Child & Adolescent Services (CASSP)

Kayloni McQuillan
CASSP Coordinator
Phone: 814-726-2100 ext. 8434
Email: mcquillank(at) 

CASSP is based on a well-defined set of principles for mental health services for children and adolescents with or at risk of developing severe emotional disorders and their families.  These principles are summarized in six core statements:

  1. Child-centered: Services are planned to meet the individual needs of the child, rather than to fit the child into an existing service. Services consider the child's family and community contexts, are developmentally appropriate and child-specific, and build on the strengths of the child and family to meet the mental health, social and physical needs of the child.
  2. Family-focused: The family is the primary support system for the child and it is important to help empower the family to advocate for themselves. The family participates as a full partner in all stages of the decision-making and treatment planning process including implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. A family may include biological, adoptive and foster parents, siblings, grandparents, other relatives, and other adults who are committed to the child. The development of mental health policy at state and local levels includes family representation.
  3. Community-based: Whenever possible, services are delivered in the child's home community, drawing on formal and informal resources to promote the child's successful participation in the community. Community resources include not only mental health professionals and provider agencies but also social, religious, cultural organizations and other natural community support networks.
  4. Multi-system: Services are planned in collaboration with all the child-serving systems involved in the child's life. Representatives from all these systems and the family collaborate to define the goals for the child, develop a service plan, develop the necessary resources to implement the plan, provide appropriate support to the child and family, and evaluate progress.
  5. Culturally competent: Culture determines our worldview and provides a general design for living and patterns for interpreting reality that are reflected in our behavior. Therefore, services that are culturally competent are provided by individuals who have the skills to recognize and respect the behavior, ideas, attitudes, values, beliefs, customs, language, rituals, ceremonies and practices characteristic of a particular group of people.
  6. Least restrictive/least intrusive: Services take place in settings that are the most appropriate and natural for the child and family and are the least restrictive and intrusive available to meet the needs of the child and family.

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.

CASSP can help you locate the appropriate services in Forest and Warren Counties for any child who is 18 or younger (21 if involved in special education) and is:

  1. experiencing significantly diminished functioning, physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, or social areas
  2. Receiving services from two or more child-serving agencies
  3. You must live in Warren/ Forest County
  4. is at risk for out-of-home placement 

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?

You 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.  Turn the completed form into your school or email it to mcquillank(at) or cassp(at)   If you are not sure whether CASSP could help your child or adolescent, contact the CASSP coordinator or the family advocate at (814) 726-8406 to discuss your situation.

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?

CASSP 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 county CASSP coordinators who help advise DPW and state officials on matters pertaining to mental health and other services for children, adolescents and their families.  The goal is to develop a comprehensive system of services of care that follows the 6 CASSP principles.  Warren County also has a local CASSP Advisory Board made up of parents, advocates and professionals from the child-serving systems.  The CASSP philosophy is that services to the child, adolescent and their family should follow the 6 CASSP principles.

Other Agencies and Websites That Can Help

Education Law Center
Phone: 1-215-238-6970
Email:  elc(at)elc/

Juvenile Law Center
Phone: 1-800-875-8887
Email:  rschwartz(at) (legal information)

OMHSAS (Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services)
Toll Free Information/Referral Line
Phone:  1-877-356-5355       

Parent Education Network
Phone:  1-800-522-5827
Email: pen.parent(at)

Pennsylvania Department of Education Consult Line
Phone: 1-800-879-2301
(Questions about special education)

Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
Phone: 1-703-836-1040
Email:  ffcmh(at)

National Alliance for Mentally Ill-Child and Adolescent Network (NAMI-CAN)
Phone: 1-800-950-6264

National Mental Health Association
Phone: 1-800-969-6642