Stage 2: Plan

The strategic planning process narrows down from vision to action steps.

After you have identified your Core Leadership Team and your community collaborators, you are ready to dive deeply into strategic planning. Your Core Leadership Team may have had some initial discussions related to identifying your shared vision and mission at your first meeting, and you can use that work to inform and drive the next steps of your strategic planning. 

In a nutshell, strategic planning is a scaffolded approach to planning, beginning with a broad vision and resulting in specific action steps and deadlines. 

Strategic Plan Components

Vision 

We begin strategic planning by thinking big. The importance of identifying your Leadership Team’s vision of your system of care implementation cannot be overstated. This is a future-thinking concept of how you want your system of care world to look. It should be aspirational and long-term and should motivate every member to act in its direction.

The importance of identifying your Leadership Team’s vision of your system of care implementation cannot be overstated.

Consider the vision statements of the following large companies:

  • Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
  • Ikea: To create a better everyday life for the many people. 
  • Google: To provide access to the world’s information in one click.

Here are some examples from a few mental health organizations:

  • Center for Early Childhood Consultation at Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development: Our vision is to provide culturally competent, holistic, and wellness-focused services that promote children’s social-emotional development, prevent development of mental health challenges, and address social-emotional problems that currently exist.
  • Mind: We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. 
  • Canadian Mental Health Association: [Our vision is] mentally healthy people in a healthy society. 
  • ACCEPTTransforming systems to better serve youth by supporting partnerships between youth, young adults, and organizations.

A shared vision statement should be a bold articulation of a common dream, developed and agreed upon by as many of the stakeholders as possible. 

Complete Worksheet 4, “Identifying Your Vision.”

Mission

With the vision in mind, the mission — the connection between where the community is now and where it wants to go in the future — can be established. Mission statements should be simple, direct, clear, and easy to remember. The mission describes why your community team is working together. All of the goals, objectives, and strategies will be identified and implemented with the sole purpose of advancing the local system of care toward its mission. 

Examples of mission statements include:

  • Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  • Amazon: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.
  • Toyota: To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America.
  • Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration: To reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities

The mission statement should provide a succinct description of the primary reason the system of care exists.

Complete Worksheet 5, “What’s Your Mission?”

Identifying guiding principles and shared goals helps shape the focus of community planning. 

Guiding Principles

Guiding principles often emerge during this process and help to ensure consistent philosophical approaches to the strategic plan development and implementation. Beth Stroul and her colleagues noted “the system of care approach is largely defined by its strong value base specifying that systems and services should be family driven and youth guided, individualized and strengths based, culturally and linguistically competent, data driven and outcomes oriented, and collaborative across child-serving systems.”1 To help members identify guiding principles, invite them to brainstorm the values and exemplary behaviors of the community’s system of care. What are the most essential elements of the SOC?  What values are the most critical to implement? Given the values of your SOC, how will your SOC exemplify those values?

An example of a guiding principle is:

Systems of Care are designed to ensure availability and access to a broad, flexible array of effective, community-based services and supports for children and their families that address their emotional, social, educational and physical needs, including traditional and nontraditional services as well as natural and informal supports.

Shared Goals

After you have identified the principles and values that will guide your system of care planning for your community, you can begin to identify the specific goals towards which your system of care will work. The goal-setting process enables community leaders across disciplines to identify goals that benefit children and families. These goals are broadly stated expectations that later shape more specific system outcomes. 

Examples of shared general goals may include:

  • Improved cultural and linguistic competency across providers
  • Increased accessibility and availability of services
  • Reduced out-of-home placements
  • Improved child functioning

Complete Worksheet 6, Part 1, “Blueprint for a Strategic Plan.”

This approach to planning allows you to build off of the work you have completed and agreements you have forged. 

Objectives and Strategies

After you have identified your shared principles and goals, your group can identify the specific objectives and strategies — your specific “to-do” lists — that will help make sure you meet your goals. 

Your system of care Core Leadership Team will next identify the objectives — the clear, attainable, specific program changes or milestones that move the group towards accomplishing the goal. Each goal may have several objectives, but they typically do not have more than three or four. Strategies are the specific action steps or tasks needed to accomplish the objectives. They clearly spell out what is to be accomplished by when and the person(s) responsible for leading the work. Occasionally, strategies may be sufficiently complex that they require further planning to accomplish. In these cases, action plans are useful tools to use to identify the discrete steps, persons responsible, and timelines necessary to complete an identified strategy. 

Complete Worksheet 6, Part 2, “Blueprint for a Strategic Plan.” 

Worksheet 6 also provides a completed example of a guiding principle, goal, objectives, and strategies and a blank template for your team to use.

Getting Feedback

As your Core Leadership Team completes its initial draft of the strategic plan for your system of care, solicit additional feedback from your Community Collaboration team. Given the shared vision, mission, guiding principles, and identified goals, will the listed objectives enable your system of care to meet those goals? Are the objectives specific and measureable? Do they reflect the needs, strengths, and culture of the community? Revise and finalize your strategic plan as necessary to reflect the guidance of the Community Collaboration team. 


  1. Stroul, B., Dodge, J., Goldman, S., Rider, F., & Friedman, R. (2015). Toolkit for Expanding the System of Care Approach. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health.
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