Prevention and Early Intervention Services

Our prevention and early intervention services are free and offered statewide.  They include:

  • Parent education classes
  • Community outreach efforts
  • Family support initiatives
  • Community education
  • Connections to resources
  • School-based initiatives
  • Youth development initiatives
  • Family advocacy initiatives

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Paying for TreatmentEmergency Services , Outpatient Services , Residential/Day Treatment , Advocacy, Relative Caregivers

All children experience difficulties as they begin to grow up. At what point might parents need help? A good  rule is that if the child’s behavior interferes with normal daily activities, it might be time to consult a professional.

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) operates under the “System of Care” Principles.  See System of Care Quick Reference Guide for more information about the System of Care (SOC) Principles.

Under the SOC Principles, families are involved in making key decisions about the child’s/youth’s individualized plan of care including the selection of service providers.  See the following lists of our contracted Substance Abuse and Mental Health providers for more information:

For a brief description of the services offered by DPBHS to children and youth, see the information below:

How Will I Be Able to Pay for This?

No child in Delaware who needs mental health or substance abuse treatment will be denied access because of the inability to pay. 

If you have health insurance:

Call the number on the back of your insurance card. Ask if you have coverage for behavioral health services. If you think your child may have a substance abuse problem, be sure to tell the person you want someone who specializes in that kind of a problem.  Ask about the therapists who are nearest to where you live.

If you have Medicaid or Chip (See box below):
Use your Medicaid Insurance card the same way as described in the “If you have health insurance” section.

If you cannot afford medical insurance for your child and you do not qualify for Medicaid, you may be eligible to buy very low-cost medical insurance through the State of Delaware Healthy Children Program.

For information call:
Health Benefits Manager 1-800-996-9969 or
Division of Social Services 1-800-372-2022

If you are afraid you will be unable to afford services because you do not have Insurance or Medicaid:

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) provides a range of treatment services for children and adolescents up to their 18th birthday.

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Mental Health and Substance Use Emergencies

A mental health or substance use  emergency is any situation in which the child’s behaviors puts them at risk of hurting themselves or others and/or when the parent isn’t able to resolve the situation with the skills and resources available.

As with any medical emergency, a mental health or substance use emergency can be life threatening. Most of the time, mental health or substance use emergencies are those involving the threat of suicide or an actual suicide attempt. Other types of mental health or substance use emergencies may involve the threat of harm to another person. These are typically times of intense difficulty, trouble or danger.

Parents and caregivers should take suicidal thoughts or attempts seriously. Thoughts of killing or injuring someone are very serious too. Traumatic events, such as witnessing a murder or suicide, or being a victim of bullying or a violent crime can also cause a crisis for your child.

IF YOUR CHILD IS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE, call the DPBHS 24-hour Child Priority Response (CPR) hotline in this kind of emergency:  1-800-969-4357

IF YOUR CHILD IS 18 YEARS OR OLDER and is in a mental health or substance use-related emergency, call the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s Crisis Intervention Services at 1-800-652-2929

NOTE: If your child is injured or is an immediate threat to hurt someone, call 911 before calling the DPBHS Mental Health/Substance Use Emergency hotline.

When you call the hotline, someone will ask you to provide:

  • Your child’s age , and
  • A description of the emergency situation.

The person on the phone will arrange an appropriate service response that could include verbal de-escalation of the situation, a meeting in your home or a meeting somewhere else if help is needed right away. 

If appropriate, a therapist will talk to you and your child and help you develop a safety plan. The Hotline worker will also assist you to obtain other mental health services if help is not needed immediately.

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Most of the time, outpatient services will be all that is needed to help with the problem. Appointments are about once a week.

To find an outpatient therapist near your home, click on the DPBHS brochure English version or Spanish version .

No one will be denied services because of inability to pay.  You may be asked to contribute a small amount but not more than you can afford.

The provider will also ask about your child’s problems and how long they have been present. They will ask how often the behaviors  occur and how intense they are. They do this to find out how quickly to provide help and who the best person to help would be.

Types of Behavioral Health Professionals/Therapists Licensed in Delaware

  • Chemical Dependency Professionals have education and training in how to help people with alcohol and drug problems. They must complete a supervised internship and take a test before being licensed. In Delaware, this license is LCDP.
  • Clinical Social Workers have education and training in how to help children and families with behavioral health problems. They must have a master’s degree, complete a supervised internship and take a test before being licensed.  In Delaware, this license is LCSW.
  • Counselors have education and training in how to help children and families with behavioral health problems. They must have a master’s degree, complete a supervised internship and take a test before being licensed. In Delaware, this license is LPCMH.
  • Marriage and  Family Therapists have similar education to social workers and counselors but they specialize in working with families. In Delaware, this license is LMFT.
  • Nurse Practitioners are nurses who have extra training in a medical specialty, such as psychiatry. They can prescribe medication and often participate on a treatment team like a psychiatrist. In Delaware, this license is APN/CNS.
  • Psychiatrists are doctors (M.D. or D.O) who specialize in treating people with mental health problems.  Child psychiatrists have extra training working with children and adolescents. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication. They often work with other professionals to provide medication that will support the counseling you and your child receive.
  • Psychologists have many years of education and training in assessing and treating mental health problems. They are the kind of behavioral health professional who can administer psychological tests. They are doctors (Ph.D.) but they do not prescribe medication.

Importance of the Family as Part of the Treatment Team

The parents are the most important members of a child’s treatment team. There are many different kinds of families. “Parents” are the people the child looks to in that role from day to day.

  • Parents know more about their child than anyone.
  • Parents know what works best with their child when trying to change behavior.
  • Children look to their parents for guidance, support and example (even when it feels like they don’t).
  • Parents can support the treatment at home. They will be able to tell the therapist if treatment is working and will be able to make suggestions for making it work better. 

The treatment team may also include other helpers such as religious leaders, youth workers, school staff, etc. Since behavioral health treatment is confidential, a therapist would need a signed release from a parent before involving others as part of the team.

Notice of Privacy Practices

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Sometimes your child’s problems may be more serious than can be safely treated in outpatient services. DPBHS offers a range of other services for children who have Medicaid or who are uninsured.

DPBHS Eligibility Policy

DPBHS believes that parents are very important in their child’s treatment. We always try to treat children in their communities when it is safe to do so. We provide different kinds of intensive community-based services.  When a child cannot be safely treated at home, we offer residential treatment or psychiatric hospital until he/she can return home.

Call DPBHS Central Intake at 302-633-2571 or 1-800-722-7710 to request more intensive services for your child.

What Will Happen When You Call

An intake worker will ask about your child’s problems and how serious the problems may be.

Severity of the Problem - An example of different severity would be whether the child’s tantrum is just screaming or whether it turns into breaking things or seriously injuring someone.

Duration – Behavior problems may suddenly appear during times of stress.  If a family is going through stressful times such as financial difficulties, serious illness or divorce, the problems may be related to the stress. In other cases, problems may have existed for a long time and may be getting worse.

Your family will be assigned to a Clinical Services Management Team when your case has been accepted.

Clinical Services Management Teams (CSMT) and How They Help

Each CSMT is headed by a licensed behavioral health professional. DPBHS also has a consulting Child Psychiatrist.  This team works with you to decide what level of care would be best for your child.

A Clinical Services Coordinator (CSC) will meet with you and tell you more about how DPBHS works. The CSC will stay with you while your child is active with DPBHS. 

The CSC will give you a handbook that tells how to contact him/her. Your CSC will let you know about your rights and responsibilities and how to make a complaint.

  • Child and Family Handbook - English [ PDF | Word ]
  • Child and Family Handbook - Spanish [ PDF | Word ]

The CSC will coordinate with workers from other agencies to make sure that everyone is working together. 

From time to time, you and your child may be asked to complete satisfaction forms. We want to know whether you are pleased with the services DPBHS is providing.

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No system is perfect. Sometimes, there are gaps in services. People who speak up to make systems better are advocates. You can become your own advocate or you can obtain advocacy assistance.  There are organizations that already exist for this purpose.    DPBHS Advocacy Resources and Information    


Most behavioral health services are voluntary. That means that before treatment can begin, an informed consent to treat, signed by the parent is needed. Sometimes a grandparent or other relative is acting as parent for the child. Relative Caregivers may legally sign consent to treat if they obtain a Relative Caregivers’ Medical Authorization Affidavit.  Call the Division of Service for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities at 1-800-223-9074. You can also visit their Website . The process is very simple. It will help in obtaining behavioral health and physical health treatment for your child.

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