Looking for an exciting new career? Join the DSCYF Team! $10,000 sign-on bonus for eligible full-time positions. More Info

Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families Logo

Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families

Division of Prevention & Behavioral Health Services

Information for Families

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services provides behavioral health assistance to youth

  • who are uninsured, enrolled in Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and require services more intensive than the initial 30 hours of outpatient treatment covered by the Medicaid basic child health benefit provided through the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs)
  • who do not have Medicaid benefits and/or private mental health or substance abuse benefits; or
  • who have exhausted all applicable private mental health or substance abuse benefits

However, DPBHS Prevention services are available to anyone despite the type of insurance coverage they carry or their income. Some programs have specific eligibility requirements.

A mother, father, and their two children holding hands

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (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: DSCYF_Intake_General@delaware.gov).

Caregivers can send this Service Eligibility Request Form by fax to (302) 622-4475, mail it to the address DEPARTMENT OF SERVICES FOR CHILDREN, YOUTH & THEIR FAMILIES, DIVISION OF PREVENTION & BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES, 1825 Faulkland Road, Wilmington, DE 19805 or email to: DSCYF_Intake_General@delaware.gov

Crisis Bed Services

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.

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC)

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)

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 and 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.

Family Peer Support

Trained Family Support Providers (FSPs) have lived experience as parents or caregivers of a child with 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 info@championsde.org or (302) 724-7229 for more information.

Functional Family Therapy

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 outpatient settings and at times of transition, from a residential placement.

Inpatient Hospital

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 setting. 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.

Mobile Response and Stabilization Services – Crisis Services

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 Delaware Guidance Services to deliver mobile response and stabilization services throughout the State.

Multisystemic Therapy

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

Outpatient Services for Mental Health and Substance Abuse offer 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.

Partial Hospitalization/Day Hospital

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.

Residential Services

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 and 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, adjust, 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 needs 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 Services are available for all age groups.

Therapeutic Support for Families

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.

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.

State of Delaware Mental Health Agencies

For more information about admission, care, treatment, release, and patient follow-up in public or private psychiatric residential facilities, contact your State mental health agencies:

For Children Services:

Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services
Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families
1825 Faulkland Road
Wilmington, DE 19805
Phone: 302-633-2573
Fax: 302-633-2614
Website: https://kids.delaware.gov/prevention-and-behavioral-health-services/

For Adult Services:

Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Department of Health and Social Services
1901 North Dupont Highway
New Castle, DE 19720
Phone: 302-255-9399
Website: https://delaware.gov/

State Protection and Advocacy Agency

Each State has a protection and advocacy agency that receives funding from the Federal Center for Mental Health Services. Agencies are mandated to protect and advocate for the rights of people with mental illnesses and to investigate reports of abuse and neglect in facilities that care for or treat individuals with mental illnesses. These facilities, which may be public or private, include hospitals, nursing homes, community facilities, board and care homes, homeless shelters, jails, and prisons. Agencies provide advocacy services or conduct investigations to address issues that arise during transportation or admission to such facilities, during residency in them, or within 90 days after discharge from them.


Brian J. Hartman, Director
Disabilities Law Program
913 Washington Street, Wilmington, DE 19801
Phone: 302-575-0660
Fax: 302-575-0840

Other Advocacy Organizations or Services

Statewide consumer organizations are run by and for consumers of mental health services and promote consumer empowerment. These organizations provide information about mental health and other support services at the State level and are active in addressing and advocating for mental health system issues. For information about consumer activities in your area, contact:

Autism Delaware

Autism Delaware advocate for and supports families and individuals with autism.


Phone: 302-224-6020
Fax: 302-224-6017

New Castle County
924 Old Harmony Road
Suite 201
Newark, DE 19713

Sussex County
17517 Nassau Commons Blvd.
Unit 1
Lewes, DE 19958

Website: https://www.autismdelaware.org/

Champions for Children’s Mental Health

Champions for Children’s Mental Health is a Delaware-based, nonprofit organization offering peer support, trainings and resource information to families caring for a child/youth with mental or behavioral health needs.

Barbara Messick, Executive Director

(302) 503-7198

Delaware Disability Hub

The Delaware Disability Hub (DelDHub

Delaware Family Voices

Delaware Family Voices supports families of children and youth with special healthcare needs, helping them to navigate complex healthcare and insurance issues, as well as providing connections to resources and other families.


(877) 235-3588
(302) 669-3030
Email: familysupport@defv.org


222 Philadelphia Pike, Suite 11
Wilmington, DE 19809
Website: http://www.delawarefamilytofamily.org/

Mental Health Association

The national and local Mental Health Associations provide information on mental health issues and information as well as advocate for community programming and improved services.

National Mental Health Association Information Center
1021 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2971
Phone: 703-684-7722
Fax: 703-684-5968
Toll-free: 800-969-6642
TTY: 800-433-5959
Website: https://www.mhanational.org

Mental Health Association in Delaware
Community Services Building
100 West 10th Street, Suite 600
Wilmington, DE 19801
Phone: 302-654-6833
Kent/Sussex: (800) 287-6423
Website: https://www.mhainde.org

Email: information@mhainde.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness

The national and local organizations provide information on mental illness, community services, support groups and advocacy components.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
3803 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100 Arlington, VA 22203
Main 703-524-7600
Fax 703-524-9094
HelpLine 800-950-6264
Website: https://www.nami.org/Home

National Alliance on Mental Illness in Delaware (NAMI Delaware)
2400 W. 4th Street, Wilmington DE 19805
Phone 302-427-0787
HelpLine (888) 427-2643
Website: https://www.namidelaware.org

Email: namide@namide.org

This is a private, non profit organization funded by the U.S. and Delaware Departments of Education, State of Delaware and private and corporate gifts. PIC provides: education advocacy training for parents of children with disabilities, information on special education laws and processes, information on the rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities and disability awareness training for schools and communities. In addition, PIC sponsors a Parent-to-Parent Support program with support group meetings to help families cope with a disability in the family. PIC sponsors a statewide conference each year which focuses on issues and topics of interest to families of children with disabilities.

Parent Information Center of Delaware (Northern Delaware)
5570 Kirkwood Highway
Orchard Commons Business Center
Wilmington, DE 19808
Phone: (302) 999-7394 
FAX: (302) 999-7637
Email: picofdel@picofdel.org

Website: https://picofdel.org

Parent Information Center of Delaware (Southern Delaware)

13 Bridgeville Road
Georgetown, DE 19947
Phone: 302-856-9880
FAX: 302-856-9882
Toll-Free(in Kent County): 1-888-547-4412


Medicaid clients and their families may contact the following for advocacy assistance and information:

Delaware Medicaid Consumer Hotline: 1-800-372-2022
Health Benefits Manager: 1-800-996-9969

Other Sources of Information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) is the Federal agency that leads national efforts to improve prevention and mental health treatment services for all Americans.  SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention provide guidance and technical assistance to DPBHS to ensure quality and effective service delivery.

The National Institute of Mental Health supports national research in the prevention and treatment of mental health problems

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law maintains a “Children’s Issues” section on their website which contains information which is of interests to children and their families.

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 Mobile Response and Stabilization Services call center in this kind of emergency: 1-800-969-4357

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.

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:
In Northern Delaware, call: 800-652-2929
In Southern Delaware, call: 800-345-6785

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.

Support for Intergenerational Caregivers

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 acts as parent for the child. Relative Caregivers may legally sign consent to treat if they obtain a Relative Caregivers’ Medical Authorization Affidavit. To request an affidavit, call the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities at 1-800-223-9074 or download the affidavit here by visiting the website.