AB 114: Special Education Transition

On June 30, 2011, Assembly Bill 114, Chapter 43, was signed into law. Under AB 114, the state mandate requiring county mental health agencies to provide mental health services to students with disabilities was rendered inoperative. AB 114 requires that all California school districts are solely responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities, as designated by their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), receive the mental health services necessary to benefit from a special education program. 


Disaster Preparedness

Disasters often strike quickly and without warning. They can be traumatic for children and youth, especially if they don’t know what to do or where to go. Disaster preparedness can ensure that you have the necessary resources, medications, or supports for your child or youth if you must leave your home or city. Preparedness also ensures that parents and families are equipped to help their children understand what is happening and to respond to their needs.


Public Policy Affects Us All

Public policy affects us all. Public policy refers primarily to rules, laws and budget decisions made at all levels of government – local, county, state and federal. These decisions determine the expectations of society and government, what government’s role is in the lives of its citizens and the type of support the government will provide for children, families and others.


Stakeholder Meetings

A stakeholder is anyone who may be affected by or have an effect on an effort, policy, or decision.  Stakeholder participation and input is critical to ensure that decisions made on behalf of children and families are made by parents and families. That means involving as many as possible of those who are affected by or have an interest in any project, initiative, intervention, or effort.  We believe strongly that involving parents, families, and caregivers will lead to a better process, greater community support, more ideas on the table, a better understanding of the communit


Advocacy Support

Meeting the mental health needs of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs is a persistent challenge. Children and youth with mental  health issues deserve access to the best possible mental health care but unfortunately, such services can be difficult to obtain. Parents, caregivers, and family members can help by being informed, involved and persistent advocates.


The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which seeks to make health insurance coverage more affordable for individuals and families and the owners of small businesses.

When fully implemented, the law will provide access to coverage for an estimated 32 million Americans who are now uninsured as well as prohibiting such practices as excluding people from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, placing annual or lifetime caps on coverage, banning rescission of coverage, and establishing basic minimum benefit packages.



Bullying is a widespread issue in our schools and communities that can affect the quality of the school environment, a students’ academic and social outcome, and can cause victims emotional and psychological trauma, and, in extreme cases, lead to serious violence. UACF is dedicated to providing information to help parents and teachers ensure that children understand the appropriate way to treat others, and are not victimized by cruel or threatening behavior.


California County Behavioral Health Departments

California’s public mental health system offers an array of community and hospital-based services that are available to anyone with mental health issues.  Services administered by the state, and directly provided or arranged for by local (county) mental health departments include rehabilitation and support, evaluation and assessment, residential treatment, medication education, individual service planning, and wraparound services.


What is Cultural Competancy?

Cultural competency is critical to reducing health disparities and improving access to high-quality health care, health care that is respectful of and responsive to the needs of diverse patients. When developed and implemented as a framework, cultural competence enables systems, agencies, and groups of professionals to function effectively to understand the needs of groups accessing health information and health care—or participating in research-in an inclusive partnership where the provider and the user of the information meet on common ground.


Crisis Hotlines

If you, or someone you know is in crisis, please seek help immediately. You can also contact the following organizations for information about 24-hour crisis services in your area.

In areas where 211 is available, dialing this number can connect you with mental health crisis services in your area or help you find where to seek immediate help in your area.


Family Resource Centers Network of California (FRCNCA)

All of California’s 47 Family Resource Centers, funded by the Department of Developmental Services,  serve families of children with disabilities and the professionals who serve them.  Many have additional funding that allows them to serve families of older children as well as youth and adults with disabilities.

Local Family Resource Centers provide families with support and help including:

  • Parent-to-Parent peer support services
  • Training and conferences
  • General information
  • Referral services


Accessible Services

Services that are affordable, located nearby, and open during evenings and weekends. Staff is sensitive to and incorporates individual and cultural values. Staff is also sensitive to barriers that may keep a person from getting help. For example, an adolescent may be more willing to attend a support group meeting in a church or club near home than to travel to a mental health center. An accessible service can handle consumer demand without placing people on a long waiting list.

Appropriate Services

Designed to meet the specific needs of each individual child and family. For example, one family may need day treatment, while another may need home-based services. Appropriate services for one child and family may not be appropriate for another. Appropriate services usually are provided in the child’s community.


A professional review of child and family needs that is done when services are first sought from a caregiver. The assessment of the child includes a review of physical and mental health, intelligence, school performance, family situation, and behavior in the community. The assessment identifies the strengths of the child and family. Together, the caregiver and family decide what kind of treatment and supports, if any, are needed.


A person who has special training to help people with mental health problems. Examples include social workers, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and mentors.

Case Manager

An individual who organizes and coordinates services and supports for children with mental health problems and their families. (Alternate terms: service coordinator, advocate, and facilitator.)

Case Management

A service that helps people arrange for appropriate services and supports. A case manager coordinates mental health, social work, educational, health, vocational, transportation, advocacy, respite care, and recreational services, as needed. The case manager makes sure that the changing needs of the child and family are met. (This definition does not apply to managed care.)

Child Protective Services (CPS)

Designed to safeguard the child when abuse, neglect, or abandonment is suspected, or when there is no family to take care of the child. Examples of help delivered in the home include financial assistance, vocational training, homemaker services, and daycare. If in-home supports are insufficient, the child may be removed from the home on a temporary or permanent basis. Ideally, the goal is to keep the child with the family whenever possible.

Children and Adolescents at Risk for Mental Health Problems

Children are at greater risk for developing mental health problems when certain factors occur in their lives or environments. Factors include physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect, harmful stress, discrimination, poverty, loss of a loved one, frequent relocation, alcohol and other drug use, trauma, and exposure to violence.

Continuum of Care

A term that implies a progression of services that a child moves through, usually one service at a time. More recently, it has come to mean comprehensive services. Also see system of care and wraparound services.

Coordinated Services

Child-serving organizations talk with the family and agree upon a plan of care that meets the child’s needs. These organizations can include mental health, education, juvenile justice, and child welfare. Case management is necessary to coordinate services. Also see family-centered services and wraparound services.

Crisis Residential Treatment Services

Short-term, round-the-clock help provided in a nonhospital setting during a crisis. For example, when a child becomes aggressive and uncontrollable, despite in-home supports, a parent can temporarily place the child in a crisis residential treatment service. The purposes of this care are to avoid inpatient hospitalization, help stabilize the child, and determine the next appropriate step.

Cultural Competence

Help that is sensitive and responsive to cultural differences. Caregivers are aware of the impact of culture and possess skills to help provide services that respond appropriately to a person’s unique cultural differences, including race and ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or physical disability. They also adapt their skills to fit a family’s values and customs.

Day Treatment

Day treatment includes special education, counseling, parent training, vocational training, skill building, crisis intervention, and recreational therapy. It lasts at least 4 hours a day. Day treatment programs work in conjunction with mental health, recreation, and education organizations and may even be provided by them.

DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

An official manual of mental health problems developed by the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other health and mental health care providers use this reference book to understand and diagnose mental health problems. Insurance companies and health care providers also use the terms and explanations in this book when discussing mental health problems. Current edition is DSM V.

Early Intervention

A process used to recognize warning signs for mental health problems and to take early action against factors that put individuals at risk. Early intervention can help children get better in less time and can prevent problems from becoming worse. Also referred to as Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI).

Emergency and Crisis Services

A group of services that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help during a mental health emergency. Examples include telephone crisis hotlines, suicide hotlines, crisis counseling, crisis residential treatment services, crisis outreach teams, and crisis respite care.

Family-Centered Services

Help designed to meet the specific needs of each individual child and family. Children and families should not be expected to fit into services that do not meet their needs. Also see appropriate services, coordinated services, wraparound services, and cultural competence.

Family Support Services

Help designed to keep the family together, while coping with mental health problems that affect them. These services may include consumer information workshops, in-home supports, family therapy, parenting training, crisis services, and respite care.

Home-Based Services

Help provided in a family’s home either for a defined period of time or for as long as it takes to deal with a mental health problem. Examples include parent training, counseling, and working with family members to identify, find, or provide other necessary help. The goal is to prevent the child from being placed outside of the home. (Alternate term: in-home supports.)

Independent Living Services

Support for a young person living on his or her own. These services include therapeutic group homes, supervised apartment living, and job placement. Services teach youth how to handle financial, medical, housing, transportation, and other daily living needs, as well as how to get along with others.

Individualized Services

Services designed to meet the unique needs of each child and family. Services are individualized when the caregivers pay attention to the needs and strengths, ages, and stages of development of the child and individual family members. Also see appropriate services and family-centered services.

Inpatient Hospitalization

Mental health treatment provided in a hospital setting 24 hours a day. Inpatient hospitalization provides: (1) short-term treatment in cases where a child is in crisis and possibly a danger to his/herself or others, and (2) diagnosis and treatment when the patient cannot be evaluated or treated appropriately in an outpatient setting.

Managed Care

A way to supervise the delivery of health care services. Managed care may specify which caregivers the insured family can see and may also limit the number of visits and kinds of services that are covered by insurance.

Mental Health

How a person thinks, feels, and acts when faced with life’s situations. Mental health is how people look at themselves, their lives, and the other people in their lives; evaluate their challenges and problems; and explore choices. This includes handling stress, relating to other people, and making decisions.

Mental Health Problems

Mental health problems are real. They affect one’s thoughts, body, feelings, and behavior. Mental health problems are not just a passing phase. They can be severe, seriously interfere with a person’s life, and even cause a person to become disabled. Mental health problems include depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and conduct disorder.

Mental Disorders

Another term used for mental health problems.

Mental Illnesses

This term is usually used to refer to severe mental health problems in children, youth, or adults.

Plan of Care

A treatment plan especially designed for each child and family, based on individual strengths and needs. The caregiver(s) develop(s) the plan with input from the family. The plan establishes goals and details appropriate treatment and services to meet the special needs of the child and family.

Residential Treatment Centers

Facilities that provide treatment 24 hours a day and can usually serve more than 12 young people at a time. Children with serious emotional disturbances receive constant supervision and care. Treatment may include individual, group, and family therapy; behavior therapy; special education; recreation therapy; and medical services. Residential treatment is usually more long-term than inpatient hospitalization. Centers are also known as therapeutic group homes.

Respite Care

A service that provides a break for parents who have a child with a serious emotional disturbance. Trained parents or counselors take care of the child for a brief period of time to give families relief from the strain of caring for the child. This type of care can be provided in the home or in another location. Some parents may need this help every week.

Serious Emotional Disturbances

Diagnosable disorders in children and adolescents that severely disrupt their daily functioning in the home, school, or community. Serious emotional disturbances affect one in 10 young people. These disorders include depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity, anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, and eating disorders.


A type of support or clinical intervention designed to address the specific mental health needs of a child and his or her family. A service could be provided only one time or repeated over a course of time, as determined by the child, family, and service provider.


About the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS)

The state of California offers different health care programs and services through the DHCS including help for children in foster care, children with special medical conditions and those needing personal care. They also provide help to families to determine eligibility for services and programs.


IEPs, 504 Plans, and Special Education

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written education plan developed for each public school child who is eligible for special education. The 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation.


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Locate a Treatment Facility

If you or a loved one needs immediate help, please call 911. For information regarding available resources in California, see below. If you feel that we have missed an opportunity to provide additional information, please contact UACF today.


Military Families

UACF is dedicated to supporting the many brave service men and women of our U.S. military. We strive to provide resources and support to families and communities to ensure that needed behavioral health services are accessible.


Parent Partners

Parent Partners, also referred to as Parent Advocates, Family Advocates, or Family Partners are parents or primary caregivers working in the public mental health systems who are raising (or have raised) a child or youth who has emotional or behavioral challenges and has experience in advocating for their child in multiple settings or systems.


Transition Age Youth (TAY)

Transition Age Youth (TAY) are young people between the ages of 16-24 years who are in transition from state custody or foster care and are considered “at-risk”. Once they turn 18 they can no longer receive assistance from the systems of care that previously provided for many of their needs.


UACF Hope Line

The UACF Hope Line is a message system for parents and caregivers that provides resources and connections to individuals in your community that may be able to assist you in finding appropriate support services for your child’s mental health needs. Feel free to leave a message on the UACF Hope Line and your call will be returned as promptly as possible.

If you or a loved one is in crisis, please call 911. If you need general information or referrals to resources in your community, please contact us at 1-877-ASK-UACF (275-8223).

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Become a member today and join our statewide network of parents, families, caregivers, and professionals dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth!

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Have questions?

Visit our Resources section for more information on how to understand your child’s IEP, how to contact local legislators, or for help with locating a treatment facility in your neighborhood.

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The transition of AB 3632 to AB114

AB 3632 is now AB 144. What does this mean for your child’s IEP? 

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Need Immediate Help?

If you or a loved one is in immediate crisis, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.

The UACF Hope Line is a message system for parents and caregivers that provides resources and connections to individuals in your community that may be able to assist you in finding appropriate support services for your child’s mental health needs. Feel free to leave a message on the UACF Hope Line and your call will be returned as promptly as possible.

Hope Line: 1-877-ASK-UACF (275-8223)