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Behavioral Health Menu

Child and Adolescent Mental Health  Services

Our Mission

To work with families and communities to help youth stay at home, in school, and out of trouble. We strive to provide strength based, culturally appropriate, comprehensive community based mental health services using a flexible "whatever it takes" approach to help families achieve their own positive outcome.

About Our Services

We serve eligible youth who are at risk for out of home placement with serious emotional disturbances. The goals of service are to help families achieve positive outcomes, reduce out of home placements, maintain family and foster care stability, and decrease the return to Juvenile Hall, psychiatric hospitalization, and out of home placement.

Services include assessment, individual, family, and group therapy, school based day treatment, family support, and evaluation for psychiatric hospitalization. Services are located at multiple school and community sites.

We Strive To

  • Build on family's and children's strength
  • Be culturally competent
  • Work in partnership with youth and families
  • Focus on the major systems in the family's life.
  • Build support systems.
  • Be action oriented, practical.
  • Be developmentally appropriate.
  • Be home and community based.
  • Offer services at flexible times.
  • Value creativity to find positive solutions.
  • Evaluate our services and continually improve.

How to Get Help

To receive mental health services the first step is to contact the Access Team. This team provides information and referrals for mental health services for all children who reside in Santa Cruz County who have MediCal. If eligible you will be screened for direct county mental health services or given outpatient or community agency services based on your situation.

If your child is currently involved with probation, social services, or special education talk to your probation worker, case worker, or school psychologist. They can refer eligible youth directly to Children's Mental Health.

If You are Having a Crisis

If you, or someone you know, are in imminent danger and need immediate help you should always call 911. If you are not in immanent danger but need immediate crisis support call (800) 952-2335 24-hours a day. This is available to all Santa Cruz County children to assess for hospitalization in a psychiatric crisis.


A Parent's Guide to Psychiatric Hospitalizations of Minors* English  Spanish
An informational booklet designed by County of Santa Cruz Behavioral Health.
*Copies of this booklet are available at the Crisis Stabilization Program where youth are seen for hospital evaluation


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Programs

Child and adolescent mental health services are divided into two basic delivery structures based on the needs and treatment goals for the individual receiving services:

  • System of Care (SOC) services are provided by County Mental Health/ Substance Abuse Services as part of a comprehensive interagency network serving children, youth & families involved with Juvenile Probation, Social Services, Education, and other youth at risk of out of home placement in the community.
  • Early & Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, & Treatment (EPSDT) provides supportive mental health and dual diagnosis services to Medi-Cal beneficiaries aged 0-21, and their families. Services are targeted to help eligible children & youth meet developmental milestones and function successfully at home, school, and in the community. The EPSDT providers identified below serve as community gates into Mental Health Medi-Cal services for eligible beneficiaries.

Targeted System of Care Services

The following County programs provide targeted System of Care services in conjunction with interagency partners, as described by the four Gateways into services. In addition, related Contractors who participate in providing System of Care and/or EPSDT counseling services are also listed below.

Probation Programs

  • Family Solutions (SB 163 Wraparound Program) is a program which seeks to strengthen families so that youth who are at imminent risk for out of home placement may continue living at home, with their families and in their communities. By using innovative and non-traditional approaches to case planning and service delivery, families become central to all decision-making and professional services support the family's vision for success. Family Solutions is a partnership between the Probation Department, Children's Mental Health/Substance Abuse, and the Family Partnership Program. This is a County SOC program.
  • Intensive Outpatient and case management program is for juvenile probation youth at risk of out of home placement. Services are provided as part of an interagency team with the Probation Department, providing an alternate service modality that emphasizes individualized care approaches, particularly for older youth on an emancipation track, and for families unable to participate in an extensive family-driven Wraparound planning process. This is a County SOC program.
  • Evening Center program is a collaborative between the Probation Department and Children's Mental Health/Substance Abuse. The Evening Center is one of several detention alternatives in probation's continuum of services designed to serve as an immediate response for probation involved youth who are struggling with mental health/substance abuse problems, failing to comply with conditions of probation and/or as a response to new law violations. The program operates from 4-8 pm Monday-Friday and includes focused treatment programming. Each Saturday youth participate in a community work project. Transportation is provided to and from the program and meals are served each evening.
  • Juvenile Hall Mental Health/Substance Abuse Services provides crisis, assessment, brief treatment and mental health/substance abuse education for youth detained in Juvenile Hall. This is a County SOC program.
  • Probation Programs and Initiatives is a link to a complete list of grants, projects and collaboratives for the Santa Cruz County Probation Department.

Social Service Programs

  • Supportive Intervention Services (SIS) for children/youth under 18 years of age who have been placed into foster care or group homes, or are at imminent risk of placement. Family reunification is an important goal, as well as maintaining foster home placement stability. This is a County SOC program.
  • Supportive Adolescent Services (SAS) for youth between the ages of 14 and 21 years of age. The goal of this program is for youth to reconnect with family, develop independent living skills, community supports, and prepare for transition to adulthood. This is a County SOC program.
  • Transition-Age Services for Foster Youth (THPP/ILSP) are provided by Community Support Services (part of the Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center), which focuses on assisting with housing and related support services for social service and probation youth aging out of the system. This is a County SOC program.
  • Crossroads is a short-term home for foster youth in crisis and/or transition.
  • Parents Center provides counseling to children & families referred from social services, as well as by the community. This is a Contract SOC & EPSDT program.
  • Encompass - Families Together is a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary team of services providers helping families at risk for child abuse and neglect in Santa Cruz County.
  • Child Welfare Services - The Human Services Agency provides child welfare services to children who have been abused, neglected, or who are at risk of abuse or neglect.

School Treatment Programs

  • Intensive & Regular Outpatient services are provided to eligible Special Education students referred by local school districts who contract with Mental Health. Services are provided as part of several classrooms for emotionally disturbed (ED) students operated by the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. Additional services are provided to eligible students at their home schools. These are County SOC program offered in conjunction with the schools.
  • Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) /Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) PVUSD SELPA oversees and facilitates educational services for students with disabilities in the PVUSD. PVUSD is a single district SELPA.
  • North County SELPA The interdependent and diverse school districts in the North Santa Cruz County SELPA are committed to serving special education students, by providing equal access to resources and a comprehensive education.  The North County SELPA school districts and the County Office of Education currently provide their own counseling services to eligible Special Education pupils.

Community Programs

  • Community Gate offers intensive outpatient and wraparound services for youth with serious emotional disturbances who are at risk of out of home placement. This is a County SOC program.
  • Family Partnership Program is a parent-run program (operated by the Volunteer Bureau) which provides peer support, education, services and advocacy for families within our system of care. This is a Contract SOC program.
  • Encompass - Youth Services provides a variety of mental health and substance abuse outpatient services, which function as early intervention and/or "step-down" from more intensive system of care services. These are Contract EPSDT programs. These include:
    • Counseling services at the Youth Services offices, at school and in the community.
    • YES Recovery High School helps students establish and maintain a clean and sober lifestyle.
    • Escuela Quetzal High School provides support services to help students make positive changes in their lives.
    • Tyler House provides residential substance abuse treatment for teens.
  • Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance (PVPSA) provides counseling services to students in the Pajaro school district, as well as probation-related services. This is a Contract EPSDT program.
  • Family Service Agency (FSA) provides counseling services to north and south county children, youth and families. This is a Contract EPSDT program.

How to Receive Mental Health Services

For information about making a referral to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program

How to Receive
Mental Health Services

(800) 952-2335
(831) 454-4900
1400 Emeline Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 763-8200
1430 Freedom Blvd., Suite B
Watsonville, CA 95076

How to Get Help
Crisis Services

Web Resources

Community Information Database (CID) - Santa Cruz county human services resource guide.

Mental Health Web Links


Children's System of Care - 23-Year Report

RWJ Reclaiming Futures in Santa Cruz County - Key Findings Report

Leveraging Change in Santa Cruz County Children's System of Care - USF Site Report for Case Studies of System Implementation