​Bureau of Children's Behavioral Health Services

The Children's Bureau was re-established in 2003, following a reorganization of the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in 1997. The bureau was reinstated to provide the vision and leadership for bringing together state and local resources to support children with serious emotional and behavioral challenges and their families.

The need for a specific focus on the needs of children with emotional problems is compelling. The National Institue of Health notes that "Mental health problems can disrupt daily life at home, at school or in the community. Without help, mental health problems can lead to school failure, alcohol or other drug abuse, family discord, violence or even suicide. However, help is available."

The Children's Bureau is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive plan for serving children and adolescents with behavioral health needs in the Commonwealth. Functions include program development, policy development, service monitoring, and working with the OMHSAS Children's Advisory Committee, family and youth advocates, as well as state and local child-serving systems.Supporting priorities:

  • Establish child and family teams and implementation of high-fidelity wraparound through the work of the Youth and Family Training Institute
  • Create home and community-based alternatives to residential treatment
  • Partner with the Department of Education to support the development of effective school-based supports and interventions, including the Student Assistance Program and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
  • Develop a process for identifying and implementing evidence-based practices, promising practices, and culturally relevant practices
  • Develop strategies to address the needs of transition age youth
  • Create behavioral health competency to honor the strengths and address the unique individualized needs of infants and toddlers as well as children and adolescents who are/have:
    • In the child welfare system
    • In, or at risk of entering, the juvenile justice system
    • In the drug and alcohol system
    • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
    • Deaf or hard-of-hearing
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder or other Pervasive Developmental Disorder
    • Physical disabilities
    • At risk for suicide

Bureau Organization

  • Division of Operations and Service Delivery: responsible for working with the OMHSAS field offices, county mental health and intellectual disability program offices, Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations and provider agencies in the development and management of children's behavioral health services
  • Division of Policy, Planning, and Program Development: responsible for working with state agencies, family, and youth advocacy organizations in the development of policy, integrated planning, and review of service descriptions for new programs

Selected Publications and Resources

Contact Information:

Scott Talley, Director
P. O. Box 2675
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675

Receptionist: 717-705-8289
Fax: 717-705-8268