Mental Health


ACS or Children’s Services 
The New York City agency responsible for overseeing and providing services to children and youth in foster care. ACS explains that its mission is "to ensure the safety and well-being of New York City children."

Aging out 
A term used to refer to young people who have reached or are about to reach the age of 21, when they will, except in rare circumstances, be discharged from foster care.

Private, not to be disclosed. What you tell your lawyer or therapist is confidential.

Congregate Care 
A shared living space with staff on-site and access to services.

Agreement or permission.

Crisis Intervention
A service that is provided if a psychiatric emergency occurs and someone needs immediate help.

CUCS or Center for Urban Community Services 
An agency that provides services to adults in need of supportive housing, Case Management, Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), or Supported Employment. For more information, call 212-801-3300 or visit

A term used to describe the set of mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges a person is experiencing.

An assessment completed by a professional for the purpose of recommending services. The three main types of evaluations are psychiatric, psychosocial, and psychological. See p. 5.

Foster Care Agency 
Any agency that has a contract with ACS (Children’s Services) to provide foster care services to children and young adults in New York City. The term foster care agency is used interchangeably with "contract agency," "provider agency," or sometimes simply "the agency."

Home-Based Crisis Intervention or HBCI
A crisis intervention service that is put in place before a crisis occurs. The goal is to help young people stay out of the hospital. A mental health counselor is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and someone will visit the home each week to make sure everything is ok. HBCI can be provided for up to 8 weeks.

Intensive Crisis Stabilization and Treatment or ICST
A crisis intervention service that is similar to HBCI but that lasts for 12 weeks and provides both individual and family therapy and case management services up to 3 times a week. It is only available in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

IQ or Intelligence Quotient 
A measure of intelligence. Testing is required to determine one’s IQ. This testing may be part of a psychological evaluation.

Least Restrictive Placement 
The lowest level of care available to meet one’s needs within the foster care system.

Level of Care – This refers to your placement in foster care, specifically, how structured or restrictive the placement is.

Mental Health
A level of emotional or psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her mental abilities, function in society, and meet the requirements of everyday life.

Mobile Crisis Team or MCT
Teams of mental health professionals that respond immediately to psychiatric emergencies. MCTs serve people of all ages and can be reached by calling 1-800-LIFENET.

OMH or New York State Office of Mental Health
The New York State agency that is responsible for providing and coordinating services for children, youth, and adults with mental health diagnoses. For more information, see

OPWDD or Office for People With Developmental Disabilities
The New York State agency responsible for providing and coordinating services for children, youth, and adults with developmental disabilities. For more information, see

PA or Public Assistance
The cash assistance grant to low income individuals or families that may include Food Stamps and other benefits. PA is often referred to as welfare.

A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders.

A clinical professional who works with patients in a therapeutic way. Psychologists may provide therapy and/or conduct evaluations.

Psychotropic Medication
Any medication that is used to treat a mental health problem and that affects a person’s mind, emotions, and behavior. Psychotropic medications may also be referred to as "psychiatric" or "psychoactive" medications.

Serious Emotional Disturbance or SED 
A psychiatric diagnosis plus either ongoing problems functioning or recent self-harming behavior, psychotic symptoms, behavior that has led to a risk of injury or property damage, or behavior that puts one at risk of being removed from one’s placement. SED only applies to young people under the age of 18.

Serious Mental Illness or SMI
A psychiatric diagnosis plus receiving SSI or SSDI, experiencing ongoing problems functioning, or relying on psychiatric treatment. SMI applies to adults over the age of 18.

Side Effect
An undesired effect resulting from a psychotropic medication. See p. 16.

SSI or Supplemental Security Income
A cash grant for food, clothing, and housing that assists people with certain mental health diagnoses or other disabilities.

State Psychiatric Hospital
A hospital that can provide long-term, intensive mental health treatment. There are three state psychiatric hospitals for children and youth in New York City—Bronx Children’s Psychiatric Center (BCPC), Queens Children’s Psychiatric Center (QCPC), and Brooklyn Children’s Center (BCC).

Supportive Housing 
Affordable housing provided by the government and other organizations for people with mental or physical disabilities. Supportive housing is linked to social and/or medical services that are often provided at the housing site. See pp. 24-25.

Treatment Team 
A team of professionals working together to create and carry out a service plan to help an individual with mental health needs. This service plan may be referred to as a "treatment plan."

Vocational Training
Any career or technical education that is specifically geared toward obtaining a job.