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​MH/ID Program FAQ

Mental Health Program

How do I access Mental Health services in Dauphin County?
Click here to go to How to Access Mental Health Services in Dauphin County

Is there a cost for mental health services?

If you have insurance, there may be no cost for services because the insurance pays for the entire cost OR you may have a co-pay or deductible, which you are responsible for paying when you receive services covered under your insurance program.

If you have no insurance, you must have an intake at the Case Management Unit (CMU) to determine eligibility, financial liability, and service needs.  A financial liability is a determination about your ability to share the costs of mental health services.  Click here to go to the CMU website and learn about the intake appointment, where to go get an intake and what materials you need to bring with you for an intake appointment.  All case management services at the CMU are free.

Why does the CMU require that I apply for Medical Assistance through the County Assistance Office for myself or my child?

Individual and family participation is needed at every step to the mental health system. Part of the CMU intake appointment is a financial liability. In the financial liability process at the CMU, you will be documenting family income, assets and outstanding bills.  This is intended to determine fairly if you should pay a portion of the cost for any mental health treatment you or your family member receives.  In that process, the CMU may learn that you may qualify for Medical Assistance, a federal and state physical health and mental health insurance program operated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the County Assistance Office.  You apply at their office located at 2432 N. 7th Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110-0959. If you are eligible, this insurance may cover the costs of treatment and transportation to treatment as well as your physical health care costs.

The County mental health system is required to work with you to explore all options to pay for mental health treatment and the CMU will ask you to apply for Medical Assistance insurance at the CAO and report to them your eligibility within the first 60 days after your intake appointment.  Failure to apply will impact your costs for mental health services in the County system.

Learn more about Medical Assistance/ACCESS from the State at the Department of Public Welfare’s website

If you qualify for Medical Assistance insurance, you are required to document your on-going eligibility every six (6) months with the County Assistance Office.  Please keep your Mental Health case manager informed about your status.  You can be liable for treatment costs if you do not keep eligibility up-to-date and you lose insurance coverage.  If you lose eligibility for medical assistance, contact your MH case manager immediately about your status and continuation of your treatment services.

Why do many children seeking mental health services need to apply for Medical Assistance?

Most individuals qualify for Medical Assistance based upon their income or family income.  At the present time, the rules for children in Pennsylvania are somewhat different.  They might be able to qualify as a family of one and be approved based upon the seriousness of their mental health problem.  If you have documentation from a psychological or psychiatric evaluation on your child that they have a serious emotional disturbance, which will require treatment over a time period of time and the “disability” impacts their functioning at home, school and in the community, your child may qualify for Medical Assistance insurance in their name only.  If your child needs mental health treatment and has no insurance coverage or has limited insurance coverage, this is worth exploring because most all mental health services for children are Medical Assistance covered.

Once your child has become eligible for Medical Assistance, your child will become a Member at CBHNP (Community Behavioral Healthcare Network of Pennsylvania) a managed care behavioral health organization.  They will assign a clinical care manager to assist you in using their provider network, and if you also have a mental health case manager, they will provide added support to you and your family. 

What are representative payee services?
The Representative Payee program is a service of the CMU for person with a serious mental illness who, by their choice or due to the recommendation of their psychiatrist, needs assistance managing their income, typically Social Security income.  Through the representative payee program at the CMU, you will participate annually in a spending plan or budget.  The program will pay your bills for living expenses and assist you with setting up a burial plan. The program must allow you a specific portion of your income for personal expenses of your choice.  Representative payee services may also charge a monthly fee to you for this service.  Designation of representative payee services is a determination of the Social Security Administration.  To learn more about the representative payee services contact the Social Security Administration or check the CMU website at


How can I get help resolving a problem with the representative payee program at the CMU?
Contact your mental health case manager at any one of the following agencies that you are receiving case management services from:

  • CMU (For any type of MH case management services)   717/ 232-8761
  • Keystone Intensive Case Management      717/ 558-8540
  • Northwestern Human Services (ACT Team)      717/ 238-8852 

They can work with you to resolve the problem you are experiencing working with you, CMU, SSA and the County MH office.

Does the County Mental health system provide transportation?
Your ability to independently use public transportation is a good recovery goal.  Your mental health case manager and mental health treatment provider can help to achieve that goal.

Before that becomes a reality, there are some limited options for getting transportation assistance to needed mental health services.  Your mental health case manager or service provider can help you explore the best options available to you.

If you live on a fixed bus route for CAT (Capital Area Transit), you may be eligible for a bus pass to get to and from mental health treatment appointments.  Learn more about transportation services at CAT’s website 

If you have an ACCESS card, your mental health case manager may assist you with using medical assistance benefits for mental health treatment appointments either with a bus pass or door-to-door service through the Share-A-Ride program.  You can explore those option by contacting the Center For Community Building Inc. at (717) 232-9880.

If you have no insurance, the County has limited funds to purchase bus passes or pay for Share-A-Ride services.  The priority is for persons who need transportation for treatment services.
Rehabilitation and support programs also have limited County transportation funds to assist people using their services.  Work closely with your mental health case manager and social rehabilitation provider to explore transportation options. 

Mobility training to use CAT fixed bus routes is available from most mental health service providers.  Use of public transportation is an important part of independence.  No funds are available for funding transportation to employment.

Does Dauphin County’s mental health system provide housing?

The Dauphin County mental health system does not provide housing.  We do have residential programs for persons that require clinical support.  As few as two hundred persons out of over 4,000 persons in treatment per year receive supervised residential services through the Dauphin County mental health system.  Since these resources are very costly, only the most clinically neediest are considered appropriate, and there are waiting lists for all programs.  Residential programs include a room & board costs for the adult individual.  All residential programs have specific eligibility criteria and requirements.  As a person develops psychiatric stability through a recovery plan, they transition to less supervised settings with the goal of independent living.  All residential programs in Dauphin County are transitional living; not permanent living arrangements.

Housing support to live in the community in your leased or owned residence is available.  This service is called Supportive Living. The agency providers will develop a plan with you to support you living in the community as independently as possible.  There is no cost for the support service if you are enrolled with the CMU in the public mental health system, but you are responsible for all your living expenses, including rent and utilities and you are the lease holder.  Your mental health case manager can refer you to Supportive Living services.

The Dauphin County provider network works with private landlords, the City of Harrisburg Housing Authority and County of Dauphin Housing Authority to identify public housing options for persons with serious mental illness.  We have a joint project with the County of Dauphin Housing Authority called Shelter Plus Care.  These are set aside vouchers for HUD Section 8 Housing for persons with a history of homelessness and mental illness.  Documentation is required of homelessness, eligibility under federal HUD Section 8 rules and a commitment to on-going mental health services is required.

Mental health case management agencies are knowledgeable about emergency, short-term and permanent housing options in Dauphin County. 


Can a child age 14 and older refuse mental health services?
The teen years are already a turbulent period of change developmentally in family relationships; exploring new roles and behaviors in social settings.  Yet, in Pennsylvania the age of consent for mental health treatment is 14, so persons age 14 and older may consent to or refuse mental health treatment.  Persons of any age in a crisis should be immediately referred to Crisis Intervention services at 232-7511 with the support of a responsible adult or other party.  Persons of any age can also call for help in a crisis. For any child or teen, Crisis will seek out family involvement in addressing crises with children under the age of 18 if an adult or family member is not already involved. 
Most mental health services are voluntary because an individual is experiencing problems in their daily routine, in relationships with others or just doesn’t feel like themselves.  They identify or are being told they or their behavior has recently had a negative impact in other settings, such as at home, school or work, or in the community.   Identifying your own needs or problems is an important step in making changes for the better. 
The key to engaging young people in treatment is finding a responsible adult the teen can trust. Learning about and understanding how they are feeling about themselves, how they feel about their relationships with family, school and in the community is part of the process of identifying problems and addressing them.  The next critical step is exploring their interest in doing something that may improve how they feel about themselves and their positive connectedness to family, school and community is the next step.  The process of engaging in treatment takes time and the commitment of responsible adults concerned about a child’s welfare.
Stigma associated with mental illness and serious emotional disturbance is real.  Among adults and children, only 15-20% of persons who could benefit from treatment seek help.  Frequently, problems are much worse when persons decide to seek professional help.  Professional interventions can help alleviate mental health concerns.

Treatment providers attempt to engage teens and their family in receiving services jointly.  When a person of any age needs involuntary treatment, crisis intervention staff or any existing mental health professional are good resources in seeking assistance.  

What is respite care and why does it help support families?
Families with continuous care responsibilities for children, teens and adult with a serious mental illness or severe emotional disturbance have benefited from planned breaks from those responsibilities.  Frequently, families’ resources and their support network are stretched and the costs and time associated with taking a break don’t happen.  Planned respite care can help caregivers renew themselves with private time or time with other family members and know their child or family member is being cared for.  Some families no longer have other family members or neighbors they can call upon to assist them.
Respite care providers are contracted directed through the County (county funded) or through a respite care management service operated by Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.  (funded with Medicaid reinvestment funds).  Learn more about respite resources when you speak to your Mental Health case manager.  Respite is a good break for the entire family and we will work with you to address your concerns in using respite care services.
Intellectual Disabilities Program
Who Can I Contact for Help?
To find out if you or your family can receive services, we first need to determine if the person meets the eligibility requirements established by Pennsylvania’s Office of Developmental Services.  To start the process, contact:
CMU, Dauphin County’s Supports Coordination Organization at 717-232.8761 or

Ask for the Intellectual Disabilities Intake Department.  They will arrange to meet with you and your family member to complete an intake and registration.

Walk-in registrations are also available Monday through Friday 8 – 3 p.m.

They will assist you in establishing eligibility for ID services.

You can also visit the Department of Welfare (DPW) website and register online.  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Application for Social Services (COMPASS) at
If eligible for ID services, how do I access funding?
If you are eligible for ID services, a Supports Coordinator will assist you in navigating the system.  (Check out the CMU’s website for additional information about Supports Coordination Services at You will meet with your Supports Coordinator to develop an individualized plan, called an ISP (Individualized Service Plan). 

What is an Individual Support Plan (ISP)?
The Individual Support Plan (ISP) process helps to identify your needs. Your Supports Coordinator will discuss the types of supports and services that may be available to help with those needs.
  • Supports and services can come from many sources;
  • Family, friends, neighbors and other informal supports.
  • Faith communities, community resources, non-profit organizations and other generic supports.
  • Formal supports/services provided with funding through the Office of Developmental Programs.
Your Supports Coordinator will help to locate, coordinate and monitor the supports and services that you need.

There are times when your Supports Coordinator cannot arrange formal supports and services immediately due to the lack of available funding through the Office of Developmental Programs. When this happens, your Supports Coordinator will assist you to complete the PUNS (Priority of Urgency of Need for Services)…This document records your unmet service need. It will help your Supports Coordinator and County ID Program understand and plan for your needs. The county and the state use the information to create their upcoming annual budgets and service plans. It also tells the Office of Developmental Programs the types of supports people are waiting for in each county and identifies gaps in services and supports in specific areas.
What services and supports are available?
  • Employment services can help a person find a job or learn skills right on the job.
  • Community residential options include group homes, single apartments with a roommate, or a family living setting.
  • Find out more about Life Sharing here: Life Sharing Video
  • People are provided supports in their family home or their own home.
  • Day services and recreation are provided to people who live in residential settings and at home.
  • A wide array of services and supports are also available to families caring for a child or adult sibling with an intellectual disability. 
Early Intervention Program
How do I receive information about Early Intervention Services or make a referral to Early Intervention?
Parents who have questions about their child's development may contact the CMU at (717) 441-7034.  The CMU will assist families in locating resources and providing information regarding child development for children ages birth to age 3. 

What Children Are Eligible?
Children from birth to age 3 who have special needs due to developmental delays and disabilities are eligible to receive Early Intervention services.

What Services are Provided to Meet the Developmental Needs of a Child?
The services provided to children and their families differ based upon the individual needs and strengths of each child and the child's family.  Services include parent education, support services, developmental therapies and other family-centered services that assist in child development and may be included in a family's Early Intervention program.  

Early Intervention promotes collaboration among parents, service providers and other important people in the child’s life to enhance the child’s development and support the needs of the family.

Where do Children and Their Families Receive Services?
Services may be provided in the child's home, child care center, nursery school, play group, Head Start program, or other settings familiar to the family.  Early Intervention provides supports and services in a variety of settings.  Early Intervention supports and services are embedded in typical routines and activities, within the family, community and/or early care and education settings.  This approach provides frequent, meaningful practice and skill building opportunities.

What is the Cost for Services?
Early Intervention services are provided at no cost to families.
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