Children’s Mental Health Residential Treatment Center Project


The Residential Treatment Center Project is a partnership between the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and HHSC to provide intensive support for families with a child or adolescent at risk of being legally removed due to mental health needs.

What is an RTC?

A residential treatment center provides therapeutic, residential care for children and adolescents to address needs such as mental illness, substance use or other behavioral health problems. Children and adolescents live in an RTC for a short period of time as they work to meet their treatment goals. Children and adolescents 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 helps to prevent families from relinquishing their parental rights to DFPS by:

  • Connecting families to mental health services available in their community through their local mental health authority or local behavioral health authority.
  • Providing state-funded residential placement to meet their child or adolescent’s mental health needs when families do not have the resources to access residential placement.

How Does the RTC Project Work?

Through the RTC Project, families are matched with a state-funded residential placement for their child or adolescent while maintaining full custody and rights as a parent or guardian. At the RTC, children and adolescents participate in intensive mental health services such as individual, family and group therapy. While their child or adolescent 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.

Who is Eligible for the RTC Project?

  • Child or adolescent must be a resident of the state of Texas.
  • Child or adolescent must be ages 5–17.
  • Child or adolescent must have a qualifying mental health diagnosis.
  • Child or adolescent must meet the clinical criteria necessary to be in an RTC.
  • Child or adolescent must not be in the custody of DFPS through joint, temporary or permanent managing conservatorship.
  • There are no current concerns of abuse or neglect in the household.
  • Family is at risk of surrendering their parental rights due to the severity of their child or adolescent’s mental health needs.
  • Family is willing and able to support the mental health needs of their child or adolescent throughout the RTC treatment process.

What Services do Families Receive?

At the RTC, children and adolescents 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 or adolescent’s insurance. For children and adolescents who are not insured, contact the LMHA or LBHA for information about how the child or adolescent 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 and adolescents. Finding the best RTC facility requires matching each child or adolescent’s individual treatment needs with the therapeutic strengths and specializations of the RTC facility. Contracted RTC providers review each child or adolescent’s application packet to determine whether they can meet the child or adolescent’s treatment needs. The LMHA or LBHA will notify families once a child or adolescent is accepted for admission.

The RTC Project does not guarantee placement. If a child or adolescent’s needs cannot be met through an HHSC-contracted RTC facility, the LMHA or LBHA will notify families of additional community mental health supports. The DFPS case worker may also discuss alternative options the family may be eligible for.

HHSC will only seek 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 or adolescent’s individual needs will determine duration of stay. This is determined in collaboration with the child or adolescent’s clinical team.

How Can I Get Help Through the RTC Project?

All families interested in receiving support through the RTC Project must contact the DFPS Statewide Intake Hotline at 800-252-5400 to begin the process.

Families should mention that they are trying to access residential treatment services through DFPS. The family can also refer to the Diversion RTC Bed Project or the Mental Health Support Protocol.

Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


Find your local mental health authority or local behavioral health authority.