Sheila Pires’ 2002 Building Systems of Care: A Primer offers several basic governance questions for communities to address. Pires notes that the following key issues are essential to a SOC governance structure:
Pires' Governance Structure Essentials1
SOC governance structures function best when they have some sort of enabling authority from something or someone that has the authority to give it. Consider whether your system of care would benefit from legislation, executive order, contractual obligation, interagency memorandum or other indicator of community will, as expressed through a defined, credible process.
SOC governance structures need to offer clarity related to what the governance body is responsible for governing. Roles and responsibilities of state and local governing bodies should be defined, distinct, and non-redundant.
SOC governance bodies should be representative of the stakeholders interested in the system of care. To avoid compromising their effectiveness, governance bodies should include families and youth, state, local, and community representatives, providers and other representatives.
SOC governance bodies should ensure that they have the capacity to govern the system of care. Does it have the talent, time, staff, data management, and other resources needed to operate? Whether through staffing or contractual relationships, care needs to be taken to ensure that the governance board has the capacity to effectively govern. Lack of capacity affects outcomes, relationships among stakeholders, and can compromise the entire system of care.
SOC governance structures must be able to communicate consistently and credibly among key stakeholder groups. Without capable and credible communication, governance boards can fail to grow.
SOC governance structures must commit, in principle, protocols, policies, and processes, to the notion of “shared liability” for the populations of children being served under the system of care. Fully embracing the SOC principle of unconditional care means the governance structure, not a sole agency, is responsible for all children and youth under its care.