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Community Action Treatment Teams (CAT)

Program Description

Community Action Treatment (CAT) Teams strive to help children and young adults with behavioral health concerns to recover at home safely. These teams also assist families in building and maintaining a support system within their community. CAT is a safe and effective alternative to out-of-home treatment or residential care for children with serious behavioral health conditions. 

Program Eligibility

  • Children and young adults with serious behavioral health conditions
  • Youth with complex needs that contribute to family disruption or increase the risk of family separation such as:
    • Multiple behavioral health hospitalizations
    • Involvement with the Department of Juvenile Justice or law enforcement
    • School challenges like poor academic performance or suspensions
    • Repeated failures at lower levels of care

Youth younger than 11 years old may be able to receive services if they have more than one of the needs described above.

Where to find services

There are over 60 CAT Teams providing services to youth and families throughout the state. To find a team that serves your county, visit the Specialty Treatment Team Maps

Treatment Models

Traditional CAT Teams serve children and young adults with a behavioral health condition and at risk of out-of-home placement.

Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) Teams serve families where the child(ren), parent(s), or caregiver(s) have a behavioral health condition that contributes to risk of family separation or child out-of-placement.

Family Support Teams (FST) serve families where frequent use of emergency psychiatric services contributes to family separation or child out-of-home placement. 

Treatment Team Staff

The CAT model uses a team of individuals to comprehensively address the needs of the youth and their families that includes:

  • A Team Leader,
  • Mental Health Clinicians,
  • A Psychiatrist or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse,
  • A Registered or Licensed Practical Nurse,
  • A Case Manager,
  • Therapeutic Mentor or Certified Peer Specialist, and
  • Support Staff.

Services Offered

CAT Teams use an in-home/on-site approach to make sure youth and their families receive the appropriate services to improve functioning and manage their behavioral health concerns.

A few of the services offered by CAT Teams are described below:

Care Coordination

Care coordination works to connect youth with local services and resources to improve their mental health. These temporary services help youth and their families find supports in the community that can meet their needs. Care coordination connects systems including behavioral health, primary care, peer and natural supports, housing, education, vocation, and the justice systems. 

Case Management

Case management coordinates care, advocates on behalf of the participant, and provides access to a variety of services and supports, such as primary health care, basic needs such as housing and transportation, educational and employment services, and legal services.

Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention is used to address an immediate mental health emergency, stabilize the individual in crisis, and create and implement a safe, appropriate plan for next steps and future treatment.


Clinicians provide and coordinate individual, group, and family therapy services. The type, frequency, and location of therapy provided are based on individual needs and use evidenced-based techniques for that individual and their symptoms and behaviors.

Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment

Mental health and substance use treatment refers to interventions that address behavioral health and substance use concerns of the individual. Treatment may include medication, counseling, behavioral modification, peer support, therapy services, and support groups. Treatment may vary depending on the individual’s needs and preferences and may involve a combination of different approaches.


Psychoeducation is an evidence-based therapeutic intervention that provides information and support to youth and their families about their mental health condition and treatment. CAT Teams provide participants with parenting interventions for child-parenting relationships and parenting skills, behavior modifications to address the child’s behavioral concerns, independent living skills, and additional interventions as appropriate.

Respite Care

Respite care offers short-term support to families and primary caregivers for youth, such as hourly services or overnight stays. Typically, these services are for youth with behavioral health concerns that would need a hospital stay if respite care was not an option.

Transportation Assistance

Support staff assists with transportation to medical appointments, court hearings, or other related activities outlined in the care plan.