Child and Adolescent Service System Program
(and what can it do for me?)
What is CASSP and Who is it For?
CASSP is an acronym that stands for Child and Adolescent Service System Program. CASSP is a comprehensive mental health service system for children, adolescents and their families. If your child or teenager or someone you know is having emotional problems or has been diagnosed with a severe emotional disturbance he or she may be eligible for CASSP services. CASSP services are free and help children and adolescents and their families gain access to a variety of mental health, educational, family support and other related services.
Why is CASSP Comprehensive?
CASSP is “comprehensive” because it works across different agencies to coordinate services. Say a child is having problems at school and with the juvenile justice system, and has emotional problems, CASSP can bring together those who are directly involved in the child’s life to create a plan that meets the child’s needs in each area of his or her life. Families are encouraged to have anyone they see as a support participate in the meeting.
How CASSP Works.
When a child is identified as having mental health needs and requires other services as well (like education), a CASSP interagency team meets to discuss the options for treatment, care and support. The team is lead by the CASSP coordinator and it consists of the parents, advocates and other key people in the child’s life including professionals and others the parents may choose.
How Do I Get Started With CASSP?
will need to fill out a CASSP referral form.
Forms may be obtained at the child’s school or by calling the CASSP
coordinator at (814) 726-8434. If you
need help completing the referral form, contact the school counselor or the
CASSP coordinator. Mail the completed
form to the CASSP Office at
What Services Can CASSP Help Me Access?
CASSP is used to gain access to mental health residential treatment services (RTF) and “wrap around” services, which include therapeutic staff support (TSS), mobile therapy and behavioral specialist consultant. These services can only be paid for through medical assistance (MA) and MA regulations require that a CASSP meeting is held. CASSP may also be used to access services through Family Based Mental Health, Family Preservation, Mental Retardation, Early Intervention, Student Assistance programs and case management services.
How Did CASSP Come Into Existence?
was first established by federal regulations in 1984 when Congress became aware
that many children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance were not
receiving appropriate services and were “falling through the cracks”. The federal government enacted legislation
that funded states to develop a system and encourage coordination between child
serving systems. The Pennsylvania
Department of Public Welfare (DPW) has a state CASSP Advisory Committee made up
of parents, advocates, service providers, mental health professionals and
The 6 CASSP Principles:
Child Centered – services are developmentally appropriate, strength based, child specific and meet the individual needs of the child.
Family Focused – services recognize that the family is a primary support system for the child and that the family participates as a full partner in all stages of decision making and treatment planning for their child and family.
Community Based – whenever possible services are delivered in the child’s community and draw on formal and informal resources of the child and family such as social, religious, and cultural organizations as well as other community supports.
Multi-System – services are planned in collaboration with all child-serving systems involved in the child’s life.
Culturally Competent – services recognize and respect the behavior, ideas, attitudes, values, beliefs, customs, languages, rituals, and practices characteristic to the family’s cultural group.
Least Restrictive/Least Intrusive – services take place that are most appropriate and natural to the child and family and are the least restrictive and intrusive available to meet the needs of the child and family.
Local CASSP Contacts and Others Who Can Help
(Mental Health Association of
Other Agencies and Websites That Can Help
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (legal information)
OMHSAS (Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services) Toll Free Information/Referral Line
Parent Education Network
Pennsylvania Department of Education Consult Line
(Questions about special education)
Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
National Mental Health Association
(Information and Referral)