The Voluntary Services program is a DCF operated program for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances, mental illnesses and/or substance dependency. This program is only for families who are not abusive or neglectful. The Voluntary Services Program emphasizes a community-based approach and attempts to coordinate service delivery across multiple agencies. Parents and families are critical participants in this program and are required to participate in the planning and delivery of services for their child or youth. The Voluntary Services Program promotes positive development and reduces reliance on restrictive forms of treatment and out-of-home placement.
DCF may provide, on a voluntary basis (at the request of the family), casework, community referrals and treatment services for children who are not committed to the Department. These are youth who do not require protective services intervention, but may require any of the services offered, administered by, under contract with or otherwise available to the Department of Children and Families due to emotional or behavioral difficulties.
The Voluntary Services Program is designed for children and youth who have behavioral health needs and who are in need of services that they do not otherwise have access to. Parents do not have to relinquish custody or guardianship under this program. The DCF policy outlines eligibility requirements for this program.
The participation of parents in both treatment planning and treatment is both welcome and expected. Also, if a child is placed outside the home to address the child’s behavioral health needs, the treatment plan will outline a comprehensive plan for the return home.
Families can initiate an application by calling DCF’s Careline at 1-800-842-2288.
Please note, only families or eligible children can request the Voluntary Services Program. Youth must be 14 years of age to make such a request personally. Providers cannot make a request. The Careline will take initial information and send the case to the family’s local DCF Area Office for follow up with a mailed application packet and a telephone call from a social worker..
Families are expected to do the following:
- Call the Careline at 1-800-842-2288.
- Provide the Department with the following information:
- written reports from service providers;
- a current psychiatric or psychological evaluation, if one exists, which addresses the child or youth’s treatment needs;
- releases of information forms;
- required financial information; and
- insurance information.
The family must also make household members available to meet with a social worker during home visits conducted for assessment purposes.
Families applying for the Voluntary Services Program have sixty (60) days from receiving the application from the Area Office to submit the completed application and all the required materials. A cover letter will be included with the application packet that provides additional information.
Once the application and a comprehensive eligibility assessment are completed, the Area Office social worker will inform the family that either of the following has been decided:
- the application is approved; or
- the application is denied based on the availability of resources or the inability of the child or youth to meet eligibility requirements.
If a child or youth is deemed ineligible for the Voluntary Services Program, the family and youth have the right to an Administrative Hearing.
For additional information, please contact: DCF’s Careline at 1-800-842-2288.