THE CONTINUUM OF CARE FOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
Articles for Parents
All Family Resources
Alphabetical List
  1. Children and Divorce
  2. Teenagers with Eating Disorders
  3. Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs
  4. The Depressed Child
  5. Child Abuse - The Hidden Bruises
  6. Children Who Can't Pay Attention
  7. Children Who Won't Go to School
  8. Children and Grief
  9. Child Sexual Abuse
  10. Teen Suicide
  11. The Child with Autism
  12. Children Who Steal
  13. Children and TV Violence
  14. Children and Family Moves
  15. The Adopted Child
  16. Children with Learning Disabilities
  17. Children of Alcoholics
  18. Bedwetting
  19. The Child with a Long-Term Illness
  20. Making Day Care a Good Experience
  21. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part I: How Medications Are Used
  22. Normality
  23. Mental Retardation
  24. Know When to Seek Help for Your Child
  25. Who can be contacted to seek Help for Your Child
  26. Know Your Health Insurance Benefits
  27. Stepfamily Problems
  28. Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
  29. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part II: Types of Medications
  30. Children and AIDS
  31. When Children Have Children
  32. 11 Questions to Ask Before Psychiatric Hospital Treatment of Children and Adolescents
  33. Conduct Disorders
  34. Children's Sleep Problems
  35. Tic Disorders
  36. Helping Children After a Disaster
  37. Children and Firearms
  38. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness) in Teens
  39. Children of Parents with Mental Illness
  40. The Influence of Music and Music Videos
  41. Substance Abuse Treatment for Children and Adolescents: Questions to Ask
  42. The Continuum of Care
  43. Discipline
  44. Children and Lying
  45. Lead Exposure
  46. Home Alone Children
  47. The Anxious Child
  48. Problems with Soiling and Bowel Control
  49. Schizophrenia in Children
  50. Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  51. Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents Part III: Questions to Ask
  52. Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation
  53. What is Psychotherapy For Children and Adolescents?
  54. Children and Watching TV
  55. Understanding Violent Behavior in Children & Adolescents
  56. Parenting: Preparing for Adolescence
  57. Normal Adolescent Development - Middle School and Early High School Years
  58. Normal Adolescent Development - Late High School Years and Beyond
  59. Children Online
  60. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  61. Children and Sports
  62. Talking to Your Kids About Sex
  63. Gay And Lesbian Adolescents
  64. Foster Care
  65. Children's Threats: When are they serious? 
  66. Helping Teenagers with Stress
  67. Children and The News
  68. Tobacco and Kids
  69. Asperger's Disorder
  70. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  71. Multiracial Children
  72. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  73. Self-Injury in Adolescents
  74. Advocating for Your Child
  75. Pets and Children
  76. Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver
  77. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
  78. When a Pet Dies
  79. Obesity in Children and Teens
  80. Bullying #80
THE CONTINUUM OF CARE FOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Communities provide different types of treatment programs and services for children and adolescents with mental illnesses. A complete range of programs and services is called the continuum of care. Not every community has every type of service or program on the continuum. Some psychiatric hospitals and other organized systems of care now provide many of the services on the continuum. When several of the services are provided, the organization may be called a health care system.

The beginning point for parents concerned about their child's behavior or emotions should be an evaluation by a qualified mental health professional such as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. At the conclusion of the evaluation, the professional will recommend a certain type of service(s) or program(s) from the continuum available locally. The professional is then usually required to obtain approval from the insurance company or organization managing mental health benefits (e.g. managed care organization). In the case of programs funded publicly, a specific state agency must authorize the recommended program(s) or service(s). If the program or service is not authorized, it will not be paid. Many of the programs on the continuum offer a variety of different treatments, such as individual psychotherapy, family therapy, group therapy, and medications.

A brief description of the different services or programs in a continuum of care follows:
 
Office or outpatient clinic Visits are usually under one hour. The number of visits per week depends on the youngster's needs.
 
Intensive case management Specially trained individuals coordinate or provide psychiatric, financial, legal, and medical services to help the child or adolescent live successfully at home and in the community.
 
Home-based treatment services A team of specially trained staff go into a home and develop a treatment program to help the child and family.
 
Family support services Services to help families care for their child such as parent training, parent support group, etc.
 
Day treatment program This intensive treatment program provides psychiatric treatment with special education. The child usually attends five days per week.
 
Partial hospitalization (day hospital) This provides all the treatment services of a psychiatric hospital, but the patients go home each evening.
 
Emergency/crisis services 24-hour-per-day services for emergencies (for example, hospital emergency room, mobile crisis team).
 
Respite care services A patient stays briefly away from home with specially trained individuals.
 
Therapeutic group home or community residence This therapeutic program usually includes 6 to 10 children or adolescents per home, and may be linked with a day treatment program or specialized educational program.
 
Crisis residence This setting provides short-term (usually fewer than 15 days) crisis intervention and treatment. Patients receive 24-hour-per-day supervision
 
Residential treatment facility Seriously disturbed patients receive intensive and comprehensive psychiatric treatment in a campus-like setting on a longer-term basis.
 
Hospital treatment Patients receive comprehensive psychiatric treatment in a hospital. Treatment programs should be specifically designed for either children or adolescents. Length of treatment depends on different variables.
 

Parents should always ask questions when a professional recommends psychiatric treatment for their child or adolescent. For instance, which types of treatment are provided, and by whom? Parents should also ask about the length of time? What is the cost? How much of the cost is covered by insurance or public funding? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the recommended service or program? Parents should always feel free to obtain a second opinion about the best type of program for their child or adolescent.

Related Facts for Families: #26 - Being Prepared: Know Your Health Insurance Benefits, #32 - 11 Questions to Ask Before Psychiatric Hospital Treatment of Children and Adolescents, #41 - Making Decisions About Substance Abuse Treatment

 

Article #42 Updated 04/96

All Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving us permission to use this article.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists who are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Facts for Families is developed and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale. To order full sets of FFF, contact Public Information, 1.800.333.7636.  Free distribution of individual Facts sheets is a public service of the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund. Please make a tax deductible contribution to the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund and support this important public outreach. (AACAP, Special Friends of Children Fund, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090).
   
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