Office of Child and Adolescent Services

The Office of Child and Adolescent Services (OCAS) is responsible for planning, monitoring for program compliance, and building partnerships to ensure the delivery of mental health services to children and their families within the Public Mental Health System.  The office works closely with other child-serving agencies and the core service agencies to improve access and coordination of care for this population.

The Office, with its partners and stakeholders, provides leadership, expertise and guidance to promote wellness, prevention and resiliency in all child and adolescent mental health.  These efforts range from universal prevention programs to the most intense levels of care in every jurisdiction.  As Maryland continues to grow its System of Care – imbued with core values of being child-centered, family- and youth-driven, community-based, and culturally and linguistically competent – its role becomes even more important to the future of Maryland’s children.

A Blueprint Committee for Children’s Mental Health serves as an advisory committee to MHA on its provision of child and adolescent services.

This standing Blueprint Committee enables stakeholders to keep informed, and help create a system of mental health services that are based on the best data and knowledge in the field, while also being flexible enough to adapt to changing trends and demographics.
The committee also supports the work of the OCAS through a subcommittee structure that helps to meet a number of goals. The subcommittees include staff of the OCAS and their partners in other child-serving departments.  Together they assist in realizing many of the goals outlined in the Blueprint for Children’s Mental Health which was originally developed in March 2003.

Within the overarching structure of the Public Health Model, the updated Blueprint is created with the intention of reinforcing the established Vision and Mission of the Mental Hygiene Administration.

The Blueprint operates on two levels.  First, it provides recommendations for the Office of Child and Adolescent Mental Health as it operates to fulfill its mandate within Maryland’s Public Mental Health System.  Most of these services, funded by Medical Assistance, are treatment-oriented; however, MHA also administers grant-funded programs which emphasize prevention and early intervention. On another level, MHA staff together with their partners and stakeholders -- especially families and youth -- has long played a vital role in advancing the agenda for child and adolescent mental health initiatives in Maryland. These initiatives cross historical agency as well as public/private boundaries. The Blueprint speaks to these interagency initiatives and public/private involvements, and includes efforts to influence mental health parity within the private health insurance sector to the extent possible.  
OCAS is committed to a resilience-based service system so that children with mental health needs and their families can, even in the face of many stressful life events, have a sense of optimism and hope for the future.  To that end OCAS, in collaboration with other child serving agencies, has formed a Resilience Committee to develop recommendations for the integration of resilience principles in programs serving children with mental health needs and their families.  The Committee is engaged in discussions with appropriate federal agencies and other states on promoting resilience.


OCAS Initiatives

Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health Campaign, a statewide educational campaign conducted in collaboration with the Mental Health Association of Maryland and other organizations concerned with the mental health and well being of children.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) Demonstration Grant 1915C Medicaid Waiver

  • This waiver provides funding for youth who meet medical necessity criteria for Residential Treatment Center (RTC) level of care. It allows Medicaid to be used for home and community based services for youth who need RTC intensity of services but can be safely cared for in a community setting (diversion) and/or return from RTC placement.
  • Its services are provided under a care management entity model with child and family teams developing a plan of care with a wraparound service delivery model.
  • Youth have access to a range of public mental system services and/or special waiver services including Respite Care, Family Peer Support, Youth to Youth Peer Support, Expressive Therapies, Family Education, In Home Crisis and Stabilization Services.

Youth Suicide Prevention Plan

  • Targets middle, high-school and college students, and at-risk populations aged15-24 years.
  • Provides crisis intervention, information, referral, and community outreach throughout the State via the Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline: 24/7 hotline network at 1- 800-422-0009.
  • Offers additional information on the Maryland Youth Suicide Prevention Program on the Internet at www.dhmh.state.gov/suicideprevention

LISA L Lawsuit Settlement

  • Coordinates interagency monitoring team which facilitates compliance with COMAR 14.31.03 and monitors youth in state custody admitted to designated psychiatric inpatient units to ensure timely discharge.
  • Provides ongoing training and consultation to psychiatric hospitals, providers and agencies to facilitate compliance with the regulations governing interagency discharge planning for children and adolescents (COMAR 14.31.03).
  • Monitors the Psychiatric Hospitalization Tracking System for Youth (PHTSY) and maintains data and reports generated by the system.


Child Mental Health Institute

A collaboration between the Child Psychiatry Divisions at University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University Medical Schools, Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health and University of Maryland Evidenced Based Practice Center. The Institute’s primary focus is on evidenced based practices for child and adolescent mental health, including Evidence Based Practices research, statewide implementation and outcomes monitoring. The Youth MOVE (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) initiative is part of the Children’s Mental Health Institute.


Regional Care Management Entities (CMEs)

The Mental Health Transformation State Incentive Grant (MHT-SIG) provided fiscal and policy analyses to assist the Children’s Cabinet in releasing a statewide Request For Proposal for Regional Care Management Entities (CMEs) for Wraparound service delivery to expand from four demonstration sites to statewide capacity. The CMEs provide supports to youth and families and system level functions. The populations to be served include:

  • 1915 (c) residential Treatment Center (RTC) Medicaid Waiver
  • SAMHSA-funded Systems Of Care grants-MD CARES and RURAL CARES
  • Child Welfare’s Place Matters Group Home Diversion using Resource Coordinators
  • Juvenile Services’ Out-of-Home Diversion using Wraparound Care Coordination


Centers of Excellence

is a partnership with the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health and Johns Hopkins University which is supported by the Maryland Children’s Cabinet, MHA, MHT-SIG and other child/family serving agencies. It is located at the University of Maryland and is comprised of the following Institutes:

  • Maryland Child and Adolescent Innovations Institute
  • Children’s Mental Health Institute
  • Juvenile Justice Institute


System of Care Training Institutes

hosts a statewide conference, in partnership with MHA, MHT-SIG and other state and local child/family serving agencies that supports the implementation of a coordinated interagency effort to develop a child-family serving system that can better meet the needs of children, youth and families.


Certificate Programs

to enhance the skills and knowledge of practitioners include:

  • Certification of Family Support Partners and Supervisors
  • Certification of Care Management Staff
  • Certification of Youth Support Partners
  • Advanced Practitioner Certification
  • Child and Adolescent Needs and Strength (CANS) assessment Certification (online)


Maryland’s Wraparound Fidelity Assessment System (WFAS)

provides useful and important data at both the State and local level by gathering data utilizing a series of survey instruments: 1) Wraparound Fidelity Index (WFI)-4.0 Telephone Interviews (4 per family), 2) Team Observation Measure (TOM) and Youth Services Survey (service satisfaction)


Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health

is a grassroots family organization established in 1999. It has established a family Leadership Institute, a Steering Committee for Children with Emotional Disturbance in School Settings and the annual “Children’s Mental Health Matters!” campaign, among other endeavors. The goal of the Psychopharmacology Practice Improvement is to foster rational medication prescribing and monitoring as a way to address public health concerns about increased use among youth in out-of-home placement through comprehensive strategies.


Behavioral Health and Disabilities Approach

This initiative entails a Steering Committee for Child/Adolescent Co-Occurring Disorders to assess needs and services of young people with emotional behavioral, developmental and substance abuse disorders. Workforce competencies will be developed to improve the services delivered to these youth with complex needs.


OCAS Collaborations

Maryland’s Children’s Cabinet and the Governor’s Office for Children (GOC)

OCAS participates in interagency state level approaches to problem solving and policy development through representation on Children’s Cabinet, State Coordinating Council, Interagency Licensing groups, Interagency Rates Committee and others


Department of Human Resources

  • OCAS consults with the Baltimore City Department of Social Services on mental health assessment and treatment for children entering the foster care system
  • OCAS collaborates with the Department of Human Resources to expand in-home mental health crisis and stabilization services for youth in their first foster care home or kinship care home to help stabilize their placement


Department of Juvenile Services (DJS)

  • OCAS provides consultation to the Department of Juvenile Services in development of mental health programs
  • OCAS provides mental health professionals to work in conjunction with DJS staff and some courts for mental health assessments and community referrals


Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)

  • Early Childhood Mental Health

    • Zero to Three Committee, in collaboration with Friends of the Family, working on prevention efforts for very young children and their families
    • The Early Childhood Mental Health Steering Committee is co-chaired by Dr. Carol Ann Heath (MSDE) and Dr. Al Zachik (MHA)
    • Mental health consultation is provided to all child care centers to promote the healthy social and emotional development of the child and to provide assessments, treatment, if needed, and supports to family and caregivers.
    • CSEFEL (Center for the Social and Emotional Foundations of Early Learning) – provides training for early childhood staff in collaboration with Georgetown University and Vanderbilt University
    • Certificate programs at University of Maryland for mental health providers and consultants in early childhood mental health
  • School Based Mental Health

    • Community based mental health professionals working in schools
    • Core competencies for working with foster care youth with mental health need in schools


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Workforce Steering Committee

  • Developed core competencies for children’s mental health professionals with MSDE
  • Developing training modules for the core competences
  • Developed a white paper on workforce development
  • Offered a new certificate program by the University of Maryland for Masters level mental health professionals to be trained on working with children ages 0 to 5
  • Developing certificate training program for Bachelors-level mental health professionals working with children ages 0 to 5

Juvenile Courts

Juvenile court orders are monitored in collaboration with core service agencies. This provides for juvenile competency educational attainment, as ordered

For more information on these and other projects, contact the Office of Child and Adolescent Services at 410-402-8487.