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Home » Mental Health Services » Children / Adolescents

Resources for School-age Children (including IEPs & 504 Plans)

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Resources for School-age Children and Adolescents


Accessing Behavioral Health Care Child and Youth Services

Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (ACBHCS) is the lead agency providing coordination of mental health treatment in Alameda County.

ACBHCS Child and Youth Services offers programs that enable children with mental health support needs, including those with Serious Emotional Disorders (SED), to access treatment and support. Services are primarily provided for children on Medi-Cal or who are medically indigent.

To look into obtaining Alameda County Behavioral Health referrals and services, call their ACCESS 24-hour Hotline:  (800) 491-9099

The populations served include:

* Young children and youth in the community who have mental health disorders

* Children receiving special education services who have been referred by the schools to receive mental health services under AB 3632 (see below for more information about this)

* Children in psychiatric inpatient facilities, and

* Dependents of the juvenile court with mental health needs.

(The above is an excerpt from ACBHCS "Mental Health Services for Children" manual). Click here to view the entire Manual, which includes information on:

Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) - Medi-Cal EPSDT is an entitlement for children, 0 up to age 21, who are Medi-Cal eligible. It is designed to provide comprehensive mental health services that can correct or ameliorate mental health problems. These services often include coordination, case management, and an approach which includes family and other providers in the treatment plan.

Alameda County BHCS recently expanded EPSDT, increasing the amount of services billable under EPSDT and expanding the number of agencies in the County able to provide these services. The following target populations now have increased mental health services under EPSDT: • children birth to five • children in foster care • children with dual diagnosis of substance use and mental illness • school-based services.  A quick explanation of Screening, Assessment, Referral & Treatment (SART) with process chart is here.  The quick guide for medical, mental health and developmental disability providers is here.

Agencies utilizing EPSDT funding are generally able to take direct referrals from primary care providers of children with full-scope Medi-Cal. You can call ACCESS to get listings of participating programs. For 0-5 year olds, you can find an Interagency Referral Guide here.

RESOURCES for Alameda County:

The Alameda County Committee on Children with Special Needs has put together a resource handbook at 250 pages called Resources for Children with Special Health Care Needs and their Families for the families of children with special health care needs.  They had input and help from Lucille Packard Children's Hospital, Every Child Counts, First 5 Alameda County, Alameda County Public Health among others.


Referrals for EPSDT mental health services can be made through ACCESS or by calling the agency directly.  Eligibility rules differ from provider to provider.  Check to see how the referral needs to be made.  Call the agency or program directly for information if how to refer is unclear.


(800) 491-9099 ACCESS / Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services 24-Hour Hotline

Healthy Families Program which provides two mental health benefits:

1) Basic Mental Health services for children who do not have a SED (serious emotional disturbance) diagnoses and

2) Drug/Alcohol Treatment services


Coping with Loss and Grief - The East Bay Agency for Children (EBAC) has family oriented support and counseling for families experiencing the illness or loss of a child/sibling or for children experiencing the illness or loss of a family member.  A description of the EBAC Circle of Care may be found here and the individual counseling services for loss, bereavement, and trauma are here.  The support groups for children and adults with children suffer through a family member's serious illness here (and in Spanish) and with a sudden loss here (and in Spanish).

Definition of important terms:

Special Education Program - AB 3632 This program combines educational and other mental health services to students in an inter-agency model through the school district. This program is available to students who are receiving special education services and have been determined to be in need of mental health treatment in order to benefit from their education.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) means a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in meetings between the parent and the IEP Team.  In California the IEP covers specific learning disabilities defined by the state.  The IEP must include:

    • A statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.
    • A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to:
-  Meet the child's needs that result from the child's disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum;

-  Meet each of the child's other educational needs that result from the child's disability.

504 Plan: Section 504 requires schools to provide to students with disabilities appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual needs of such students to the same extent as the needs of students without disabilities are met.  An appropriate education for a student with a disability under the Section 504 regulations could consist of education in regular classrooms, education in regular classes with supplementary services, and/or special education and related services.  The 504 plan covers some disabilities that are not covered by the IEP.


Here are some additional Resources to support school age children, especially with respect to the Individual Education Program (IEPs) and 504 Plans:

The US Department of Education Office for civil rights - and its explanation of 504 and IEP plans.  They also have an official Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEAwebsite.

The Community Alliance for Special Education has 13 separate chapters of a HANDBOOK on the special education process in the pdf format.

United Advocates for Children and Families whose mission is to improve the quality of life for all children and youth with mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges and to eliminate institutional discrimination and social stigma. They offer Parent Partner Direst Services: partnering with Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services to provide encouragement and support to families receiving mental health services. Through personal experiences and professional training, UACF helps families to navigate the various child-serving systems in the county which can include, Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, as well as Special Education services.  They also provide support by educating families and the community about mental health and help in reducing mental health stigma.

Click here to go directly to UACF's Parent / Caregiver resource Center.

East Bay Agency for Children which offers specialized therapeutic and educaitnal services, school and community-based prevention programs, and student and family support services, among other services.

Family Resource Network of Oakland - providing resources and support to families of children with disabilities in Alameda County.

Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund - parent training and information center - serving families of children and young adults with all disabilities: physical, cognitive, emotional and learning.

California Department of Education has a description of how the CDE organizes special education with the help of the Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPA) here.  The SELPAs allow parents to see how the schools are implementing the IDEA locally.  Alameda County SELPAs are listed by district here along with contact numbers.

The American Acadamy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry is especially rich in information for families.  There are Resource Centers for each diagnosis.  A zipped file with 96 chapters of general information including three about psychoactive medication use in children is on this page in English, Spanish and other languages.

The National Institute of Mental Health offers general information on mental health issues among children and adolescents.  There are publications, research results and access to current clinical trials.

The American Acadamy of Pediatrics has a matrix of disorders and the quality of different interventions in a table of Evidence-Based Child & Adolescent Psychosocial Interventions.

Day treatment

Day Treatment services for children and youth are provided through a wide variety of programs determines by such things as age, type and legal status of the child, as well as by the referral process.

Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services has a Manual describing their formal Placement Authorization Procedures for children's day treatment including information on the process for accessing AB3632 resources.


Children and Youth Hotlines:

- California Youth Crisis Line     800-843-5200

- Children in immediate risk or danger  800-843-5678

- Covenant House Nineline   800-999-9999

- Kid Help   800-543-7283

- National Youth Crisis Hotline   800-448-4663

- Youth Crisis Hotline information and referral for youth in crisis    800-448-4663

*Parent Resources:

National Parent Helpline   855-427-2736  (especially for young parents)



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