Eligibility and Overview for Children and Youth Services
Who is eligible for publicly funded mental health services for children and youth?
Eligible children and families include:
- All Medicaid funded children who meet the medical necessity criteria
- All non-Medicaid funded children who meet medical necessity criteria and whose family income is no greater than 300% of the federal poverty guidelines.
Medical necessity criteria includes:
- mental health diagnosis,
- symptoms related to that diagnosis,
- level of functioning across life domains, and
- conditions and circumstances that may contribute to the mental health diagnosis.
In addition to determining eligibility, these features also determine the level of service intensity necessary at the time of service entry.
How do I enroll my child?
Referrals for publicly funded mental health services are made by directly contacting any one of the contracted King County child and youth providers. Families may also call the Mental Health Plan toll-free referral number at 1-800-790-8049.
Parent or guardian consent is needed for children under 13 years of age, but youth aged 13 and over can seek (or refuse) treatment without parental consent. Parents may also seek outpatient services for their youth, without the youth’s consent (RCW 71.34.650). Referrals are also made through the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) program. This federally mandated program for children under age 21 directs that all children at or below the poverty level be screened for health problems (including mental health) and provided with appropriate services to treat any identified medical issues.
What services are available?
The mental health system provides a continuum of care. This includes crisis services (telephone, outreach, respite, next-day appointments), outpatient services, and inpatient services (voluntary and involuntary under civil commitment criteria). With the exception of involuntary commitment, all services are voluntary. Services provided to children under the age of 13 must have parent or guardian consent. Services for youth aged 13 and older must be agreed to by that youth or be ordered as a condition of a less restrictive involuntary treatment order.
Specialized services for all children in King County
Additionally, King County offers a number of specialized services for children and youth to address needs not already available under the Mental Health Plan. A sample of these services follows:
The King County Mental Health Plan (KCMHP) recognizes that the unmet service needs of youth and their families are not and must not be the sole responsibility of any one formal system. KCMHP works to build and sustain cross-system collaborations and partnerships that foster cooperative approaches.
- Cross Agency System Trainings ( CAST ): King County sponsored CAST trainings provide an overview of the child-serving system in King County. These trainings are required as part of the orientation for Seattle Public Schools Family Support Workers, Child Protective Service case managers, and many other agency staff across the county. See the CAST training schedule.
- King County Systems Integration Initiative: This initiative involves a consortium of state and local youth-serving agencies working together to improve the coordination and integration of services for youth involved in the juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health and chemical dependency systems. More information here.