Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Multisystem Families and the Budget: Better, More Cost-Effective Social Services Needed

A recent Chapin Hall study showed the majority of the Illinois’s social service resources are used by a relatively small number of so-called multisystem families, those who are receiving two or more of services (substance abuse treatment, mental health care, foster care, adult incarceration, and juvenile incarceration).

Multisystem families comprised only 23 percent of the study population, “all families who have a substantiated case of abuse or neglect with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and those families with a woman aged 18-45 years who have received food stamps between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008 from the Illinois Department of Human Services.” However, these families made up 68 percent of the issues for which social services were provided and used 68 percent of the systems’ fiscal resources. Data on the co-occurrence of problems showed that nearly all families who had experienced juvenile incarceration or substance abuse treatment received additional services as well.

Especially in a difficult economic climate, it is essential to identify ways that systems can more effectively and efficiently serve all families. Evaluating the provision of these services and understanding how and by whom they are used requires data gathering and analysis across social service agencies, and meeting the needs of multisystem families in a cost-effective way requires agency coordination and communication. Looking toward these solutions better serves the most vulnerable families and reduces future costs to taxpayers.

For a framework for policy success and strategies for tough fiscal times.

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