All children and adolescents in foster, adoptive and kinship care in Arizona are eligible to receive behavioral health services. Mercy Care works to connect them – and the families who’ve opened their homes and hearts to them – with high-quality care. We work with the Department of Child Safety (DCS), the Comprehensive Medical and Dental Program (CMDP) and community provider agencies to provide behavioral health services. CMDP provides physical, dental and vision coverage to children in DCS care.
Connecting to care
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s care or experience in the behavioral health system, you can contact us at DCS@MercyCareAZ.org or 602‑453‑8095.
To find a behavioral health provider for a child not already enrolled, you can call Mercy Care Member Services representatives are available to help you Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Just call 602-263-3000 or toll-free 1-800-624-3879 (TTY/TDD 711). Member Services will choose a primary provider, depending on the guardian’s preference and location.
In the event clinically necessary services added to the service plan are not provided within 21 calendar days after intake assessment, the adoptive parent or the out‑of‑home caregiver (e.g., foster parent, kinship or group home) should contact the Mercy Care Single Point of Contact at 602‑453‑8095 and the AHCCCS Customer Service line at 602‑364‑4558. The caregiver may then contact any AHCCCS‑registered providers directly, regardless of whether they are a part of the Mercy Care's provider network, to schedule an appointment. Caregivers and guardians can also choose providers by searching our online Provider Directory at the top of this page.
You can learn more about the benefits and coverage available through CMDP or find a provider by visiting Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) or calling 602‑351‑2245.
Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Training Series
Training is offered each month. Spanish interpretation is provided. You can also contact DCS@MercyCareAZ.org or call 602-414-7575. Upcoming training sessions are posted on our events page.
Forums and community meetings
Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Navigation Forum
Learn about the behavioral health services available to children and youth in foster and adoptive care. We’ll talk about finding the right care, breaking down barriers and getting support for you and your family. Foster, adoptive, kinship and group home caregivers are welcome. You can also contact DCS@MercyCareAZ.org or call 602-414-7575.
Child and Family Advisory Partnership (CFAP) Community Forum Get connected to what’s happening in the local behavioral health community. You can talk directly with providers. And, we’d like you to share your ideas on how to improve the children’s system of care. You can enjoy dinner and meet other families. Spanish interpretation and child watch provided. Call 602-288-0155 to pre-register email Mercy Care’s Office of Individual and Family Affairs at OIFATeam@MercyCareAZ.org.
Support for you – and the children in your care
Being removed from their home and placed in foster care is a difficult and traumatic experience for a child. Many children are in foster care because they’ve experienced 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 any of these behaviors, he or she may need professional behavioral health support. It’s important to report any of these behaviors to your behavioral health provider and Department of Child Safety (DCS) specialist.
Caring for children who have experienced such disruption in their lives, although often rewarding, can be challenging at times. Community‑based services, including respite care, counseling, case management and family support, are available to caregivers. Behavioral health providers are often aware of services and supports in the community for the caregiver and child. You can also reach out to the community resources organizations listed below, or ask your licensing specialist. Caregivers should also take care of themselves. Some ways they can do this is by scheduling personal time, talking to trusted friends, exercising, getting involved in relaxing or fun activities.
Some common issues experienced by children in foster care
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, or aggressive and impulsive. They may have difficulty sleeping or show regression in functioning and behavior. Traumatized children feel that the world is uncertain and unpredictable. They may have trouble forming healthy attachments. They can experience problems with boundaries, distrust and suspiciousness in their relationships. As a result, children who have experienced trauma can become socially isolated and have difficulty relating to and empathizing with others. Caregivers can help by recognizing and understanding how to respond to these common emotional, behavioral and physical problems of children in foster care:
- Poor verbal skills
- Poor appetite, low weight and/or digestive problems
- Stomachaches and headaches
- Poor sleep habits
- Nightmares or sleep difficulties
- Wetting the bed or self after being toilet trained or exhibiting other regressive behaviors
- Memory problems
- Difficulty focusing or learning in school
- Learning disabilities
- Displaying excessive temper
- Demanding attention through positive and negative behaviors
- Behavior indicative of a younger age
- Imitating the abusive/traumatic event
- Verbally abusive
- Screaming or crying excessively
- Unable to trust others or make friends
- Fearing adults who remind them of the traumatic event
- Fear of being separated from parent/caregiver
- Anxious, fearful and avoidant
- Acting withdrawn
- Lacking self‑confidence
- Believing they are to blame for the traumatic experience
For older children and adolescents:
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Sense of isolation and not belonging
- Negative self‑esteem related to feelings they don’t understand
- Intrusive thoughts of self‑harm
- Substance use
It’s important to note that with the right support and care, most children show extraordinary resiliency and determination. They can and do get better with treatment and go on to live fulfilling lives.
The Arizona Vision and 12 Principles
The values and goals in the Arizona Vision and 12 Principles are at the foundation of Mercy Care children’s system of care.
The Arizona Vision states:
“In collaboration with the child and family and others, Arizona will provide accessible behavioral health services designed to aid children to achieve success in school, live with their families, avoid delinquency, and become stable and productive adults. Services will be tailored to the child and family and provided in the most appropriate setting, in a timely fashion and in accordance with best practices, while respecting the child‘s family‘s cultural heritage.”
The 12 Principles
- Collaboration with the child and family: Respect for and collaboration with the child and family is essential to positive behavioral health outcomes. Parents and children are treated as partners and their preferences are taken seriously.
- Functional outcomes: Behavioral health services are designed and implemented to help children be successful in school, live with their families, avoid delinquency and become stable and productive adults.
- Collaboration with others: Children with multi-agency, multi-system involvement will have a jointly established behavioral health services plan that is collaboratively implemented.
- Accessible services: Children will have access to a wide range of behavioral health services to ensure that they receive the treatment they need. Services will be adapted or created when they are needed but not available.
- Best practices: Behavioral health services are provided by competent people who are adequately trained and supervised. They are delivered according to evidence-based “best practices.” They are continually evaluated and changed, if necessary, to achieve desired outcomes.
- Most appropriate setting: Children are provided services in their home and community to the extent possible. Behavioral health services are provided in the most integrated setting appropriate to the child’s needs.
- Timeliness: Children identified as needing behavioral health services are assessed and served promptly.
- Services tailored to the child and family: The unique strengths and needs of children and their families determine the type, mix and intensity of services. Parents and children are encouraged to voice their strengths and needs, their goals and what services they believe are required to meet those goals.
- Stability: Behavioral health services strive to minimize multiple placements. Service plans identify whether a child is at risk of a placement disruption, and identify steps to minimize or eliminate that risk. Service plans anticipate crises and include specific strategies and services to be used in a crisis. Service plans anticipate and plan for transitions in children’s lives.
- Respect for the child and family's unique cultural heritage: Behavioral health services are provided in a manner that respects the cultural tradition of the child and family. Services are provided in Spanish to children and parents whose primary language is Spanish.
- Independence: Behavioral health services include support and training for parents to meet their child’s behavioral health needs. Services include support and training for children to manage their behaviors.
- Connection to natural supports: Natural supports will be used from the family's community network. This includes friends, neighbors and community organizations.
Read the read the full text of the Arizona Vision and 12 Principles.
Here are some helpful resources and organizations for families with children and adolescents in adoptive care.
Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents
The Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents is a non‑profit, statewide organization serving families who adopt children and provide foster and kinship care. The association supports, educates and provides a unified voice for Arizona’s foster and adoptive families.
2320 N. 20th St., Phoenix, AZ 85006‑2059
Family Involvement Center
Family Involvement Center (FIC) is a non‑profit, family‑run organization that supports parents and caregivers raising children with emotional, physical and/or behavioral health needs. FIC provides direct support services to parents and youth (for those enrolled in public behavioral health services), resources and assistance with health services and children’s systems, support groups, education and training.
5333 N, 7th St., Ste. A100, Phoenix, AZ 85014
602‑288‑0155 or 1‑877‑568‑8468
Raising Special Kids
Raising Special Kids provides support and information for parents of children, from birth to age 26, with a full range of disabilities and special health care needs. Programs are offered at no cost to families, and are available in English and Spanish.
5025 E. Washington St., Ste., 204, Phoenix, AZ 85034
602‑242‑4366 or 1‑800‑237‑3007
MIKID is a non-profit, licensed outpatient clinic and family‑run organization that contracts with all the Regional Behavioral Health Authorities (RBHAs) in the state to provide behavioral health services. MIKID offers in‑home and community supports across the state.
2642 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016
Reach Family Services Inc./Alcanza Servisios de Familia
Reach assists families who are raising children with behavioral health and emotional challenges.
3535 W. Southern Ave., Ste. 128, Phoenix, AZ 85041
Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)
CWLA is a coalition of hundreds of private and public provider agencies partnering to advance policies, best practices and collaborative strategies that result in better outcomes for vulnerable children youth and families.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Established by Congress in 2000, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is focused on childhood trauma. NCTSN’s collaboration of frontline providers, researchers, and families is committed to raising the standard of care and increasing access to services.