Referral Process

About Referrals

Referrals to the Families First Project can come from within the department, schools, and the community. Due to the many needs of families already involved with the department, the program will only be able to accept 20% of its referrals from schools and community (children not already involved with the Department of Human Services).

The referring source should include all documents pertaining to the referral for review. This would include psychological evaluations, court reports, and any material relating to mental health, family or social history. Referrals cannot be accepted without appropriate documentation.

Please refer to the list below when making a referral. It outlines the Criteria to identify Children meeting the Severe Emotional Disability standards. This will help you to determine if the child is appropriate for our program or not.


Child must meet the following criteria for referral:

  • Under 21 years of age.
  • Emotional disability lasting at least 6 months.
  • Expectation that the disability will persist at least one year or longer.
  • Diagnosed with an emotional or behavioral problem that fits a DSM IV disorder.
  • Child shows either symptoms or functional impairments in one of the various categories.
  • Child is in two of the service delivery systems mentioned (with the exception of anorexia nervosa who may only be involved in one of the systems).
  • In addition, the child should be at severe risk of being hospitalized in a psychiatric institution or be at severe risk of being placed out of the home.

If the child meets all of the above criteria but has not yet been diagnosed, it is appropriate to send the referral to the program. The Families First Project may elect to have the child diagnosed as part of the screening process.