Integrating Nursing Care into Systems of Care for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

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Recent developments in providing care to children with emotional and behavioral disorders, especially those with serious emotional disturbance, have included the establishment of systems of care. Guided by a set of principles and values, these systems of care have organized and delivered services to children and families with complex needs. To date, nurses have not had a salient role in systems of care.


It is estimated that 20% of American children and adolescents have an emotional or mental disorder. As many as two thirds of these children are not receiving services. Systems of care have been funded to provide services for these children, particularly for the most severely affected. To date, nursing has not had a prominent role in these systems of care.


Based on their knowledge, skills, and holistic approach to care, nurses could better integrate nursing care into systems of care. Possible roles as case managers, primary therapists, in-home interventionists, and in educational programs are suggested.

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