The Department of Mental Health’s Children’s Office’s goal is to support new and ongoing efforts to improve the lives of Missouri’s children and families. The Children’s Office team provides education to those within and outside the department’s system on best practices and promising new interventions; seeks to innovative in using resources, including funding streams, professional staff and partners to more effectively address the needs of children and families; and collaborate with other child and family-serving agencies to address the chronic mental health, developmental and relationship challenges from early childhood through transition aged youth.
- Children's Services Team Members
Children’s Services Director
Dr. Cla Stearns
Interdivisional Children’s Services Coordinator
Early Childhood Wellness Expert
Director of Young Adult Services
Division of Behavioral Health
Deputy Director for Community Operations
Chief of Children’s Community Operations - Metro East Region
Chief of Children’s Community Operations - Eastern Region
Chief of Children’s Community Operations - Western Region
Division of Developmental Disabilities
Statewide Support Coordination Specialist
Statewide Support Coordination Specialist
- Children's Services
Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Services
Missouri's Early Care & Education Connections is a central place for families and professionals to access resources and information about what young children need from the Early Care & Education (ECE) system. They help families provide safe environments for their children, engage families in their children’s health and development and bring services for children and families together across the state.
Child and Adolescent
Child and Adolescent Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Teams are at several provider locations. DBT is an evidence-based therapy which has been implemented successfully to treat individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, self-harming behaviors, aggressive behaviors, and difficulties regulating their emotions. This initiative seeks to expand this evidence-based service to additional providers. There are currently Adolescent DBT teams at four provider locations: Ozark Center, Tri-County Mental Health, Compass and North Central MO Mental Health Center.
Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Programs (CPRP) for children and youth follow a person-centered approach that emphasizes individual choices and needs. CPRPs feature flexible community-based services and supports. The program provides an array of key services to persons with severe, disabling mental illnesses while remaining in the community. Services include evaluations, crisis intervention, community support, medication management, and psychosocial rehabilitation. Missouri has 22 providers throughout the state, with each county having at least one designated agency to provide CPRP services to children and youth.
- Antidepressant and Antianxiety Webinar - YouTube
- Antipsychotic and Mood Stabilizer Webinar - YouTube
Comprehensive Substance Treatment and Rehabilitation (CSTAR) Program provides substance use treatment for specialized programs for adolescents, women and children, adult general population, and opioid use disorders. The adolescent program provides treatment, rehabilitation, and other services solely to clients between the ages of 12–17 years inclusive of their families. The program addresses therapeutic issues relevant to adolescents and shall address their specific needs including groups specifically for adolescents and have staff with experience and training in the provision of services for adolescents with substance use disorders. Missouri has seven providers with 72 sites throughout the state of Missouri and provides substance use treatment services to over 2000 youth annually.
Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) Healthcare Homes (HCH) are designed to integrate care for individuals with chronic health conditions into the behavioral health setting. CMHC HCH functions include but are not limited to: providing psychiatric rehabilitation, ensuring access to primary and specialty care, diverting inappropriate ER visits, coordinating post hospitalization care, and using health information technology to monitor for care management gaps. CMHC HCHs educate and support individuals in managing chronic health conditions, healthcare needs, and intervene when health conditions are not properly controlled or managed. HCHs promote and encourage wellness, healthy lifestyles and preventative care.
- DMH has received approval from CMS to recognize Complex Trauma as an eligible chronic health condition and risk factor for youth enrollment into provider Health Care Homes. Missouri is the second state in the US that will enroll youth into Health Care Homes to help manage behavioral health, physical health, and developmental disability around early trauma exposure. In addition, the DMH has transitioned the Health Care Homes Primary Care Physician Consultant to the Specialized Healthcare Consultant. Transitioning to a Specialized Healthcare Consultant will allow Health Care Homes flexibility in offering additional consultation from a variety of healthcare professionals for special populations, including children and adolescents
A System of Care is a comprehensive spectrum of effective services and supports for children, youth, and young adults with or at risk for mental health or other challenges and their families that is organized into a coordinated network of care, builds meaningful partnerships with families and youth, and is culturally and linguistically responsive in order to help them to thrive at home, in school, in the community, and throughout life. A system of care incorporates mental health promotion, prevention, early identification, and early intervention in addition to treatment to address the needs of all children, youth, and young adults.
Behavioral Health Crisis Centers (BHCCs) divert individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis that come to the attention of law enforcement away from jails or hospitals. Two of the 17 BHCCs in Missouri currently serve youth and two providers will expand operations in the upcoming year:
- BHCCs are currently operational at the following locations:
- BJC (SSM DePaul Campus) in Bridgeton (STL Metro) serves youth age five and older
- Ozark Center (Urgent Behavioral Solutions) in Joplin serves youth age 16 and older
- BHCCs expected to open by July 2022 include:
- Family Counseling Center in Poplar Bluff will serve youth age 12 and older
- Family Guidance Center in St. Joseph will serve youth age five and older
Youth Emergency Room Enhancement DMH provides funding for Behavioral Health Network’s implementation of the Youth Emergency Room Enhancement Project in the St. Louis Region. Youth Emergency Room Enhancement Project (YERE) started in October 2017 and facilitates an integrated 24/7 region-wide approach by expanding the scope of BHN's other successful Hospital Community Linkages (HCL) initiatives to transition youth from hospital to community care. The project's primary goals are to improve access to community behavioral health care, reduce preventable hospital contacts or readmissions, and improve youth's quality of life. The YERE Team performs focused outreach services and connects eligible youth ages 6-17 and their caregivers to ongoing community-based behavioral and other services.
Hawthorn’s Children’s Psychiatric Hospital is the only free-standing children’s inpatient psychiatric facility within the Department of Mental Health in the State of Missouri. Hawthorn provides comprehensive mental health treatment to children and adolescents who are residents of Missouri and who are experiencing an acute mental disorder or who are severely emotionally disturbed. Hawthorn is comprised of an Inpatient Program and a Residential Program.
Community Counseling Center operates Cottonwood Residential Treatment Center, a 16-Bed Residential Treatment Facility serving children and adolescent patients located in Cape Girardeau, MO. The program is intended for youth 6-17 years of age and offers an intensive residential treatment environment as an alternative to hospitalization. Services include psychiatry, individual and group therapy, recreational therapy, nursing and medical services, family therapy and family services. In cooperation with the Cape Girardeau Public Schools, on-site educational services are provided.
Treatment Family Home (TFH) is a treatment service provided through DBH providers. Youth are provided services by trained and qualified profession treatment parents with the goal of reuniting children with families in a home-like setting in the community. Up to three youth may be served at a single treatment family home location.
Missouri Alliance for Dual Diagnosis (MOADD) is a collaborative effort between clinicians, private and contracted providers and Department of Mental Health staff to build provider capacity and promote best practices for individuals with a co-occurring diagnosis (intellectual/developmental disability and behavioral health).
Young Adult Services
Intensive Residential Treatment Services (IRTS) Programs for Transition Age Youth (ages 16-25). These programs will serve youth who exhibit behavior like self-harm and aggression and who have recently exited the juvenile justice system and/or foster care system.
ACT-TAY (Assertive Community Treatment for Transition Age Youth) Teams are located at ten providers across the state. ACT-TAY Teams serve youth ages 16-25 who have avoided or not responded well to traditional outpatient mental health services and psychiatric rehabilitation services. Individuals served by ACT-TAY teams often have co-existing problems such as homelessness, substance use problems, or involvement with the criminal justice system. 300 transition age youth are currently served by these teams.
- School-Based Prevention Initiatives
DMH providers have partnered with Missouri’s school districts to provide school-based support to youth. Most CCBHOs/CMHCs have partnered with their local school districts to provide a school liaison or school-based within their local schools.
Community Counseling Center operates a stand-alone day treatment center while programs operated by providers within schools exist in St. Genevieve, Jackson, Farmington and Park Hills. The success of these programs is encouraging other providers to build similar programs.
Since 2002, DMH has supported SPIRIT (School-Based Prevention Intervention and Resources Initiative) to target high-risk youth and provide early intervention activities to reduce risk factors and promote protective factors that may minimize substance use problems in youth. SPIRIT is provided by four contracted agencies in 13 school districts in Missouri. Evidence-based programming is provided at each school.
Ten DMH Prevention Resource Centers (PRC) provide substance use prevention education to youth in the school and community setting. They provide Youth Mental Health First Aid and Signs of Suicide trainings to schools, who then implement with the youth. The PRCs include the following:
- Preferred Family Healthcare
- Community Partnership of the Ozarks
- Compass Health
- First Call Alcohol/Drug Prevention and Recovery
- Tri-County Mental Health Services
- SEMO Behavioral Health
- Southeast Missouri State University
- CC Behavioral Health
- Prevention Consultants of MO
ReDiscover is providing suicide specific treatment and follow-up for youth at-risk of suicide, as well as services and training for K-12 schools in the greater Kansas City area. They have a Youth Suicide Prevention Team that provides outreach, screening, intervention, care coordination, and follow-up services for youth at risk of suicide.
Teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA), a mental health promotion curriculum created for 10th-12th graders, is being implemented in 16 school districts during academic year 2021-22. Ten percent of school personnel are required to be trained in Mental Health First Aid (MFHA) or Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) in order to be eligible for this training. Funded by SAMHSA and the Disaster Response State Grant. Participating school districts are located in Callaway, Chariton, Jackson, Jefferson, Miller, Newton, Pike, Saline and St. Charles counties.
After School Mentoring Services Programs
MO Alliance of Boys & Girls Club (14 sites across MO) implements SMART Moves, national acclaimed, comprehensive prevention program that helps young people 6 through 15 learn to resist alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and avoid premature sexual activity; Meth SMART, comprehensive, multi-pronged approach that is an extension of the SMART Moves prevention program that focuses more on Methamphetamine; and the Positive Action Curriculum, a social emotional learning program for children in late childhood to early adolescence (ages 5-14) focused on reducing drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri provides mentoring services for predominately high-risk African American males that attend Loyola Academy private Jesuit middle school,, Lyon Academy at Blow Elementary School in the St. Louis City Public School District, , and identified schools in the University City School District in St. Louis County.
Community Partnership of the Ozarks and PreventEd provides the Generation Rx Program to middle and high school youth throughout targeted areas in St. Louis, Greene County, Taney County, Shannon County and Howell County. The focus of the program is on opioid use.
Burrell Center implements Too Good for Drugs and Too Good for Violence in Springfield and Branson school districts in grades k-8. Participants are identified by a teacher, counselor, parent, and/or a principal and referred to the prevention groups with parent/guardian permission.
Lincoln University implements the Youth Development/Kid’s Beat Program targeting high-risk youth aged 4-18 in the Missouri Bootheel. Targeted prevention activities are designed to promote leadership development, conflict resolution, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships, as well as acquisition and application of knowledge and resources for substance use prevention.
- Family and Peer Support
Family Support Services are provided by a trained Family Support Provider for a family member of a child who had or currently has a behavioral or emotional disturbance disorder and may involve a variety of related activities to the development or enhancement of the service delivery system. Nearly 300 Family Support Providers across the state engage in activities with families that may include, but are not limited to, problem solving skills, emotional support, disseminating information, linking to services and parent-to-parent guidance.
Youth Peer Support services are provided by a trained Youth Peer Specialists. A Youth Peer Specialist (YPS) works with young people to help them navigate the mental health service system. Using lived experience, the YPS supports young people in having hope for the future. They are a role model for the young person who can help normalize feelings such as alienation, fear, and loneliness. Strategically sharing their own experience with the mental health service system, the YPS helps the young person set goals, encourages them to get the most from treatment, helps them to connect to other young people who are also receiving treatment, and learn skills that aid them in resilience and independence. They support the young person as they develop their voice and become their own advocate.
- Policies and Practices
- Children's Mental Health Week
Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW) is a week in early May dedicated to children’s mental health. The goal is to increase public awareness about children’s mental health; emphasize the importance of family involvement in the children’s mental health movement; and to promote positive mental health, well-being, and social development for all children and youth. Learn more.
- Special Initiatives
Youth Behavioral Heath Liaison - The Youth Behavioral Health Liaison (YBHL) is a mental health professional who forms local community partnerships with various youth-serving organizations to address behavioral health needs of vulnerable children and youth. YBHL’s function as service connectors for youth with substance use and/or mental health concerns to link them to services available through community partners. A primary goal of establishing YBHL’s is to form better community partnerships between Certified Community Behavioral Health Organizations and other behavioral health treatment providers, Division of Developmental Disability providers/regional offices, Juvenile Offices, Children’s Division, family courts, schools and hospitals to help improve outcomes for youth with behavioral health needs. YBHL’s work to divert youth from inpatient hospitalization and out-of-home placements such as residential treatment centers and juvenile detention, while supporting youth in natural family and/or community-based setting.
Collaborations with State Partners
Receiving Early Access to Caring Helpers - Receiving Early Access to Caring Helpers (REACH) is a collaborative pilot program between the DMH, the Department of Social Services, and the Missouri Behavioral Health Council. REACH uses Family Support Provider (FSP) services to help relative, kinship and foster placement providers get access to mental health services for themselves and children and youth placed in their home. The referral can link the family for mental health services but also provides assistance to the caregiver by an individual with lived experience. REACH helps children remain in their placements with fewer disruptions and allows caregiver connections to peer-to-peer support that promote caregiver wellness and family stabilization.
Independent Assessment - The Independent Assessment (IA) is a collaboration between the DMH, the Department of Social Services, and the Missouri Behavioral Health Council to provide clinical assessment for a child in foster care prior to their placement in residential treatment. These requirements come from the Family First Prevention and Services Act which requires an independent assessment by a qualified individual to determine if placement in a family setting or residential is the most effective and appropriate option to meet the needs of youth in foster care. The assessors use the Child and Adolescent Strength and Needs (CANS) tool as part of their clinical assessment. The assessment once completed is returned to DSS and filed with the juvenile court where official findings are made.