Members receive behavioral health coverage through Mercy Care Department of Child Safety Comprehensive Health Plan.
We’re here to help you and the children in your care. Our behavioral health services are designed to meet the needs of children and their families. We want to help the child and the whole family thrive. We believe that treating the whole child is one of the keys to achieving that goal. Mercy Care DCS CHP allows you and the member to choose the child’s health care providers. We work with you and the child to find someone who fits the child’s health and wellness goals.
Being removed from their home and placed in foster care is difficult and can be a traumatic experience for any child. Many children are placed in foster care due to some form of serious abuse or neglect. Research tells us that children in foster care often have emotional, behavioral or developmental problems. Physical health problems are also common. These problems and behaviors can appear suddenly or occur over time. If you notice a child in your care showing problem behaviors, he or she may need professional behavioral health support. It’s important to report any of these behaviors to the behavioral health provider and the DCS Specialist.
Children suffering from traumatic stress symptoms generally have difficulty regulating their behaviors and emotions. They may be clingy and fearful of new situations, easily frightened, difficult to console, and/or aggressive and impulsive. They may also have difficulty sleeping and show regression in functioning and behavior. In regard to forming healthy attachments, traumatized children feel that the world is uncertain and unpredictable. Their relationships can be characterized by problems with boundaries as well as distrust and suspiciousness. As a result, children that have experienced trauma can become socially isolated and have difficulty relating to and empathizing with others.
Navigating the behavioral health system
Behavioral health services are always recommended for children placed in out-of-home care to address their behavioral issues. This is especially important for children under six years of age. It is best practice to have a behavioral health medical professional assess, evaluate, and monitor the unique behavioral health needs of children placed in out-of-home care.
Behavioral Health: Integrated Rapid Response Assessment and on-going Behavioral Health Care
All Mercy Care DCS CHP members have experienced trauma and should receive an Integrated Rapid Response Assessment from a behavioral health provider within 72 hours of removal and placement into out-of-home care. This assessment evaluates the member for any acute behavioral health or physical health needs they may have and supports the caregiver to address those needs. The provider assists with selecting a PCP and arranging an initial appointment. The provider will make sure that there is follow up by an ongoing behavioral health team to support the member and out-of-home caregiver.
Foster Care Line
If a behavioral health provider has not called you to make an appointment to arrange for an Integrated Rapid Response service within 24 hours after the member enters out-of-home care, call the Crisis Response Network Foster Care Line at 602-633-0763.
All Mercy Care DCS CHP members must receive Behavioral Health services through an assigned behavioral health clinic. Mercy Care DCS CHP requests that the appointment with the Integrated Rapid Response Team be arranged and ongoing Behavioral Health services occur within the timeframes listed below.
Behavioral health appointments for persons in legal custody of the Department of Child Safety (DCS) and adopted children:
- Integrated Rapid Response Assessment (IRRA) – To be completed no later than 72 hours after notification by DCS that a child has been removed from their home
- Initial assessment – within seven calendar days after referral or request for behavioral health services (unless completed at the IRRA)
- Initial appointment – within time frames indicated by clinical need, but no later than 21 calendar days after the initial assessment/intake
- Ongoing behavioral health services – within the time frames according to the needs of the child, but no longer than 21 calendar days from the identification of need
If clinically necessary services aren’t provided within 21 calendar days after intake assessment, the out-of-home caregiver (e.g., foster parent, kinship or group home) should call Mercy Care DCS CHP Member Services at 602-212-4983 or 1-833-711-0776 (TTY/TDD 711). Or, you can email the Mercy Care Single Point of Contact at DCS@mercycareaz.org. You should also reach out to the AHCCCS Clinical Resolution Unit line at 602-364-4558 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The caregiver may then call any AHCCCS-registered providers directly, whether or not they are a part of the Mercy Care DCS CHP provider network, to schedule an appointment.
You can find information about Behavioral Health services and more contacts on the AHCCCS website at
Building a clinical team
During the Integrated Rapid Response Assessment, the clinician will assist in connecting the member to a Primary Care Physician, Assigned Behavioral Health Clinic or an Integrated Health Home. After the child in your care becomes connected to a Behavioral Health Home, you will develop a “team” to help you identify the child’s behavioral health needs and get behavioral health services. We call these clinical teams, more specifically Child and Family Teams.
You can choose a behavioral health clinic. Mercy Care DCS CHP can also assign you to a clinic. The clinic is where the child receives primary outpatient mental health services. Some clinics also offer physical health care. At the initial appointment, you can work with the DCS specialist to help determine who you want on the child’s clinical team. The team will work with the child on his or her goals. They will provide ongoing assessment and service planning. The members of the team will depend on the behavioral health professionals working with the child. Teams can include family members, guardians, friends, clergy and other supportive people from the community. Many times, the assessment that’s done at the first appointment won’t be complete. You’ll be working with members of the child’s team to continue that assessment process. This allows the child and the child’s team to always review progress and needs so that they get the best care. The treatment plan, also called an Individual Service Plan (ISP), should include all the services that the child needs, such as housing, support services, counseling, and transportation. The team should update the plan at least once a year, according to the child’s needs.
Child and family team
The Child and Family Team (CFT) is a defined group of people. It includes, at a minimum, the child, DCS Specialist and his/her caregiver, a behavioral health representative and any individuals important in the child’s life identified and invited to participate by the child and family. This may include, for example, teachers, extended family members, friends, family support partners, health care providers, coaches, community resource providers, representatives from religious affiliations. It can also include representatives from other service systems like Juvenile Probation or Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). The size, scope and intensity of involvement of the team members are determined by the goal established for the child, the needs of the family in providing for the child and the resources needed to develop an effective service plan. People can join or leave the team, as needed, to make sure the child gets the best care.
Mercy Care DCS CHP members are eligible for behavioral health services, which include drug and alcohol abuse services. Mercy Care DCS CHP Member ID cards have a phone number to access behavioral health and substance use services.
How parents/caregivers can help
Research on resilience in children demonstrates that an essential support needed for children to develop self‑care skills and confidence is the reliable presence of a caring, and protective parent/caregiver who can help shield children against difficult experiences. They can be a consistent resource for children in their care, encouraging them to talk about the experiences. And they can provide reassurance to the children that the adults in their life are working to keep them safe.
Behavioral health services include, but are not limited to:
- Behavior management (behavioral health personal assistance, family support, home care training, self-help, peer support)
- Behavioral health case management services (limited)
- Behavioral health nursing services
- Behavioral health residential facilities/BHRFs (previously called Therapeutic Group Homes or TGHs)
- Behavior health therapeutic home care services therapeutic foster care
- Emergency behavioral health care
- Emergency and non-emergency transportation
- Evaluation and assessment
- Individual, group, and family therapy and counseling
- Inpatient hospital services
- Non-hospital inpatient psychiatric facilities (Behavioral Health Inpatient Facilities/BHIFs previously called residential treatment centers or RTCs)
- Laboratory and radiology services for psychotropic medication regulation and diagnosis
- Opioid agonist treatment
- Psychosocial rehabilitation (living skills training, health promotion, supportive employment services)
- Psychotropic medication, adjustment and monitoring
- Respite care
- Substance use services
- Behavioral health screening
The child’s PCP may be able to help if the child has depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or opioid use concerns. PCPs may give the child medicine, watch how the medicine is working and order different tests in order to determine the best course of action to address the child’s condition. If you would like the child’s PCP to help if you feel the child has depression, anxiety, ADHD, or opioid use concerns, you should call the child’s PCP directly.
You do not need a referral from the child’s PCP for behavioral health services. If you would like behavioral health services, call the behavioral health provider directly to set up an appointment. You can also call Mercy Care DCS CHP Member Services at 602-212-4983 or 1-833-711-0776 (TTY/TDD 711) for help with finding a behavioral health provider.
SMI referral process for obtaining a SMI designation
Serious mental illness (SMI) is a description used in Arizona for people who need additional support because their mental health impacts their ability to function. Additional services available to those who have a SMI designation can include housing, help from human rights advocates, case management, Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and more. The SMI diagnoses considered are:
- Psychotic disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Depressive disorder
- Mood disorders
- Anxiety disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Personality disorders
- Dissociative Disorder
To be eligible for SMI services, a person must have both an SMI qualifying condition and functional impairment caused by the qualifying condition. Providers are required to screen individuals for potential SMI. Adults receiving general mental health or substance use services must be regularly screened for SMI. Transition aged youth (TAY) may be screened as part of their transition into adulthood. Members that do not have a CFT or a Children’s Provider can call Mercy Care DCS CHP Member Services to set up an SMI determination screening.
A member’s guardian or legal representative can also make the request. If a hospital requests an evaluation, it is considered an Urgent Referral and the contracted provider will go out within 24 hours to do the evaluation.
Members must be at least 17 and half years of age to have a SMI evaluation. SMI evaluations must be completed within 7 business days of the SMI determination referral request. Providers then send their SMI evaluation packets to Crisis Response Network, Inc. (CRN). CRN reviews all applications for SMI services and makes the determining entity to make the final SMI determination. CRN makes its determinations about eligibility for SMI services by following the state's guidelines/criteria. Members will be sent a written notice of the SMI determination decision within three business days of the initial assessment. The written notice will include information about the member’s right to appeal the decision.
For more information about getting a Serious Mental Illness (SMI) designation, you can call Mercy Care DCS CHP Member Services. at 602-212-4983 or 1-833-711-0776 (TTY/TDD 711). You can also call the Crisis Response Network at 602-845-3594 or 1-855-832-2866.
Behavioral Health Information and Privacy
There are laws about who can see the member’s behavioral health information with or without permission. Substance use treatment and communicable disease information (for example, HIV/AIDS information) cannot be shared with others without written permission.
At times, permission is not needed to share your behavioral health information to help arrange and pay for your care. These times could include the sharing of information with:
- Physicians and other agencies providing health, social, or welfare services
- The member’s medical and behavioral health providers
- Certain state agencies involved in the member’s care and treatment, as needed
- Members of the clinical team involved in the member’s care
At other times, it may be helpful to share the member’s behavioral health information with other agencies, such as schools. Written permission may be required before the member’s information is shared.
A foster parent, group home staff or other person or agency in whose care the child has been placed by the Department of Child Safety (DCS) can consent to evaluation and treatment for routine medical and dental treatment and procedures, including behavioral health services.
Examples of behavioral health services to which out-of-home caregivers can give consent include:
- Assessment and service planning
- Counseling and therapy
- Rehabilitation services
- Medical services
- Psychiatric evaluation
- Most psychotropic medication
- Laboratory services
- Support services
- Care management
- Family support
- Sign language or oral interpretive services
- Crisis intervention services