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


Image of PBHS service continuum - prevention, early intervention, behavioral health treatment (least to mid-level intensive)
and behavioral health treatment (most intensive)

Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF)

Drawing of a cartoon mother, father, two children, and a cat

The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF) is a community-based family support and preservation program which provides consultation services to families who are “at risk or in crisis” due to one or a combination of stressors that may lead to child maltreatment. These services are provided statewide.

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition (DFFC)

Child sitting on his father's shoulders and covering his eyes

The Delaware Family and Fatherhood Coalition (DFFC) is an extension of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program. DFFC fatherhood initiative is a shared collaborative addressing responsible fatherhood and healthy adult relationships as it pertains to effective co-parenting. The coalition connects multiple sectors of the community in a comprehensive approach, continuously develops partners, providing training opportunity to infusion fatherhood service into existing children and family services.

Helping Hands Community Awareness Project (HHCAP)

HHCAP helps families build healthy family relationships, strengthen caregiver skills, and promote positive behavior in children. The program is designed to prevent child maltreatment by increasing protective factors and promoting resilience in high-risk families living in high-risk communities.

Intensive Family Consultation (IFC)

Intensive Family Consultation (IFC) is a family support service that uses a one-on-one interactive consultation approach to provide supportive services to families who are experiencing an array of needs or stressors.

Separating and Divorcing Parent Education Program (SDPE)

Delaware mandates divorcing parents with children up to age 17 to attend a parenting education course. The goal of these courses is to educate parents of the effects of divorce/separation on children and to help both parents minimize the harmful effects of divorce on their children, whenever possible. DPBHS certifies providers of these courses. In-person and online courses offered.

Substance Abuse Block Grant (SABG)

Drug Awareness and Prevention logo

The Substance Abuse Block Grant (SABG) allows DPBHS to contract with community partners to offer evidence-based substance misuse prevention strategies in community centers, schools, and other youth-serving organizations. <3>After School Program

DPBHS funds several after school and summer programs throughout the state. This includes funding to extend the operating hours of select community centers in the City of Wilmington to provide youth more time in safe, structured, activities that promote positive social connection.

Youth Response Unit (YRU)

The City of Wilmington’s Youth Response Unit (YRU) is a collaboration with the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services. The unit is comprised of specially trained, qualified therapists working in partnership with the Wilmington Police Department’s (WPD) officers and Victims Services Unit. The purpose of this unit is to identify children who have been impacted by violence and trauma and intervene as quickly as possible to promote resiliency and healing. In addition to individualized trauma response and treatment, YRU offers education, support and resources to children, families and the community as they cope with varying forms of trauma.

The Prevention Resource Center (PRC) holds a collection of psycho-educational materials including books, research and science-based curriculums, videos and DVDs that are available for loan. In addition, the Resource Center distributes informational brochures and pamphlets to the public that focus on substance abuse, violence, child abuse and neglect prevention as well as other related issues, such as, mental health and juvenile justice issues. 

There are two ways to order:

  1. Submit an online PRC Pamphlet Order Form.
  2. Download the PRC Pamphlet Order Form (PDF), fill out the information as instructed then fax, e-mail, or call in your order.

PRC will accept orders Monday through Friday. Orders will be processed and shipped on Wednesday and Friday. Please allow 3-5 business days for delivery.

Contact Information:

  • Telephone: 302-633-2586 or 302-633-2513
  • Fax: 302-622-4475
  • Email: PBHS_Resource_Center@delaware.gov

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

Outpatient Services Counseling for Less Urgent Problems

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.

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

Outpatient Services Help for More Intense Behavioral Health Problems

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 1-800-722-7710 to request more intensive services for your child.

What Will Happen When You Call

An access 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 challenges may be related to the stress. In other cases, challenges may have existed for a long time and may be harder to manage.

Your family will be assigned to a Child and Family Care Coordination Team when your case has been accepted.

Child & Family Care Coordination Teams (CFCC) and How They Help

Our Child & Family Care Coordination Unit will try to match your child/youth and family to a care coordinator who will work best with your family. Your care coordinator will call to set up the first meeting to discuss their role and the CFCCT. This meeting, and all future meetings, should be scheduled at a time and place that works best for you.

Your care coordinator is the person who will partner with you to identify your family’s strengths and needs. You will be asked to fill out some forms at the beginning and at other times while you are receiving services. This will help us show you progress your child is making and how needs have changed. Next, your care coordinator will help you put together your Child and Family Care Coordination Team. This Team includes people who are important to your family. The Child and Family Care Coordination Team will work with you to design a “Plan of Care” within the first 30 days after enrollment.

Your care coordinator will collaborate with staff 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.

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).

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.

Service Providers:

  • CORAS Wellness & Behavioral Health
  • Delaware Guidance Services
  • Devereux Community Services

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.

Service Providers:

  • Autism Delaware
  • Champions for Children’s Mental Health – 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.

Service Providers:

  • Cayuga Centers
  • Children and Families First
  • Vision Quest

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.

Service Provider: A Center for Mental Wellness

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.

Service Providers:

  • A Center for Mental Wellness
  • A Seed of Hope Counseling Center
  • Coastal Counseling and Consulting Services LLC
  • CORAS Wellness & Behavioral Health
  • Creative Change Counseling
  • Delaware Guidance Services
  • Devereux Community Services
  • Jewish Family Services
  • Journey Wellness and Consulting Group
  • Journeys, LLC
  • Kaleidoscope Family Solutions
  • New Behavioral Network
  • NorthNode Group Counseling
  • Synergy Consulting and Psychotherapy Practice
  • Your Center, LLC

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.

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services operates two residential facilities:

Silver Lake Treatment Consortium and Terry Children’s Center. The Silver Lake Treatment Consortium offers residential based treatment services for up to 16 adolescents ages 12–17 years old and has separate gender-specific facilities. The Terry Children’s Center offers residential based treatment services for a maximum of 10 children ranging in age from 6 – 13 years and bed-based crisis stabilization services for up to 6 children ranging in age from 6 – 17 years.

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.

Service Providers:

  • A Center for Mental Wellness
  • A Seed of Hope Counseling Center
  • Coastal Counseling and Consulting Services LLC
  • Creative Change Counseling
  • Delaware Guidance Services
  • Jewish Family Services
  • Journey Wellness and Consulting Group
  • Journeys, LLC
  • Kaleidoscope Family Solutions
  • New Behavioral Network
  • NorthNode Group Counseling
  • Synergy Consulting and Psychotherapy Practice
  • Your Center, LLC