Anxious Child

If you have a child who is struggling with mental health or an emotional disorder, Child and Adolescent Crisis Team Intervention Services — CACTIS —can help.

The 25-year-old CACTIS program, part of resolve Crisis Services, helps children and adolescents with emotional disorders who are at high risk for psychiatric hospitalization or out-of-home placement. The program serves all Allegheny County residents.

CACTIS’s trained clinicians can help your child at home or at school. They can even assist with helping your child get to school.

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How CACTIS Helps Children and Families

Both resolve Crisis Services and CACTIS aim to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations.

CACTIS has a much broader scope. “We are a hospital diversion program, but we’re not just crisis based. We’re proactive,” says Danielle, a crisis clinician at CACTIS. “We are flexible in providing whatever a child needs.”

Families waiting for treatment often use CACTIS as a bridge. For example, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital may refer a child for treatment, but parents must wait for that first appointment.

“We can provide ongoing support until they get into the treatment they were referred to,” says Danielle. The CACTIS team schedules home visits with families before or between treatments to see how they can be of help.

Parents also can schedule a home visit for added support during a specific situation. For example, a child with a history of behavioral issues may not react well to having a cell phone taken away. A two-person team of CACTIS clinicians can be on hand to help.

CACTIS clinicians get to know the families and children they work with. “We get enmeshed to make sure we assess all their needs,” says Danielle.

Other services CACTIS provides include:

  • Linking families to other providers in Allegheny County. From behavioral health programs to addiction services, CACTIS connects families to support.
  • Providing support such as transportation. CACTIS also can make sure a child receives a psychiatric evaluation, if needed.
  • Helping to diffuse a crisis at school or day care. If called by a school to help with a child, the CACTIS team tries to arrive within an hour.
  • Attending interagency, treatment team, and school meetings to assist in developing a crisis plan.
  • Providing 24/7 crisis support through resolve Crisis Services. Parents or children can call 1-888-796-8226 for immediate help with a crisis.

How to Enroll in the CACTIS Program

“You have to be enrolled in CACTIS to get CACTIS support, but you can always get immediate help with resolve Crisis Services,” says Paige, a crisis clinician for CACTIS. “To enroll, a family needs a referral from a hospital, CYF [Office of Children, Youth, and Families), a school counselor, or any mental health provider.”

After a referred family reaches out, the CACTIS team goes to the home to complete an intake form. The interview takes about 45 minutes. A child who is age 14 or older must be present and must agree to being enrolled in CACTIS.

CACTIS receives between 80 and 110 referrals a month. “The numbers have been growing lately. The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely created more anxiety. Family stress levels are really high now,” says Paige.

CACTIS works with families from across Allegheny County and at every income level.

Who Is Eligible for CACTIS Services and How to Contact CACTIS

CACTIS works with children as young as age 2 and can continue working with a child or adolescent until the age of 21. CACTIS services are free for any resident of Allegheny County.

For more information about CACTIS or if you have been referred by a provider, call the intake line at 412-864-5065.

If your child is in crisis and you need immediate help, call resolve Crisis Services at 1-888-796-8226. Trained crisis clinicians answer the phone 24/7, 365 days a year.

About UPMC Western Behavioral Health

UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is the hub of UPMC Behavioral Health, a network of community-based programs providing specialized mental health and addiction care for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Our mission is to provide comprehensive, compassionate care to people of all ages with mental health conditions. UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in mental health clinical care, research, and education. It is one of the nation’s foremost university-based psychiatric care facilities through its integration with the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. We are here to help at every stage of your care and recovery.