About Us


To put in place policies, organizational structures, and funding mechanisms that support the implementation and expansion of a children’s mental health system in Tennessee grounded on SOC values and principles.



To ensure Tennessee families have access to community-based services for children, youth, and young adults with mental, emotional, and behavioral health needs that is coordinated across systems, individualized to a family’s unique needs, strengths, and culture, and where the families are the primary decision makers in the care of their children.

Who We Serve
How We Do It



The System of Care Across Tennessee (SOCAT) is built on 19 years of lessons learned in Tennessee. The System of Care (SOC) is the philosophy that SOCAT operates under and what we promote to all partner agencies, departments, and stakeholders as a preferred method of serving children and their families.

SOC’s core values are that we are family-driven and youth-guided, providing culturally and linguistically competent services and supports in community-based settings.

SOCAT is one way in which the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), in partnership with the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY), ensure that Tennessee’s most vulnerable children, youth, young adults and their families receive the services and supports that they need to be successful in life.

Core Values

  • To be family-driven and youth-guided with the strengths and needs of the child/youth/young adult and family determining the types of services and supports provided.
  • To be community-based with the primary services as well as the system management resting within a supportive, adaptive infrastructure of structures, processes, and relationships at the community level.
  • To be culturally and linguistically competent with agencies, programs, and services that reflect the cultural, racial, ethnic, and linguistic differences of the populations they serve in order to help people access and use the correct services and supports and to remove inequalities in care.

Who We Serve

Eligibility Information

We help the child, youth, or young adult who:

  • Is between the ages of 0-21
  • Is experiencing emotional or behavioral concerns that affect their daily life (i.e. having trouble in school, with their family, with peers or adults, with law enforcement, or children’s services)
  • Is having difficultly or is at risk of psychiatric hospitalization, residential placement, or DCS custody
  • Is willing and interested in participating (if under age 16, includes family)

Guiding Principles*

*Stroul, B., Blau, G., & Friedman, R. (2010) Updating the system of care concept and philosophy. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health.


Ensure availability of and access to a broad, flexible array of effective, evidence-informed, community-based services and supports for children and their families that addresses their physical, emotional, social, and educational needs, including traditional and nontraditional services as well as informal and natural supports


Provide individualized services in accordance with the unique potential and needs of each child and family, guided by a strengths-based, wraparound service planning process and an individualized service plan developed in true partnership with the child and family


Deliver services and supports within the least restrictive, most normative environments that are clinically appropriate


Ensure that families, other caregivers, and youth are full partners in all aspects of the planning and delivery of their own services and in the policies and procedures that govern care for all children and youth in their communities, states, territories, tribes, and nation


How We Do It


  • SOCAT is a two-tiered approach to the widespread adoption of SOC values and principles.
  • Local-level implementation of SOCAT is the first tier and is achieved through eleven lab sites throughout Tennessee. Those lab sites are located in the following counties: Tipton, Madison, Decatur, Clay, Putnam, DeKalb, Coffee, Meigs, Sevier, Cocke, and Johnson. Each lab site has the capacity to serve their surrounding counties and referrals from any county throughout Tennessee are welcome. If we do not have the capacity to provide the child or children, youth, young adult(s) and their families in their county of residence, we will connect the family with resources that are available in their communities. SOCAT provides care-coordinated services using a high-fidelity wraparound approach. The process of high-fidelity wraparound is a free service to child/children, youth, young adults and their families as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. There is a waiting list in some lab sites; however, each site will ensure that the family receives some type of services or support until the site has availability to serve the family.
  • The second tier of SOCAT is widespread implementation of the philosophy, values, and principles of SOC. The second tier is led at the state level by department and agency personnel and includes the development of a statewide infrastructure that will support the full adoption of SOC as the preferred means of working with children, youth, young adults, and families.

How We Know It Works