Spotlight on SOCAT - System of Care Across Tennessee

Last Updated by Kate Spears on

This week on WCTE’s Get Ready To Learn radio show, join Cindy Putman and her special co-hosts from a new program that will aid families across the Upper Cumberland in getting better access to the care that is needed when there was been a serious emotional disturbance.

Keri Virgo and Laritha Fentress share about SOCAT- System of Care Across Tennessee. The vision of their program is to provide Tennessee families with access to community-based services for young children, youth, and young adults who have mental, emotional, and behavioral health needs.

What’s special about this approach is that it is more coordinated across systems, and individualized to a family's unique needs, strengths, and culture, making sure that families are the primary decision makers in the care of their families.

The system of care philosophy is built upon these core values and guiding principles:

  • 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.

Putman was first introduced to this program at a Community Advisory Board Meeting with the Putnam County School System where Laritha shared about the work taking place in the Upper Cumberland. This information was so important that Putman knew she needed to share it with her listeners.

Some of the ways that the Systems of Care approach have impacted communities around the country are outlined below:

  • School suspensions and expulsions decreased by 44%.

  • Achievement of passing grades increased by 31%.

  • Youth reported significantly lower levels of depression (22%).

  • Youth suicide attempts were reduced by more than two-thirds.

  • Youth self-reports of arrest dropped from 27% to 11%.

*Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services.

Keri Virgo, MPM serves as SOC-EXP Project Director, Office of Statewide Systems of Care and Laritha Fentress, MA, CFSS is the SOCAT Divisional Coordinator. They boldly share their own personal journeys with their children and how these types of programs support the entire family. ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, ODB- Oppositional defiant disorder, other mental health or other challenges will be addressed by SOCAT.

These services are free and confidential to families and anyone can make a referral. The services are provided by a grant and eligibility information is provided by clicking here.

If you’d like to learn more, you may reach out to Keri or Laritha using their contact information below.

Keri - (615) 770-0462 or keri.virgo@tn.gov

Laritha - (615) 913-0115 or laritha.fentress@tn.gov

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Tune in each Saturday morning at 9:30 for the WCTE Get Ready To Learn Radio Show, with host Cindy Putman on Zimmer Broadcasting's The HUB 107.7 FM and 1400 AM

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