Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Our Mission and Vision:

Every individual served by the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service system will have the opportunity for growth, recovery and inclusion in their community, have access to culturally competent services and supports of their choice, and enjoy a quality of life that includes family members and friends.

Our Goals:

Transform the children’s behavioral health system to a system that is family driven and youth guided.
Implement services and policies to support recovery and resiliency in the adult behavioral health system
Assure that behavioral health services and supports recognize and accommodate the unique needs of older adults.

Our Guiding Principles:
The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service System will provide quality services and supports that:

  • Facilitate recovery for adults and resiliency for children;
  • Are responsive to individuals’ unique strengths and needs throughout their lives;
  • Focus on prevention and early intervention;
  • Recognize, respect and accommodate differences as they relate to culture/ethnicity/race, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation;
  • Ensure individual human rights and eliminate discrimination and stigma;
  • Are provided in a comprehensive array by unifying programs and funding that build on natural and community supports unique to each individual and family;
  • Are developed, monitored and evaluated in partnership with consumers, families and advocates;
  • Represent collaboration with other agencies and service systems.

Our Regional Offices

Deputy Secretary's Office
717-787-6443

Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health Services

The mission of the Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health Services is to promote the emotional wellbeing 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 guided.

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 Positve 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:
  • In the child welfare system
  • In, or at risk of entering, the juvenile justice system
  • In the drug and alcohol system
  • With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  • Who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
  • With traumatic brain injury
  • With Autism Spectrum Disorder or other Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • With physical disabilities
  • At risk for suicide

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 Institue 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, and working with the OMHSAS Children’s Advisory Committee, family and youth advocates, as well as state and local child serving systems.

Bureau Organization

Division of Operations and Service Delivery: responsible for working with the OMHSAS Field Offices, County IDD Programs, Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations and provider agencies in the development and management of children’s behavioral health services


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

Shannon Fagan, Director
P. O. Box 2675
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675

Receptionist: 717-705-8289
Fax: 717-705-8268