CASSP Principles

CASSP stands for the Child and Adolescent Service System Program which is designed to help children and adolescents diagnosed with emotional disturbances gain access to needed services. Services should be planned collaboratively with the child or adolescent's family, the mental health system, the school, and other agencies.

  1. Child-centered

    Services meet the specific needs of each child, rather than trying to fit the child into an existing service.  Services consider the child's family and community contexts in addition to being developmentally appropriate and child-specific. Services build on the child and family’s strengths in order to meet the mental health, social, and physical needs of the child.

  2. Family-focused

    Services recognize the family as the primary support system for the child.  The family participates as full partner in all stages of the decision-making and treatment planning process, including implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. A family may include biological, adoptive and foster parents, siblings, grandparents and other relatives, as well as other adults who are committed to the child.

  3. Community-based

    Whenever possible, services are delivered in the child’s natural environment, drawing on formal and informal resources to promote the child’s successful participation in the community. Community resources include not only mental health professionals and provider agencies, but also social, religious and cultural organizations, as well as other natural community support networks.

  4. Multi-system

    Services are planned in collaboration with other the child-serving systems already identified in the child's life.  Representatives from these systems collaborate with the family to define goals for the child, develop a service plan, develop the necessary resources to implement the plan, provide appropriate support to the child and family, and evaluate the child’s progress.

  5. Culturally competent

    Culture determines our world view and provides a general design for living and patterns for interpreting reality that are reflected in our behavior. Therefore, services that are culturally competent are provided by individuals who have the skills to recognize and respect the behaviors, ideas, attitudes, values, beliefs, customs, language, rituals, ceremonies, and practices characteristic of a particular group of people. Note: Pennsylvania's cultural competence initiative has focused specifically on African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans who have historically not received culturally appropriate services.

  6. Least restrictive/least intrusive

    Services take place in settings that are the most appropriate and natural for the child and family. These services are the least restrictive and intrusive available to meet the needs of the child and family.