The Network anticipates serving 450 children and youth with SED ages 5 to 19 residing in Memphis and Shelby County. One of the program’s goals is to reach the disproportionate number of African-American youth in the juvenile justice system with undiagnosed, untreated mental health needs.

“Our vision for this system of care began eight years ago when Memphis Shelby County Juvenile Court called the community together to address the large numbers of youth with undiagnosed mental health needs who, instead of getting the help they needed, were winding up at juvenile court. This grant will develop a service infrastructure that will empower caregivers, youth, and families with knowledge, skills, resources and support they need for their children and youth to be successful in their everyday lives and keep them out of the juvenile justice system,” said Jeune Wood with JustCare for Kids.

The Network seeks to achieve the following goals for children and youth with SED residing in Memphis and Shelby County: decrease the incidence and length of stay in placements outside the home; increase access to a broad array of services; improve clinical, academic, and behavioral functioning; decrease parent stress; and implement and infrastructure of family-driven and culturally competent services.

“This specific system of care provides comprehensive services that recognize the diverse cultural practices of families in Shelby County,” remarked Dr. Leon Caldwell with Rhodes College. “This is a great opportunity for us to learn from the youth and their families valuable ways to promote healthy behaviors and deliver effective service.”

Tennessee currently has an additional system of care in Columbia, Tenn. The MuleTown Family Network is in its fourth year of providing a system of care for children, youth, and their families in Maury County. Tennessee’s initial system of care was in Metro Nashville from 1999 to 2006.

For more information on Tennessee’s systems of care or for additional mental health and substance abuse information, please visit or call (615) 532-6500.


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