Family Organizations in Children's Mental Health Systems of Care: the Challenge of Maintaining Financial Sustainability

J Behav Health Serv Res. 2021 Jan;48(1):15-35. doi: 10.1007/s11414-020-09711-7.


Family-run organizations are an important source of support for families of children with serious emotional disturbance, yet little work has explored how these organizations sustain their work. The National Evaluation Team (NET) for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Children's Mental Health Initiative grant program interviewed 20 family organizations in Grant Year 2 and 22 organizations in Year 4 to assess their main funding sources, the adequacy of this funding to support the organization, and changes in their funding and financial sustainability over time. Family organizations were supported mainly by mental health authority and other state agency funding and were in early stages of accessing Medicaid funding for peer services. However, many did not have sufficient or sustainable funding to maintain their functions by the grant's end. This work discusses factors that may relate to sustainability and the development of more sustainable funding for these important organizations.