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Children's Mental Health Residential Treatment

Section 394.4781, Florida Statutes, authorizes the Department to pay a portion of the costs associated with residential care for children who have been diagnosed with severe emotional disturbance, who are recommended to need a residential level of mental health treatment by a Florida licensed psychologist or psychiatrist , and who are not eligible for public or private insurance.

The Department has very limited state General Revenue funds to purchase residential mental health treatment for children who qualify and is required to review applications monthly to approve or disapprove each application in accordance with:

  • The severity of the problems of the child
  • The financial means of the family
  • The availability of the needed residential care
  • Available funds

Each region has a procedure for reviewing applications for residential mental health treatment and determining whether placement in such a setting is the least restrictive, most beneficial treatment alternative for the child. Many children, even those with severe conditions, can be more effectively served in the community with a specially designed program of "wraparound" services for the child and family.

The goal of mental health treatment is to assist the child to live successfully in their community and with their families. Therefore, the placement of a child into residential mental health treatment should be made only after careful consideration is given to less restrictive treatment alternatives. Regions use a staffing process involving the child and parents or other caregivers and a multiagency group of professionals to consider the strengths and needs of the child and family and developed a service plan to enable the child either to remain at home or to return home from the treatment setting as soon as possible. Only if the needed services cannot be provided in a less restrictive environment is placement in a residential mental health treatment program considered.

If residential treatment is approved by the regional office, it must then be determined if funding is available to place the child. All available sources of funds are explored, including insurance (public and private) and cost-sharing with the family, the local school district, and other programs involved with the child, such as child welfare and juvenile justice.