From their perspective as participant observers, the authors discuss the initial phase of an attempt to remodel the child/family mental health service delivery system. Conceptualizing families as being at varying levels of risk for dismemberment is seen as: (a) providing a politically viable terminology, (b) permitting each agency to develop a continuum of services tailored to its mandate and clientele, and (c) facilitating legislative efforts to analyze simultaneously the budgets of all those state agencies with major responsibilities for children's services. A planning team endorsed cooperative planning between a state-level coordinating council and individual locales. Cultural communities were invited to participate in a manner paralleling the planning role of local communities. A model for a free standing case management entity is proposed. The concept of empowerment is discussed as a criterion for multi-level outcome evaluation.