Written By: Ken McGill, EdS, LMFT

Background Information:

To be chosen to serve in this role is an absolute honor! I think it is important to further introduce myself to those whom I have not yet had the privilege of meeting. I have been the lead CANS/TCOM Trainer for the New Jersey Children’s System of Care for the past 12 years. My very first introduction to the CANS and Communimetrics was back in 2004, when I attended a training that John Lyons was facilitating here in New Jersey. It was in my role as a Regional Care Coordinator for the Contracted Systems Administrator to support the rollout of the statewide system of care for the northern region of the state.

It was exciting for me to learn from the person who literally ‘wrote the book’ on the Child Adolescent Needs & Strengths or CANS. In fact, I was given a copy of Communimetrics, which I later got signed by Dr. Lyons, and it was an amazing read. I would strongly recommend that you read it if you have not yet already done so.

It was at this point that I knew I made the right choice to shift to the public sector. My total number of years serving the New Jersey Children’s System of Care (NJCSOC) is 17, spending 4 years as a Clinical Director of a Care Manager Organization before transferring to Rutgers University-University Behavioral Health Care-Behavioral Research Training Institute. It should be noted that NJCSOC is celebrating a milestone this year-20 years!

My professional life prior to moving over to the public section consisted of working as part of a private practice as a Marriage & Family Therapist working in one of the richest counties in New Jersey-Bergen County. The practice was owned by a psychiatrist and the other group partners included a psychologist, social worker, nurse-practitioner, an educational specialist and me…a family therapist. The ‘clients’ were executives of business & industry, celebrities and their families who paid for these services ‘out of pocket’ because of their socio-economic status. Many of my fellow students from Seton Hall University told me how ‘successful’ I was because of my employment at this ‘prestigious’ agency.

However, I had another life-changing event happen to me which shifted my thinking and my life journey. It was when I listened to Dr. Nancy Boyd-Franklin speak at a statewide conference for systems therapy. Dr. Boyd-Franklin is a professor, author, and clinician who has become a dear friend of mine over the years.  It was during this presentation that she asked the audience the question, “How many families are not able to access your services?” and went on to highlight some alarming facts: many individuals, couples and families do not have access to medical/mental health resources, and people of color were impacted by systemic poverty, racism and other societal factors having generational impacts on their lives. It was then I made the shift over to ‘serve’ in the rollout of New Jersey’s Statewide Children’s System of Care.

The reason for outlining my journey is two-fold; first it gives you a background of what I bring to discussions; secondly it will further expand upon how I fit into the larger TCOM Collaborative. It is the latter which I believe is the most meaningful to everyone. You may be asking, “What do I get out of attending/participating in the conference?” The answer to this question is, “So much more than just attending a single event!” As I look back over the 14 years of conference attendance & presentations it has been a meaningful journey of ‘shared knowledge.’ Over these years I have learned from very intelligent people about training, certification, implementation, data analyses and managing complex systems. Additionally, I have developed friendships for which I am truly grateful and value not only their expertise but assistance in providing me with such unconditional support. As a result my understanding of TCOM (i.e. CANS, FAST, ANSA, etc.) is so much richer. I know that these tools can gather a depth potential information, but the ultimate goal of TCOM is to always adapt to meet the needs of individuals, families, and communities all over the world. 

The ‘Call for Papers’ was just sent out for those who are interested in sharing and becoming a part of this Worldwide Collaborative Learning Community or the TCOM Collaborative.

This Year’s Theme:

I hope you are even more excited to both attend and present at the 2021 TCOM Conference! This year’s theme is ‘Getting a Leg Up On TCOM’ which directly connects to the locale of the conference, Lexington Kentucky. Kentucky’s rich history of hosting the Kentucky Derby dates back to 1875. The theme also directly connects with TCOM’s goal of assisting others with support, assistance and a helping hand. The phrase ‘Getting a Leg Up’ can aptly be applied to each attendee and our role as ‘professional helpers.’ Whether you are a direct care worker, an agency/organization administrator, a county/state director or a family member attending the conference will expand your knowledge of TCOM and how to apply TCOM in these roles.

TCOM Blog-since you are reading my write-up it will only take a move of the mouse and a click to access the Blog where there are insightful articles on various topics connected with systems, society and self. Please consider writing up a blog on a topic of your interest & expertise and submitting it

Contact Information:

My hope is that I was able to connect with you and spark your interest in not only attending this year’s TCOM Conference but to presenting your knowledge and joining the TCOM Collaborative. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly at or

One Response

  1. I so look forward to the energy, humor and commitment Ken will surely bring to this event! Congratulations Ken, can’t wait to be a part of it.

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