State of Delaware - Search and Services/Information

State of Delaware - The Official Website of the First State State of Delaware - The Official Website of the First State
Services and Information

Information for Families

Information for Families

Services Offered

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services, also known as DPBHS, provides a statewide range of voluntary mental health, substance abuse treatment and prevention services for children and youth, under the age of 18.

We provide varying levels and degrees of services depending upon the child's needs.  Our services are child centered and family focused.

The following are brief descriptions of the services offered by DPBHS to children and youth.  For more detailed information, please call the DPBHS Information and Referral Unit weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 302-633-2571 or 1-800-722-7710 or email at:

Crisis Bed is a substitute care setting that may be utilized for a period of up to 72-hours, when such substitute care will facilitate effective implementation of crisis intervention services.

Day Treatment is a facility-based intensive treatment program for children or adolescents with serious emotional disorders who are unable to attend school.  This service operates on a five hour per day, five day per week basis. Treatment is integrated with an educational program with certified teachers. Services are provided during the school day and evenings to assure that working parents are able to participate. Activities occur both on-site and in the child’s natural environment.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is designed primarily for children ages 13-17. DBT is an Evidence Based Practice consisting of individual, group and family therapy. This has been an effective treatment for a variety of conditions such as borderline personality disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, self-injurious behaviors and eating disorders. Treatment is used to aid adolescents in managing problem behaviors (self-harm, self-injury, suicidal planning, gestures, actions, impulsive decision making, and avoidance). Includes 24/7 phone coaching.

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants address school readiness for young children. The Division offers Early Childhood Mental Health Consultations as a free service and partnership with Delaware early childhood education programs with a focus on children 2-5 years of age.  All consultants are licensed mental health professionals with experience working in early child hood settings.  Contact your early childhood center to find out if this service is available.

Family Based Mental Health Services (FBMHS) is an Evidence Based Practice model designed to service children between 3 and 17 years of age and their families (parents, guardians, caretakers and siblings). These children have a serious mental illness or emotional disturbance, are at risk for out-of-home placement into residential treatment facilities, psychiatric hospitals or other settings. The focus of treatment is on the child and family system. Family Based Mental Health Services treat these children and adolescents in their homes, communities and schools thus allowing the youth to remain in the home.  Services are available 24 hours per day and 7 days a week via on call therapist and include crisis intervention as a part of the service.

Trained Family Support Providers (FSPs) have lived experience as parents or caregivers of a child with a mental or behavioral health challenges. FSPs can help your family to navigate the mental health system and to learn how to be a positive advocate for your child. FSPs are available to you for one to two hours per week to provide support and resources and even to advocate with you at meetings such as IEPs, therapy appointments and psychiatrist visits.

Contact Barbara Messick at or (302) 892-6408.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is an Evidence Based Practice model designed to serve children ages 11-17. FFT is a short-term, family-focused, community-based treatment for youth who are either “at risk” for, or who manifest, antisocial behavioral problems such as conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, disruptive behavior disorder, violent acting-out and substance abuse disorders. Co-morbid behavioral or emotional problems, such as anxiety or depression, may also exist as well as family problems, such as communication and conflict issues. FFT has been applied to a wide range of families with at-risk, pre-adolescent and adolescent youth in various multi-ethnic, multicultural contexts. Interventions are primarily conducted at home but may occur in school or an outpatient settings and at times of transition, from a residential placement.

Inpatient Hospital Treatment is provided for children who are suicidal, self injurious, and/or a danger to others due to a psychiatric condition.  These children are hospitalized in an inpatient setting to provide safety and a twenty-four hour treatment setting under the direction of a physician. Treatment is used primarily for acute crisis resolution to address behavior and symptoms which cannot be addressed at other less restrictive levels of care. When the acute crisis is resolved, the client should continue treatment in a less restrictive context. Inpatient Hospital Treatment services include Independent psychiatric evaluation within 24 hours of admission, a thorough assessment of the medical, psychological, social, familial, behavioral and developmental dimensions of the child’s situation within the context of the child’s precipitating symptoms. Focused brief treatment and stabilization as medically necessary, including individual and group approaches and problem-specific approaches. Therapeutic stabilization of youth in crisis, including physically aggressive minors, and minors who are a danger to self or others.

When a family is in the midst of an emotionally charged situation involving a child who is struggling emotionally or behaviorally, it can be hard to decide what to do and how to calm things down. Our Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS) are here to help. MRSS is available to address the needs of children through age 17 and their families anytime, day or night, including weekends and holidays. Family members and other concerned people can access MRSS by calling 1-800-969-HELP.

We expanded how we define a crisis to meet the needs of young Delawareans and their families. This approach will make it easier for children and families to get help when they need it to defuse situations that affect family functioning. MRSS provides timely assistance that assesses risk/safety and works collaboratively with children and families to identify their needs, strengthen their support network, and make connections to community resources.

The goals of our Mobile Response and Stabilization Services are to

  • determine if emergency services, such as ambulance or police, are needed
  • assess risk and plan for safety
  • defuse emotionally charged crisis situations
  • connect young people and their families with helpful resources
  • help families develop plans to safely maintain children in their homes, schools, and community
  • refer children and families to treatment services based on risk and needs ranging from outpatient treatment to hospitalization for psychiatric or crisis stabilization needs

DPBHS has contracted with two provider agencies to deliver mobile response and stabilization services throughout the State. Legacy Treatment Services maintains the statewide call center and provides mobile response services in Kent and New Castle Counties. Delaware Guidance provides mobile response services in Sussex County.

Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is an Evidence Based Practice model designed to serve children ages 12-17. MST is a home-based intensive family and community-based treatment that addresses multiple aspects of serious conduct related behavior in adolescents. MST typically targets chronic, aggressive youth who are at high risk of out-of-home placement. MST recognizes that many “systems” (family, schools, neighborhood/community, peers) play a critical role in a youth's world and impacts their behavior. Each system requires attention when effective change is needed to improve the quality of life for youth and their families.

Outpatient Services for Mental Health and Substance Abuse offers individual and family assessment; psychiatric and psychological services; individual, group, and family counseling; consultation to other child-serving agencies and case management.

This is a direct service in which the therapist meets with the child, siblings and/or the parents or legal guardians to plan for treatment and work toward achievement of the goals stipulated in the client's treatment plan. This is one of the least restrictive (or controlled surroundings) of the mental health service levels.

This service is available for all age groups.  Contact information for Outpatient Services can be found on the DPBHS Brochure English version or Spanish version.

Partial Hospitalization/Day Hospital treatment services provide support and psychiatric services five days per week to clients living at home or in other residential settings.  This level of care is used for clients with severe, complex, or chronic psychiatric disorders requiring high intensity psychiatric medical services.

Prevention Programs

Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) are comprehensive rehabilitative services to aid and support youth in the development of daily living skills, interpersonal skills, and behavior management skills and to enable youth to learn about and manage symptoms, improve functioning and behavior due to behavioral health (MH, SA and co-occurring) disorders. Individual and group activities and programming must consist of services to develop skills in functional areas that interfere with the ability to live in the community; participate in educational activities; develop or maintain social relationships; or participate in social, interpersonal, recreational, or community activities. This service provides support and assistance to the client and the family to identify, adjusts, and manage symptoms, enhance participation in group living and community activities; and, develop positive personal and interpersonal skills and behaviors to meet the youth’s developmental needs as impacted by his/her behavioral health issues. PRTFs must meet the requirements in §441.151 through 441.182 of the Code of Federal Regulations. DPBHS contracts with out of state PRTF providers when it is determined the child’s need cannot be properly met by an in-state Residential Rehabilitative Service.

Residential Rehabilitative Services provides a 24-hour, supervised, residential living arrangement with intensive psychiatric services for children and adolescents with Mental Health and Substance Abuse disorders that impair their ability to be successful in community settings. Services will be delivered in a trauma informed environment in conjunction with other evidence based practices. The focus of treatment is to resolve the primary presenting problems that necessitated the youth’s need for this type of structured residential treatment service with the goal of safely returning a child to their natural home and school settings. Research shows improved outcomes with shorter length of stay, increased family involvement and stability and support in the post-residential environment (Walters & Petr, 2008).

Residential Transition Services (RTS) are ancillary services provided in preparation for a child’s return home from a residential facility and continue, with the same provider, after the child has transitioned back to the home. Services are designed to work with the family and child prior to discharge. The service will identify natural and community supports and plan for these resources to be utilized to promote positive transitions home.

Residential Service are available for all age groups.

Therapeutic Support for Families (TSF) is available to children under the age of 18. TSF provides psycho-educational, therapeutic and supportive services for parents/ caregivers and youth who are participating in treatment services from the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services. TSF services are delivered in conjunction with other medically necessary treatment services. TSF services support the treatment goals identified in the youth and family’s treatment plan.