Children's Services

Provision of Services and Philosophy of Care

The Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) ensures mental and behavioral health care is available to children and youth throughout the state. Outpatient mental health services are available through certified community providers and as such, must comply with State requirements that meet nationally accepted standards for delivering services. Admission to inpatient programs of the State Mental Health System is utilized when determined necessary through an assessment process conducted by the Community Mental Health Centers.

The DBHS recognizes that in order to successfully treat children and youth, family and community involvement is key. To support this belief, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has increased department wide efforts to create and build a System of Care (SOC) that is a coordinated network providing an array of services, of which mental health is a part. To improve the mental health service delivery system for children with severe to moderate behavioral health care needs and their families, DHS SOC Wraparound Demonstration Projects sites are developing methods that are becoming standards of practices based on Wraparound principles.

Financial support for the behavioral health system comes from a variety of funding sources including Arkansas state general revenue, federal grants, Medicaid, and private insurance.

What is Behavioral Health?

Behavioral or mental health refers to how we think, feel, and act in order to face life’s situations.  It is how we look at ourselves, our lives and the people we know and care about.  Like physical health, behavioral or mental health is important at every stage of life.

What are Serious Emotional Disturbances?

The phrase, serious emotional disturbances for children and adolescents, refers to mental health problems that are severely disrupting daily life and functioning at home, at school, or in the community.  Serious emotional disturbances can affect young people at any given time.  Without help, such mental health problems can lead to school failure, alcohol or drug abuse, family discord, violence, or even suicide.

How do I get help with my Child?

For assistance with behavioral and mental health needs contact the service provider for your county. A description is provided below of types of services that are available through behavioral and mental health service providers in Arkansas. A directory of service providers is also included.

About Mental Health Service Providers:

Rehabilitative Services for Persons with Mental Illness

In order to provide rehabilitative services for persons with mental illness (RSPMI) that are funded through Medicaid providers must be certified to do so through The Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS). DBHS maintains the provider standards for and certifies organizations as eligible providers of Medicaid-funded RSPMI. The current RSPMI Certification Policy includes compliance standards and requirements for outcome monitoring of providers. RSPMI are limited to DBHS certified providers who offer core mental health services for the treatment and prevention of mental disorders.  DBHS manages the application process and compliance standards for all RSPMI and Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP) providers.  This is to assure that care and services comply with applicable laws, which require, among other things, that all care reimbursed by the Arkansas Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid) must be provided efficiently, economically, only when medically necessary, and is of a quality that meets professionally recognized standards of health care.

A DBHS certified RSPMI provider is a public or private service agency that meets DBHS RSPMI Policy standards, offers a full array of outpatient treatment services, and is eligible to bill the Arkansas Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid) for reimbursable services.  The agency must follow an application process and become certified as an RSPMI provider by the Division of Behavioral Health Services prior to applying for Medicaid provider enrollment.

An Individual mental health professional in private practice in Arkansas may apply to become a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP).  A DBHS certified LMHP provides outpatient mental health services for the Arkansas Medicaid population under the age of 21, and is eligible to bill the Arkansas Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid) for reimbursable services.  The applicant must apply and become certified as an LMHP provider by the Division of Behavioral Health Services prior to applying for Medicaid provider enrollment.

For RSPMI Certification Policy follow this link: Certification Manual for RSPMI

For RSPMI Providers follow this link: Current RSPMI Providers and All Service Sites

For more information you may contact the Division of Behavioral Health Services at 501-686-9184 and ask for RSPMI assistance.


Community Mental Health Services

The Division of Behavioral Health provides funding for the treatment of mental and behavioral health needs on an outpatient basis through Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC). Services are distributed through geographically assigned areas with one center providing care for the citizens of several adjoining counties.

The CMHCs utilize clinical criteria to determine the level of care needed in the least restrictive setting available and refer to inpatient psychiatric hospitals when needed. The DBHS provides funding of local acute care psychiatric beds for those meeting criteria in a psychiatric crisis situation allowing individuals to be treated in local communities rather than in a centralized location.

For Community Mental Health Center providers follow this link: Community Mental Health Center Providers


The Child and Adolescent Service System Program

The Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) was established in Arkansas by Act 964 of 1991 and in 2001 through Act 1517.  CASSP is based on the concept developed by the National Institute of Mental Health that focuses on the need for interagency collaboration and coordination across systems in delivering multiple services to seriously emotionally disturbed children. CASSP service teams are available throughout the state to develop multi-agency plans of care for individual children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance when the current system is not adequately meeting their needs.

For CASSP Providers follow this link: CASSP Providers

Arkansas Wraparound: A compassionate team based approach involving children, families, natural supports and professional service providers.


What is Arkansas Wraparound?

Arkansas Wraparound is a compassionate way to care for families who have complicated needs with severe to moderate behavioral health care needs. Wraparound teams are made of caring professionals, friends, and family who use Wraparound principles to meet the needs of families.

The Ten Wraparound Principles:

  • Team Based
  • Family Driven
  • Strength Based
  • Culturally Competent
  • Collaborative
  • Community Based
  • Individualized
  • Outcomes Based
  • Natural Supports
  • Persistent

Who is eligible for Arkansas Wraparound?

Wraparound is for families involved with multiple service agencies (juvenile justice, child welfare, schools, mental health etc.) who need help keeping their children or youth in the home, school or community.

Who provides Arkansas Wraparound?

Trained and certified facilitators provide Wraparounds in each community. Wraparound facilitators help families develop their Wraparound teams and make sure families have access to the services and supports they need.

What happens in Wraparound?

Although every wraparound is different, every Wraparound must have four separate and unique phases:

Engagement: The family and the Wraparound facilitator get to know one another and the family chooses the members of their Wraparound team.

Planning: The Wraparound facilitator, family and team create a Wraparound plan. The plan is based on strengths and needs of the family. The Wraparound plan uses services and supports that are traditional along with those that are creative and non-traditional such as respite, mentoring, tutoring, community activities, parent training and more.

Implementation: The Wraparound team follows the Wraparound plan and meets regularly to review the progress and to update the Wraparound plan.

Transition: The family is empowered and is able to get the services and supports they need in their community, school, and home.

For Wraparound Providers follow this link: AR System of Care Service Providers

Services for Persons with Particular Needs

Special Needs Resulting from a Natural Disaster

Assistance and consultation services are made available to local providers in the event of a disaster.  If a Presidential Disaster Declaration is received for the State, and the Division determines that the behavioral health needs of the disaster victims are beyond the capacity of State and local resources, the Division may choose to apply for a Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Services most frequently funded include individual and group crisis counseling, education services, and referrals. 

Special Needs due to Homelessness

Housing status is routinely assessed on entry into the public mental health system.  Some providers directly provide housing resources, while some facilitate efforts with other entities.  Some providers aggressively seek to obtain housing options for their clients through HUD housing programs.  The DBHS is the recipient of the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) grant to provide services to persons with a serious mental illness and or have a co-occurring substance use disorder who are either homeless or are at risk of homelessness. 

Special Needs for persons qualifying for SSI or SSDI

SOAR, or SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access & Recovery, is a federal technical assistance initiative designed to help states and communities increase access to disability benefits for qualified persons who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, especially those who have a mental illness and/or co-occurring substance use disorder.  The Division provides free training and technical assistance to providers in SSA disability programs and benefits, interviewing, engaging the client, the application process, etc. and serves as liaison with the Social Security Administration and Disability Determination Services.  Obtaining SSI and SSDI can be critical in preventing and ending homelessness, providing access to treatment, services, and promoting recovery. 


Additional Information

Financial Sustainability

Children’s Services is responsible to apply for appropriate grants and the development and management of those that are awarded as well as working with providers to develop community supports and managing processes to reduce health care costs.

Training and Technical Assistance

Children’s Services manages contracts with community providers to provide particular services based on established standards and models. To ensure the fidelity of such services technical assistance is provided by the Children’s Services staff on a continuous basis.

Special training sessions are held throughout the year for caregivers with nationally known children’s mental health professionals presenting valuable information to increase knowledge and skills of the mental health workforce.

Research and training opportunities are also available through the Arkansas Research and Training Institute. DBHS collaborates with community providers and various training schools to promote the use of state-of-the-art practices.  The Arkansas Research and Training Institute has consultation teams available to assist providers with innovative treatment approaches.

Related Websites

Click for Link
The Arkansas Children’s Behavioral Health Care Commission
National Wraparound initiative
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
ArKids First
Youth M.O.V.E. National
Youth M.O.V.E. Arkansas
Arkansas Suicide Prevention Network


To Contact the Division of Behavioral Health Children’s Services by telephone please call 501-686-9164 and ask for Children’s Services
Mailing Address:
The Division of Behavioral Health Services
Children’s Services
305 S. Palm Street
Little Rock, AR 72205

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