Children and Families

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The system of services for children and families in Virginia, including mental health services, is complex, multi-faceted, and rapidly evolving. The growth in these services has been almost completely supported by public funding through Medicaid and the Children's Services Act (CSA). CSBs are the public provider of community mental health services.  There is an array of publicly-funded children’s mental health services in most Virginia communities. 

These services are part of the interagency system that serves children in Virginia, including all of the state and local child-serving agencies such as Social Services, Juvenile Justice, Education, Community Services Boards, the Children's Services Act, and the well-developed network of privately-operated, publicly-funded children’s services. The need for collaboration among these agencies cannot be overstated. Children with behavioral health problems usually interface with more than one of these agencies and the extent to which collaboration exists strongly influences the success of interventions that are used.


The Office of Child and Family Services periodically offers workforce development initiatives.  Please visit Eventbrite to see if any trainings or workshops are currently being offered.

The Office of Children’s Services keeps a training calendar. You may find the calendar, here.


Our mission is to ensure high quality behavioral healthcare for children ages 0 through 21 and their families by:

  • Leading and supporting statewide efforts to establish and strengthen a comprehensive system of care for children and families; and
  • Building and participating in collaborative partnerships among families and child service providers across agencies and disciplines


Our vision is for children with behavioral health needs and their families in Virginia to be healthy productive citizens who have access to a comprehensive integrated system of care that is community-based, child-centered, family-driven, outcome-oriented, and culturally competent.


The Office of Child and Family Services holds that supports and services for children and families whose lives are affected by mental illness, intellectual disability, and substance abuse disorders should:

  • Empower families and children in developmentally appropriate ways to make choices in their lives.
  • Provide prompt assistance to those seeking professional support.
  • Promote integrated community-based services.
  • Ensure supports and services are easy to access, family-driven, individualized, flexible to changing needs and circumstances, culturally sensitive, and based on functional needs rather than categorical labels.
  • Make available to families the level of supports and services needed to keep children with disabilities in their own homes.
  • Support understanding of family lifestyle limitations due to living with a family member with disabilities.
  • Provide education and training to providers of family support that will prepare them to work with people with disabilities in inclusive settings.
  • Maximize disability-specific and generic funding sources to the fullest and contain costs through reinvestment in supports which provide the strongest and most individualized outcomes for children and their families.

Children and youth with disabilities and their families: 

  • Have dignity and worth as human beings.
  • Deserve equal access to public support services.
  • Need families and friends who can serve as their strongest advocates and social supports.
  • Are entitled to health, safety, and well-being, free from abuse, neglect, exploitation, or social stigmas.
  • Need person-centered planning rather than professionally-driven services.
  • Have the right to live in supportive communities.
  • Participate in successful transition to adult supports and services.


  • To promote the use of evidence-based practices.
  • To develop a seamless system of care that integrate services across disciplines.
  • To partner with stakeholders working to improve services to children.
  • To develop policies that promote child and family services.
  • To address gaps in existing services.
  • To develop new services using evidence based practices and expand existing evidence based models. 
  • To increase family involvement on committees, councils, task forces, addressing children issues.
  • Increase funding for children services.
  • To show case services that are working in the Commonwealth.

§ 37.2-308. Data reporting on children and adolescents.


Instructions-Acute Care Report Form

Acute Care Report Form

Instructions-Residential Treatment Report Form

Residential Treatment Report Form 

Checklist for Completion of Forms 


Substance Abuse Service Availability Form 

The 2012 General Assembly has added to section 37.2-505 of the Code of Virginia, which on July 1, 2012 require CSBs to provide information to hospitals about their substance abuse services available to minors. The Department has created a template, for download, that should be used to provide this information to hospitals.

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), has contracted with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Virginia to implement the Virginia Family Network Initiative. This network of families is committed to providing opportunities that support, educate, and empower other families with children and youth with mental health needs while also promoting family driven and youth guided policy throughout the child serving systems.  The initiative is designed to “meet the family where they are” through activities such as providing support groups, training, resources, and mentorship from other families with children and youth with mental health needs. 

For more information and to learn how you can become involved with this initiative, visit the Virginia Family Network.

Young people have the right to be empowered, educated, and given a decision-making role in the care of their own lives as well as the policies and procedures governing care for all youth in the community, state and nation. This includes giving young people a sustainable voice and then listening to that voice. Youth guided organizations are safe environments that enable young people to gain self-sustainability in accordance with the cultures and beliefs with which they identify. Further, a youth-guided approach recognizes that there is a continuum of power that should be share with young people based on their understanding and maturity in a strength-based change process. Youth-guided organizations recognize that this process should be fun and worthwhile (Youth M.O.V.E VA, SAMHSA).


A system of care is: A spectrum of effective, community-based services and supports for children and youth with or at risk for mental health or other 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, in order to help them to function better at home, in school, in the community, and throughout life (Source: Stroul, B., Blau, G., & Friedman, R. (2010)). Systems of Care in Virginia

DBHDS is working with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive strategic plan than builds on the system of care work that has already occurred in Virginia in order to implement systems of care statewide. The current focus is to expand that array and capacity of services to assure base level services for children and families statewide. 

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