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Madison CARES is a program designed to develop a mental heath care system that works better for families and their loved ones.  Having a child involved with multiple agencies can be frustrating.  One of our goals, to help make things easier on the family and the child, is to help encourage communication throughout the different agencies. There are many parts to this program; all of which followthe guiding principles, which are that we remain: family driven, youth guided, child centered, and culturally competent.

Madison CARES is a community system of care. Learn more on our systems of care page.

Family and Youth Involvement

Family and youth involvement within a system of care requires mutual respect and meaningful partnerships between families and professionals. Families and youth are involved as key stakeholders, whether they are helping tailor one child’s individualized plan of care,3 or helping design, build, or maintain the system of care. Families and youth are involved in policy development, care coordination, evaluation, strategic planning, service provision, social marketing, and individual and system advocacy. Families and youth involved in systems of care activities may include caregivers, kin, extended family members, former service recipients, and others that families identify as important.


Individualized, and strength-based care acknowledges each child and family’s unique set of strengths and challenges. Formal and informal supports are used to create services and supports for each child and family (rather than families “fitting in” to preexisting service structures). Issues of culture, language, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, religious background, and class are addressed in the individualized plan of care. The plan is flexible based on ongoing individualized assessments of family strengths and needs.

Culturally Competent

An individual or family’s culture can affect the kinds of services needed; as well as the best place, time, and method of delivering services and supports. By working to understand the cultural needs of the families within Madison CARES, service providers convey the importance of respect, dignity, nondiscrimination, and self-determination to all involved.


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