To work with families and youth in our community to help them stay at home, in school, out of trouble and support a healthy lifestyle. We strive to provide strength based, accessible, culturally and linguistically appropriate services that are comprehensive, using a flexible ‘whatever it takes’ approach to help youth and families achieve their own positive outcome.
About Our Services
We serve Medi-Cal eligible youth who have moderate to severe behavioral health needs. Often the youth we work with have faced challenging circumstances, have unmet behavioral health needs and may be at risk of out of home placement. We partner with youth and families to achieve positive outcomes developing individualized goals for our services that are focused on improving the overall health and emotional functioning of the youth, maintaining and/or strengthening family stability and relationships, and reducing the need for Juvenile Probation involvement, psychiatric hospitalization, and out of home placement.
Services may include assessment and treatment planning, individual, family, and group therapy, psycho-education and when necessary psychiatry services. Services are provided throughout the community in both North and South County. We strive to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services.
We embrace a System of Care philosophy and the Core Practice Model using collaboration, teaming through a trauma-informed practice, cultural competence and humility to provide effective, community-based services and supports for children and youth with, or at risk for, behavioral health challenges, and their families, that is organized into a coordinated network, builds meaningful partnerships with families and youth, and addresses their cultural and linguistic needs, to help them function better at home, in school, in the community, and throughout life.
How to Get Help
To request behavioral health services please call the County Behavioral Health ACCESS number at (800) 952-2335 health services as we don’t have walk-in screening services for youth. When you call you will be asked your child’s date of birth, social security number and the reason you are requesting services and for information on their Medi-Cal card Your call will be received by an ACCESS clerk who will first verify your child’s Medi-Cal status and then route the call to our Children’s ACCESS Navigator. The ACCESS Navigator will contact you and then refer you to the services that best meet your child’s needs.
If your child is currently involved with Juvenile Division of the Probation Department, Family and Children’s Services Division (CPS), or Special Education talk to your probation officer, social worker, or school psychologist. These SOC partners may be able to refer eligible youth to Children's Behavioral Health.
If Your Child is in Crisis
If you, or someone you know, are in imminent danger and need immediate help you should always call 911. Other resources are the confidential 24-Hour Suicide Crisis Line Toll-free: 1-877-663-5433 (ONE LIFE), Local: 831-458-5300 and the Santa Cruz County Parent Support Line at 831-426-7322 (available Monday through Friday, 5pm-8am, and 24 hrs. on weekends). If the situation does not pose imminent danger but needs crisis support, call the County Behavioral Health ACCESS number at (800) 952-2335. This number is answered 24 hours a day to all Santa Cruz County youth and will help direct you to services for your child.
The Mobile Emergency Response Team (MERT) is the Santa Cruz County Behavioral Health Crisis Intervention and Evaluation service team for youth and families living in Santa Cruz County, regardless of insurance coverage. MERT provides crisis intervention, stabilization and field-based response to acute crisis situations. MERT works with youth and families around safety planning and provides short term clinical follow up and linkage to appropriate treatment services. MERT services are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 am – 5 pm. Services can be accessed by direct walk-in or calling (800) 952-2335.
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
Children's Behavioral Health Services Programs
- Community Gate provides intensive outpatient, case management and psychiatric services for children and youth who have moderate to severe behavioral health needs. This team works closely with families, schools and the other supports involved in the lives of children and youth. Our goal is improving their emotional well-being, reduce behavioral health symptoms, and impacts these may be having, and to support healthy lifestyles. Children’s ACCESS, a part of the Community Gate team, provides phone navigation and referrals to those seeking behavioral health services for children and youth with Medi-Cal.
- Family Partnership Program is a parent-run program (Volunteer Center) that provides peer support, education, and advocacy for families within our system of care.
- Encompass’ Youth Services Program offers outpatient counseling in North and South county offices, at school sites 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 and substance abuse services to Watsonville youth, Pajaro Valley Unified School District students, and provides some probation-related services.
- Parents Center provides counseling services to children, youth and families in both North and South County, and to youth referred by the Family and Children’s Services Division.
System of Care Services for Youth Involved With The Child Welfare System
- The Child Welfare Team provides intensive outpatient services to children and youth ages 0 – 21 who have been placed into foster care, group homes, or are at imminent risk for being removed due to abuse or neglect. These teams support youth and families involved in the child welfare system, supporting reunification whenever possible and permanency for youth. Referrals to this team are made by social workers from the Department of Family and Children’s Service.
- Katie A. services came from a class action lawsuit filed in federal district court in 2002 concerning the availability of intensive mental health services to children in California who are either in foster care or at imminent risk of coming into care. Katie A. services, provided by the Child Welfare Team, ensures the provision of services delivered in a coordinated, comprehensive and community-based fashion. It ensures that some children with more intensive mental health needs receive enhanced services such as Intensive Care Coordination, Intensive Home-Based Services, and Therapeutic Foster care when needed.
- Presumptive Transfer: Assembly Bill 1299 (Ridley-Thomas, Chapter 603, Statutes 2016) established Presumptive Transfer, a policy to improve the timely and effective provision and payment of specialty Behavioral health services to children in foster care who are placed outside of their counties of jurisdiction by transferring the responsibility for the provision and payment of specialty Behavioral health services to the county of residence.
- Please contact Meg Yarnell, Behavioral Health Program Manager at (831) 454-4417 or email at email@example.com for assistance with presumptive transfer.
- Encompass’ Families Together Program is a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary team of services providers that work with families at risk for child abuse and neglect in Santa Cruz County. Families Together focuses on reducing the number of re-referrals to the Department of Family and Children’s Services by improving safety, child development, and family relationships.
- Encompass’ Transition-Age Services /Transition Housing Program/Independent Living Program (THP/ILP) assists current and former foster and probation placement youth aged 15-21 to develop independent living skills and achieve educational/vocational goals to successfully transition to self-sufficiency.
- Encompass’ Crossroads is a short-term residential treatment program for youth involved with the foster care and juvenile probation systems in need of intensive residential treatment.
- Parents Center provides counseling services to children, youth and families referred by the Department of Family and Children’s Services.
System of Care Services for Youth Involved with the Department of Probation Juvenile Division
- Wraparound is a program that seeks to strengthen families so youth at imminent risk for out of home placement may continue living at home, with their families and in their communities. By using innovative, non-traditional approaches to case planning and service delivery, families are central to all decision-making and behavioral health services which support the family's vision for success.
- Intensive Outpatient Program is for youth who may be at risk of out of home placement. Services emphasizes individualized behavioral health approaches, particularly for older youth preparing for independence, and for families unable to participate in the Wraparound process.
- The Evening Center is a collaboration between the Juvenile Division of the Probation Department and CBH. It is a detention alternative with focused treatment programming, that serves as an immediate response for probation involved youth who are struggling with behavioral health/substance abuse problems, failing to comply with conditions of probation, and/or as a response to new violations.
- The program operates Tuesday through Friday from 4 pm – 8 pm. 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 - Youth detained at Juvenile Hall are provided services which may include crisis intervention and evaluation services, behavioral health assessment and individualized treatment based on assessment findings. Youth may be provided with individual rehabilitation counseling, group rehabilitation counseling and substance abuse psychoeducation for youth detained in Juvenile Hall
Probation Programs and Initiatives is a link to a complete list of grants, projects and collaboratives with the Santa Cruz County Probation Department.
School Treatment Programs
- Children’s Behavioral Health is contracted by the Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) to provide Educationally Related Behavioral Health Services (ERMHS) to Special Education eligible students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
- PVUSD is a single district Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA). They oversee and provide educational services for district students with an IEP.
- For children living outside of PVUSD, the North County SELPA school districts and the County Office of Education provide their own counseling services to eligible Special Education pupils.
- Both the PVUSD and North Santa Cruz County SELPA’s are committed to serving special education students by providing equal access to resources and a comprehensive education.