Placer County SMART Children’s System of Care
Placer County, CA

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Placer County is a small, primarily rural county, located in Northern California between Sacramento, the state capital, and the Nevada State line. The county spans from the east side of the Sacramento Valley through the foothills, also known as “Gold Country” to northern Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our population is approximately 354,000. Until the recent economic downturn, we were the fastest growing county in California. Placer County started building a System of Care in 1986 and continues evolving its array of services and supports for children and families to the present. Placer´s Children´s System of Care began at the request of Judge Richard Couzens, who wanted the various department staff appearing in his court room to take responsibility for “our children” and to stop letting children fall through the cracks created by system silos and siloed thinking. He charged three department heads with “fixing the problem” which included arguing over jurisdiction and an increasing number of youth being placed in group homes and other high level placements. This presentation will first tell you why building a System of Care is important. Then it will tell you how Placer County moved its agencies and resources to align for the sake of serving children and families. Hopefully, you will take away from this presentation a new understanding of the importance and power of Systems of Care as well as the dedication and determination that´s needed to “keep our eyes on the prize”.

Narrator Biography

Cynthia Brundage, LCSW
Program Manager, SMART

Cynthia Brundage is a Program Manager for Children’s System of Care in Placer County, California. She has been providing direct and indirect services to children, youth, families and adults in various settings in Placer County for 31 years. Ms. Brundage received her BA in 1975 at Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN and her MSW at California State University, Sacramento, CA, in 1984. She has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 1986. Since 2005 she has been the Project Director for the 6-year Cooperative Agreement awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the Children’s Mental Health Initiative. The purpose of the Cooperative Agreement was to continue to evolve the existing System of Care by enhancing cultural and linguistic competency and authentic family and youth voice at every level of the system.