What are Centers of Excellence?

By: Dr. Cheri Shapiro

Challenges in providing behavioral health treatment in the community have been noted for decades.

Some challenges include:

  • high rates of mental health and substance use problems among youth,
  • fragmented services,
  • lack of attention to family views and desires, and
  • variable quality of care.

To address these concerns, calls for coordinated systems of care emerged in the 1970’s.

Today, there are a large number of evidence-based interventions for children, youth, and families who are facing mental health and substance use problems.  However, these high-quality interventions are not available or accessible for many families. Thus, one important goal of current systems of care is to increase access to high quality, evidence-based services and supports for families and youth in need. In other words, just having high quality interventions is not enough.  Service organizations and providers need to be able to put these programs into use, or implement them, in real world community settings.

However, because implementation of evidence-based interventions in real world service settings is complicated, Centers of Excellence (COE’s) have evolved to help simplify the process.

COE’s provide a range of services related to program implementation, including:

  • support to identify evidence-based interventions,
  • training,
  • technical assistance, and
  • data collection.

There are COEs in a number of states, including Maryland, Colorado, and Connecticut.

The South Carolina Center of Excellence is one of the most recently established. Our goal is to help organizations learn about, select, and implement evidence-based interventions to serve children, youth, and families.

In future posts, we’ll go into detail about some of these high-quality interventions!