Children’s Behavioral Health

BCBSAZ Health Choice’s Children’s Services staff operate with a team approach to develop, implement, monitor and manage services and programs for behavioral healthcare needs of children enrolled in Health Choice’s system.

You can contact our Children’s Liaison 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 928-214-2370 for further assistance.

BCBSAZ Health Choice’s Children’s Services staff uses a team approach to develop and enhance programming that helps pave the way toward children and families experiencing the Arizona Vision and Twelve Principles:

  1. Collaboration with the child and family
    Collaboration with the child and family is essential. Parents and children are treated as partners in all stages of service delivery.
  2. Functional outcomes
    Behavioral health services are designed and implemented to aid children to be successful in school, live with their families, avoid delinquency and become stable and productive adults.
  3. Collaboration with others
    Children with multi-system involvement will have a jointly established child/family centered service plan.
  4. Accessible services
    Children will have access to a wide array of behavioral health services, which will be adapted or created when not available.
  5. Best practices: Behavioral health services are provided according to best practices and are continually evaluated and modified to achieve desired outcomes.
  6. Most appropriate setting
    Children are provided services in their home and community to the extent possible.
  7. Timeliness
    Children identified as needing behavioral health services are assessed and served promptly.
  8. Services tailored to the child and family
    Services are tailored to the child and family with their unique strengths and needs driving the service array provided.
  9. Stability
    Behavioral health services strive to minimize multiple placements and prevent crisis situations.
  10. 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.
  11. Independence
    Behavioral health services include support and training for both parents and children to gain independence.
  12. Connection to natural supports
    Natural supports will be used from the family’s own community network including friends, neighbors, and organizations.

What is ASD?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability. People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave and learn in different ways than other people.

Everyone is different. Learning, thinking and problem-solving skills can range from gifted to severely challenged. This can affect their daily lives. Some need less help and some need more help.

You can learn more about signs and symptoms at

ASD Evaluation

If your child is showing signs of autism, talk to your doctor or Child and Family Team (CFT), about an ASD Evaluation.

The evaluator will start a survey where you will be asked to answer questions about your child. Some surveys that may be used are:

If the evaluator sees signs of ASD from your child’s evaluation, they may send you to a specialized doctor.  Here’s a list of BCBSAZ Health Choice ASD providers:


What’s Next?

If your evaluation indicates ASD, your doctor or team will send the results to the Arizona’s Department of Economic Security (DES) to see if your child is eligible for special services. DES has two programs that can support you and your child. The programs include:

Both programs may provide services to improve your child’s health. Services include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Nutritionist
  • Community resources

Should I still see my Doctor?

You may continue to see your doctor. Your doctor can assist your child with getting many services to improve their health. Some services include:

  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication support (if needed)

Your doctor can assist with getting behavioral health services or talk to your behavioral health provider (if you  have one). Your behavioral health provider can offer your child more services to improve their growth. Some services include:

  • Case management
  • Applied Behavioral Health Analysis (ABA)
  • Psychiatry
  • Medication support (if needed)
  • Support services
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Early childhood intervention
  • Respite
  • Crisis services

If you have any questions, you may contact our member services team at 1-800-322-8670.

Have you heard about Project ECHO?

Project ECHO is a great resource. You can visit their website at : Project ECHO also has tool kits to help you connect to care. The tool kits include:

Additional Resources

What is First Episode Psychosis?

The term, “psychosis” refers to hallucinations or unusual thoughts, behaviors or emotions. Psychosis or schizophrenia is a symptom of a mental illness. If this is your first time having these symptoms, this is called a “first episode.”

Some Things to Know About Psychosis:

  • Schizophrenia and psychosis usually develop between the ages 12-25
  • On average, people have symptoms for over a year before getting help
  • Young adults with schizophrenia or psychosis have a high risk of suicide
  • The greatest risk of suicide is within the first five years of onset of psychosis symptoms
  • Schizophrenia and psychosis are treatable

What Are the Symptoms?

It can be hard to tell when someone begins to experience psychosis. Psychosis may occur in different events. You may have times where things are normal, and then periods of times when thoughts, feelings and views are disturbed. Common symptoms are:

  • Hearing or seeing things that others don’t
  • Having beliefs or thoughts that are unusual or bizarre
  • Unusual behaviors
  • Feelings of being watched
  • Changes in personality
  • Changes in personal hygiene
  • Problems sleeping
  • Distancing yourself from others
  • Trouble thinking

What Can You Do To Help?

Families and friends are often the first to see signs of psychosis. Psychosis is treatable. It is important to seek help early. Early treatment can help slow down or stop the symptoms of psychosis and improve recovery. Research has found early treatment improves quality of life and increases successes in work and school.

If you have experienced the symptoms of psychosis, we can help. You can call our Member Services at 1-800-322-8670. Your Health Home can also help. Some providers offer programs for first episode psychosis.

BCBS-AZ Health Choice providers offering these programs are:

  • The Guidance Center
  • Mohave Mental Health Clinic
  • Child and Family Support Services
  • Spectrum Healthcare Group
  • Polara Health
  • Valleywise Health
  • Resilient Health

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, call our Crisis Line at 1-855-756-4090.

For life-threatening emergencies, please dial 911.

BCBSAZ-Health Choice ensures children’s behavioral health delivery of services adhere’s to Arizona’s Children’s System of Care model, and in conformance with the Arizona Vision and Twelve Principles.

BCBSAZ Health Choice focuses on the following areas:

  • Transition to Adulthood Programming
  • Access to trauma-informed services
  • Child and Family Team practice Improvement
  • Development of High Needs Case Management Services for High-Needs Children
  • Adolescent Substance Abuse Program Development
  • Reducing Use of Congregate (facility-based) Care
  • Services for children birth to five and their parents
  • Access to therapeutic foster care – fostering a parent-to-parent model
  • Collaboration with community partners

BCBSAZ-Health Choice endeavors to provide access to behavioral health services for children in their community. Your behavioral health provider can provide appropriate services in your school setting. If you need assistance locating your behavioral health provider, please contact Member Services at 1-800-322-8670.

With the consent of the student’s parent, school administrators and leaders can connect with local behavioral health providers in their area to facilitate referrals for behavioral health services as well as enter a memorandum of understanding for co-located school-based services with a local behavioral health provider.  BCBSAZ-Health Choice may assist with facilitating this connection. View our Behavioral Health Resource list and contact information:

The inception of Child and Family Team practice in northern Arizona since 2001 represents a major change in our state’s philosophy for serving children with serious emotional disturbances. Rather than children being funneled into standard treatment plans, individualized service plans are developed in partnership with the child and family to fit their unique cultures and circumstances.

The Child and Family Team (CFT) is a group of people that includes, at a minimum, the child and family, any foster parents, a behavioral health representative, and any individuals important in the child’s life and who are identified and invited to participate by the child and family. In the case of children who may be legally dependent or delinquent, the custodial agency shares selection of team membership with the child and family. This may include, for example, teachers, extended family members, friends, family advocates, healthcare providers, coaches, community resource providers, representatives from faith-based communities, agents from other state service systems, etc.

The size, scope, and intensity of involvement of the team members are determined by the objectives established for the child and the needs of the family in providing for the child and can therefore expand and contract as necessary to be successful on behalf of the child.

  • Behavioral Health Providers: Contact your Agency’s Training/Workforce Administrator or BCBSAZ-Health Choice Workforce Development Administrator if you have questions on accessing CFT training.

Arizona has seen an increasing need for foster care programs that serve children who require specialized clinical and supportive interventions.

In 1989 the regional ADES/CPS District III first recognized this need in rural northern Arizona and initiated a Professional Family Foster Care program. BCBSAZ-Health Choice joined this innovative program to provide Medicaid funding and substantial clinical and other supports, thereby rapidly expanding capacity in this new partnership.

TFC is an evidence-based, shared parenting practice and provides many children a chance to experience the intimacy of family connections related to longer-term positive stability.   These children might otherwise have been placed away from their communities, including in out-of-state and more restrictive institutional settings. BCBSAZ Health Choice is committed to continuing to develop local treatment resources.

BCBSAZ-Health Choice continues to contract with therapeutic foster care licensing agencies throughout the region to expand this program.

As of April 1st 2021, the Department of Child Safety (DCS) has entered into statewide, behavioral and physical health integration with the creation of the Department of Child Safety-Comprehensive Health Plan (DCS-CHP).  This is a partnership with DCS, the physical health plan Comprehensive Medical and Dental Program (CMDP) and the behavioral health plan Mercy Care to provide integrated comprehensive physical and behavioral health service delivery across the state.

Mercy Care DCS-CHP is the behavioral health plan for children in DCS custody in northern Arizona.  Mercy Care DCS-CHP members may contact Mercy Care at 1-833-711-0776.  Additional information and assistance can be located at Mercy Care DCS-CHP website

As part of the Governor’s Department of Child Safety (DCS) Reform Process, AHCCCS requires DCS to refer children removed from their homes to behavioral health services within 72 hours after entering its care and custody. The purpose is to:

  • Identify immediate behavioral health needs and presenting problems of children removed from their homes, to stabilize crises, enroll the child in the behavioral health system and offer the immediate services and supports each given child may need.
  • Provide direct (therapeutic) support to each child removed from their home as appropriate, intending to reduce stress or anxiety and address any trauma the child may be experiencing
  • Provide direct support to each child’s new caregiver as appropriate, including guidance about how to respond to the child’s immediate behavioral health needs
    • Are you a foster parent looking for more information about your child’s behaviors or diagnosis? Check out Facts for Families.
  • Identify a point of contact within the behavioral health system. Mercy Care DCS-CHP contacts for behavioral health can be found at the Mercy Care DCS-CHP website. You can also find contact information for DCS here.
  • Initiate the development of a Child and Family Team process
  • Provide the DCS Specialist with findings and recommendations, related to the behavioral health needs of each child prior to the Preliminary Protective Hearing, if possible, not to exceed five calendar days from the referral

If the child in your care is new to the system and has NOT been assessed within 72 hours or you need additional information for your child, to schedule an assessment please call: Mercy Care DCS-CHP Member Services: 1-800-322-8670 or our Mercy Care DCS-CHP Dedicated Foster Care Hotline: 602-633-0763

BCBSAZ-Health Choice has a network of providers to serve adolescents who are experiencing substance use disorder and support their families.  Youths can learn how to recover from alcohol and substance abuse through a variety of ways to include intensive outpatient services and behavioral health residential facilities that specialize in substance use disorder.

It is highly encouraged that families of adolescents in treatment participate in the treatment journey.

Strong, positive family bonds and family involvement in children’s lives are protective and recovery factors for adolescents experiencing substance abuse. –National Institute on Drug Abuse

Some methods of recovery include:

  • Support groups
  • Counseling
  • Family and group counseling
  • Self-help

BCBSAZ Health Choice’s contracted providers use evidence-based treatment models to serve their clients. These programs can help to build the skills needed to overcome addiction. Some of those programs include:

  • Seven Challenges
  • Matrix Model
  • Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA)
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment
  • Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

For more information about BCBSAZ Health Choice’s youth substance abuse programs, and assistance contacting a local provider, please call our Member Services at 1-800-322-8670.

Families who have adopted a child and are receiving federally funded adoption subsidy payments are considered Medicaid eligible. AHCCCS and our contracted Behavioral Health Homes can assist in perusing Medicaid coverage.

Adoptive children follow the same enrollment process as other Medicaid-eligible children. For physical health, adoptive parents choose from a range of health plans that cover all medical and dental services.

For more information about what benefits AHCCCS offers, see: AHCCCS Programs and Covered Services 

For Behavioral Health benefits information contact BCBSAZ Health Choice at  1-800-322-8670