Children’s Mental Health Residential Treatment Center Project

The Residential Treatment Center (RTC) Project is a partnership between the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to provide children with intensive mental health care in an RTC setting while their guardian keeps legal responsibility for their child.

What is an RTC?

An RTC provides therapeutic, residential care for children to address needs such as mental illness, substance use or other behavioral health problems. Children live in an RTC for a short period of time as they work to meet their treatment goals. Children who receive services through an RTC have typically tried other outpatient services and are unable to be supported at home or in their community due to their mental health needs. Residential treatment services can provide time and space for families and their children to heal and rebuild.

What is the Goal of the RTC Project?

The RTC Project supports families with a child at risk of entering DFPS custody due to their mental health care needs and after exhausting community mental health resources. The RTC Project supports families by:

  • Connecting families to mental health services available in their community through their local mental health authority (LMHA) or local behavioral health authority (LBHA).
  • Paying for the cost of an RTC to meet their child's mental health needs when families do not have the resources to pay for residential placement.

How Does the RTC Project Work?

Through the RTC Project, families are matched with a state-funded residential placement for their child while maintaining full custody and rights as a parent or guardian. At the RTC, children participate in intensive mental health services such as individual, family and group therapy. While their child is in residential care, families participate in community mental health services at their LMHA or LBHA such as case management, family partner services and skills training.

What Are the Benefits of the RTC Project?

The RTC Project:

  • Prevents the child from being legally removed from the family to receive needed mental health treatment services in a residential setting.
  • Helps the child learn how to manage symptoms of serious emotional disturbance.
  • Helps the family learn skills for healthier relationships.
  • Provides a safe place for the child to learn how to positively express emotions and live with others.
  • Connects children and families to community mental health resources.

Who is Eligible for the RTC Project?

  • The child is a resident of Texas.
  • The child is younger than 18 years old.
  • The child has a qualifying serious emotional disturbance.
  • The child is eligible to be in an RTC.
  • The child must not be in the custody of DFPS through joint, temporary or permanent managing conservatorship.
  • There is no current abuse or neglect in the household.
  • The family may be placing their child into DFPS custody because of the seriousness of their child’s mental health needs.
  • The family will support the mental health needs of their child throughout the RTC treatment process.

What Services do Families Receive?

At the RTC, children take part in regular services including:

  • Weekly individual and group therapy
  • Weekly family therapy
  • Medication management, as needed
  • Ongoing medical care on a routine and as-needed basis
  • Educational services
  • Social, recreational and habilitative services

Through the RTC Project, families participate in:

  • Weekly family therapy with their child
  • Regular treatment team meetings for their child
  • Routine case management through the LMHA or LBHA
  • Skills training
  • Family partner services

Who Pays for Services?

HHSC pays for room and board at the RTC facility. Other medical and mental health services — such as therapy, dental care and routine or emergency care — are billed to the child’s insurance. For children who are not insured, contact the LMHA or LBHA for information about how the child might still access services.

How Does the RTC Project Identify Residential Placement?

HHSC works with its contracted RTC facilities to provide residential care for children. Finding the best RTC facility requires matching each child’s individual treatment needs with the therapeutic strengths and specializations of the RTC facility. Contracted RTC providers review each child's application packet to determine whether they can meet the child’s treatment needs. The LMHA or LBHA will notify families once a child is accepted for admission.

The RTC Project does not guarantee a child will get RTC services. If a child is not placed in an RTC through the RTC Project, the LMHA or LBHA will notify families of additional community mental health services. The DFPS case worker may also discuss alternative options the family may be eligible for.

HHSC will only try to find placement through contracted RTC Project facilities.

How Long Does the Program Last?

The average length of time in the RTC Project is six months. However, each child’s individual needs will determine duration of stay. This is determined in collaboration with the child’s clinical team.

How Can I Get Help Through the RTC Project?

Families interested in getting help through the RTC Project can call their LMHA or LBHA to ask for a referral to the RTC Project. The LMHA or LBHA will send the referral directly to HHSC.

Find your LMHA or LBHA here.