Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health Services


Brief Overview of the Children’s Bureau

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 specific focus on the needs of children with emotional problems is compelling. The National Institute 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,  
  • working with the OMHSAS Children’s Advisory Committee,
  • working with family and youth advocates,
  • as well as state and local child-serving systems.

Bureau Organization

Division of Policy, Planning and Program Development: 

  • responsible for working with state agencies and
  • family and youth advocacy organizations
  • in the development of policy, integrated planning and review of service descriptions for new programs.


Division of Operations and Service Delivery: responsible for working with

  • the OMHSAS Field Offices,
  • County MH/IDD Programs,
  • Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations and
  • provider agencies in the development and management of children’s behavioral health services


The mission of the Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health Services is to promote the emotional well-being of children and ensure that children with emotional and behavioral challenges disorders live, learn, work and thrive in their communities.

The bureau supports the objective of the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services that is specifically related to the behavioral health needs of children and adolescents: to transform the children’s behavioral health system to a system that is family driven and youth-driven.


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:


  1. In the child welfare system
  2. In, or at risk of entering, the juvenile justice system
  3. In the drug and alcohol system
  4. With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  5. Who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
  6. With traumatic brain injury
  7. With Autism Spectrum Disorder or other Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  8. With physical disabilities
  9. At risk for suicide

Director Shannon Fagan

P. O. Box 2675
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675
Receptionist: 717-705-8289
Fax: 717-705-8268

Adapted from Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health Services

Selected Publications and Resources