Just as a safe reliable railway system depends on having sturdy and well-built tracks, Connecticut needs a well-built and connected system that supports all of its children and advances their mental, behavioral, social, and emotional well-being. 

Connecting to Care Initiative

Connecting to Care is a partnership that strives to build a system or “network of care” that meets the behavioral health needs of all children in our state. To do this, we partner with state, regional, and local behavioral health system leaders; providers that serve children, youth, and families; and family and community members. Our goal is to coordinate and integrate behavioral health services across child-focused systems, such as: early care and education, K-12 education, pediatric primary care, juvenile justice, child welfare, and more.


Connecting to Care operates workgroups focused on enhancing the network of care infrastructure. Workgroup meetings are open to the public. If you are interested in joining a workgroup contact the workgroup chair.

Trauma-Informed School Mental Health

This workgroup integrates behavioral health services with school and community supports.

Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS)

This workgroup develops and implements a statewide process for incorporating enhanced CLAS standards within the Network of Care.

Family Care Connections

This workgroup ensures that a diverse group of families and youth are involved as full partners to drive the transformation of the behavioral health system.

Social Marketing & Communications

This workgroup increases awareness of the system of care and array of services and works to reduce stigma related to mental illness.

Workforce Development

This workgroup empowers families to advocate for their own service and system needs, and works with providers to embrace families as full partners in systems change.

In addition, the Behavioral Health Plan for Children Implementation Advisory Board operates three current workgroups.

Past Connecting to Care workgroups included:

Leadership and Partners

Connecting to Care was initially developed with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through a Connecticut Network of Care Transformation (CONNECT) grant in 2014. Connecticut has since received sustainability funding (CONNECT III), to expand the statewide, regional, and local network of care infrastructure.

The Connecting to Care initiative is operated by Connecting to Care’s grant-funded partners and overseen by the Connecting to Care Steering Team made up of a variety of family members and key stakeholders to provide oversight and support across implementation activities. The initiative also works closely with a consortium of 12 state agencies, Behavioral Health Plan Implementation partners, and statewide committees to advance children’s behavioral health system improvements.  

Grant-Funded Partners

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the primary recipient of funding for the Connecting to Care initiative from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). DCF has statutory authority to provide children’s behavioral and mental health services statewide. DCF provides funding for a broad array of clinical and community-based services, including outpatient clinics for children, therapeutic group homes, extended day treatment programs, emergency mobile psychiatric services, respite care, family advocacy, intensive case management, and more.

Carelon Behavioral Health serves as the Administrative Services Organization for the Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership, composed of the Connecticut Departments of Social Services (DSS), Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and Children and Families (DCF). Carelon’s Network of Care Managers provide technical assistance and support to regional networks of service providers, families, and community members across the state.

The Child Health and Development Institute (CHDI) is an organization that helps build and enhance trauma-informed and high-quality mental health systems, practices, and policies. CHDI serves as the Coordinating Center for the Connecting to Care initiative. As the Coordinating Center, CHDI provides: a) fiscal, administrative and logistical support, b) content expertise in systems of care development, implementation, and behavioral health systems integration, and c) leadership and governance support.

FAVOR, Inc. supports, trains, empowers, and advocates for families with children who have mental, emotional, or behavioral health challenges and/or developmental and intellectual disabilities. FAVOR Inc. collaborates with families and service providers to enhance community and program effectiveness and foster family involvement in decision-making tables about policies and practices that affect the well-being of our children.

The Yale University Consultation Center provides evaluation support to the Connecting to Care initiative. The Center offers a range of  services and related training to individuals, organizations and governmental agencies throughout Connecticut, the U.S. and internationally. The mission of the center is to promote health and wellness, prevent mental health and substance abuse problems and enhance equity and social justice.

Steering Team

Members of the Connecting to Care Steering Team serve as statewide system of care thought leaders and assist in supporting the development, implementation, and enhancement of policy and practice at local, regional, and statewide levels. This includes identifying strategies to spread and scale best practices related to system of care development and generating action for increased alignment across multiple state initiatives.

The Connecting to Care Steering Team also provides technical assistance, support, and feedback for ongoing system of care development across the CONNECT workgroups.

John Torrello
Court Support Services Division, Judicial Branch

Grace Grinnell

Ann Smith
Caregiver / AFCAMP Advocacy for Children

Cheri Bragg

Nan Arnstein

Amy Marracino
Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Sarah Gibson
Department of Children and Families

Michelle Riordan-Nold
CT Data Collaborative

Sergio Rodriguez
State Department of Education

Steven Rogers
Connecticut Children’s

Michael Scanlon
Young adult

Allison Kernan
Young adult

Debbie Morrill

Kris Robles
Department of Children and Families

To learn more about the Connecting to Care Steering Team, please contact us at info@plan4children.org.  

Additional Materials

Connect III Overview
Connect III Goals and Measurable Objectives
Connecting Newsletters
Data Stories

“The Connecting to Care initiative created data stories on a range of children’s behavioral health and “network of care” topics.