In 1981, a change was made to federal Medicaid regulations allowing states to ask permission to use funds previously used to pay for residential or institutional care, for a wide variety of home and community-based services for individuals who lived in or were at-risk of entering institutions. In Florida, this event triggered the “Bring Our Children Home Campaign” where multiple state agencies collaborated to develop a network of community-based services that would enable children with serious emotional disturbances to leave out of state institutions and return to their families for treatment in their own communities.
The following year, a national study found that two-thirds of all children with severe emotional disturbances were not receiving appropriate services. These children were "unclaimed" by the public agencies responsible to serve them and there was little coordination among the various child-serving systems. In 1984, to address this need, Congress appropriated funds for the Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) which was envisioned as a comprehensive mental health system of care for children, adolescents, and their families.
In 1984, the Florida Legislature also enacted Chapter 1006.04 of the Florida Statutes, establishing the Multiagency Service Network for Students with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SEDNET). This network, modeled after the core principles of CASSP, was funded as a discretionary grant through the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services (BEESS). The grant provides key leadership for the development and implementation of wrap-around services and supports for children with emotional and behavioral disabilities (E/BD) and their families. The fundamental goal then, and now, is to facilitate the process of cross system collaboration and inclusion of families as full partners.
SEDNET is a network of 19 regional projects that are comprised of the major child serving agencies, community-based service providers, students, and their families. Local school districts serve as fiscal agents for each local regional project. Within this framework, SEDNET focuses on developing interagency collaboration and sustaining partnerships among professionals and families in the education, mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems serving children and youth with and at-risk of E/BD.
In 2010, a BEESS redesign plan added the SEDNET Administration Project to the existing statewide network of 19 regional projects. In addition, geographic restructuring of regional projects achieved better alignment of the SEDNET local regions with other state agencies and judicial circuits. The SEDNET Administration project is housed at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg and provides technical assistance and support in building service capacity within the 19 regional projects and collaborates in related state level activities impacting system of care.
Today, Florida’s statewide network of SEDNET projects serve as a collaborative resource for school districts, agencies, and families working to promote positive educational and community-based outcomes for children with E/BD.
SEDNET currently focuses on the following five initiatives:
- Capacity building to support implementation of effective system of care practices
- Technical assistance and training
- Interagency collaboration
- Systems of care and educational legislation and policy
- Parent and youth development and involvement
Contact your local SEDNET region for more information on services in your area. Statewide and regional contact information can be found under the Statewide and Local Regions tab.
Be sure to bookmark this SEDNET website!