School Referral of Children with Serious Emotional Disturbance to Systems of Care: Six-Month Clinical and Educational Outcomes

Jennifer Greif Green, Ziming Xuan, Lana Kwong, Jeffrey A. Anderson, Philip J. Leaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Effectively coordinating school and community services has remained an elusive goal for children’s mental health service providers. Researchers speculate that when community and school-based providers collaborate, supports for youth with serious emotional and behavioral disorders improve. An understudied corresponding hypothesis is that such improvement will be associated with successful school outcomes. Aims of this study included: (1) investigating outcomes of students referred by their schools to systems of care; (2) examining socio-demographic correlates of outcomes; and (3) comparing youth referred by schools to youth referred by mental health agencies. Using data from an ongoing examination of more than 170 federally-funded system of care communities, findings suggest that students referred to systems of care by schools improved on internalizing and externalizing symptoms, absence rates, and rates of school failure. Youth referred from schools also had significantly greater improvement in absence rates than those referred by mental health agencies. These findings suggest the importance of considering referral source in understanding treatment outcomes. In particular, results indicate that school staff might play an especially important role in referral to community systems of care, as their involvement in referral might facilitate improved school functioning outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3728-3738
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Children’s social services
  • Emotional and behavioral challenges
  • Interagency collaboration
  • School and mental health outcomes
  • Systems of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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