Planning Behavioral Health Services for Teens as They Move Into Adulthood

Early adulthood is a period of significant transition for teenagers. Older teens are beginning to mature and build the skills they’ll need to start jobs and families as they navigate the world on their own. Planning for this transition will help adolescents develop positive social patterns, personal responsibility, and problem-solving skills so that they become self-sufficient and independent adults.

For AHCCCS members who receive behavioral health services, this planning typically begins around age 16. At age 18, members must sign a document acknowledging their responsibilities as an adult who receives behavioral health treatment. See AHCCCS Medical Policy Manual 587 - Transition to Adulthood for more information.

Help Your Teenager Prepare for Adulthood

Family members, caregivers, and guardians can play a large part in a teen’s life during this time. Here are some ways to help your teenager prepare for adulthood:

  • Provide opportunities for your teen to build self-advocacy skills
  • Encourage teens to be active participants in their service planning meetings with their Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings. Teach them to ask questions, identify goals, and choose the topics to be addressed,
  • Teach teens to make and keep their doctor appointments,
  • Ask teens to learn the names of their medications and the purpose of each
  • Help teens understand the role and purpose of each professional on their treatment team,
  • Help teens participate in developing their Independent Service Plan (ISP) and understand how it helps to meet their health care needs.

Your focus should be on teaching self-advocacy skills. If the teen will be his or her own guardian, teach him or her to speak on their own behalf, ask questions, and follow through. . The sooner teens learn these skills, the more successful they will be in early adulthood.

Teens should be coached and empowered to direct their own recovery and advocate for themselves.. Family members and guardians can help teens create a list of questions to ask, and coach on how to get answers.

Things You Should Know About Navigating The Behavioral Health System

  • Integrated Service Plans (ISP) outline treatment and include covered services, community resources, the member’s goals, and what natural supports will be used to achieve those goals.
  • When you and your service planning team make changes to your ISP, your service planning team should give you a copy of the revised plan.
  • Members of the CFT are expected to treat teens and their families with respect and recognize that they are the experts in directing their own lives.
  • Service providers are expected to be respectful of the family’s culture and ensure the services and treatment align with the family’s cultural values and beliefs.
  • To help families navigate the health care system, Family Support and/or Peer Support Services are available to all families receiving behavioral services.
  • Your Child and Family Team should include natural supports. These can be friends, extended family, coaches, church members, or any other trusted person.
  • Adolescents may request to keep their current CFT until age 21.
  • Adolescent Substance Treatment Programs

Other Resources

Program/Resource Description Age
587 - Transition to Adulthood AHCCCS policy related to youth transitioning to adulthood 14-21
AHCCCS Medical Policy Manual 520 - Member Transitions AHCCCS policy related to the care and coordination of all members during transitions 14-21
Program/Resource Description Age
Apply for AHCCCS Medical Assistance/Kids Care Information, links and process for applying for AHCCCS services. All
KidsCare - Arizona’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) AHCCCS offers health insurance through KidsCare for eligible children (under age 19) who are not eligible for other AHCCCS health insurance. For those who qualify, there are monthly premiums. Under age 19
AzEIP - Program Information The Arizona Early Intervention Program is the statewide system of support and services for families of children, birth to three, with disabilities or developmental delays. 0-3
AzEIP - Referral Application Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) online referral application. 0-3
Program/Resource Description Age
ADHS Women’s and Children’s Health Collection of information and resources for women, children, oral health, injury prevention and more. All
ADHS Tobacco & Chronic Disease Information and resources related to quitting tobacco and vape. All
ADHS Youth Community Resources A youth-centered website, providing all of Arizona’s Youth reliable access to a range of resources by linking individuals to vital, relevant health and human services in their respective communities. All
ADHS Adolescent Health Teen pregnancy prevention, bullying prevention, and youth community resources. All
Program/Resource Description Age
AHCCCS - Resources for members with Autism Spectrum Disorder Resources, charts, information and much more related to members with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). All
Arizona Department of Economic Security; Division of Developmental Disabilities The Department of Economic Security (DES) Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) provides services to individuals with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. The services are based on age and specific eligibility based on federal requirements and referral/application processes. All
Youth with I/DD Transitioning to Adulthood English / Spanish Tip sheet providing information for youth with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) that are transitioning to adulthood. 14-21
ADHS Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs have, or are at increased risk for, a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally. All
Program/Resource Description Age
Mental Health Block Grant Funds (MHBG) "MHBG covers Behavioral Health Services for uninsured or underinsured Children with serious emotional disturbance (SED) This includes persons up to age 18 who have diagnosable behavioral, mental, or emotional issues (as defined by the DSM). Their condition results in a functional impairment that substantially interferes with, or limits, a child’s role or functioning in family, school, or community activities. This funding can also be used for First Episode Psychosis (FEP)." 0-18
AHCCCS - Behavioral Health in Schools Schools can make referrals to Behavioral Health providers. 4-21
Children’s Behavioral Health Services Fund (Jake’s Law) (aka Behavioral Health in Schools English Informational sheet on accessing behavioral health services in scools. 4-21
Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Determination Solari Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Determination. 17.5 and older
Program/Resource Description Age
Crisis Services Contact information for all of the crisis lines available throughout Arizona. All
Teen Lifeline Teen peer counseling crisis hotline. 13-18
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for all Arizonans. All
Program/Resource Description Age
Medical Coverage for Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care English / Spanish Information for youth in Arizona foster care who are transitioning to adulthood. 14-21
Resources for Foster/kinship/Adoptive families Information, resources, policy and data for the foster/kinship/adoptive community. All
Program/Resource Description Age
OIFA Empowerment Tools The OIFA Empowerment Tools are easy to use fliers focused on important ideas and covered services. You can view these empowerment tools directly from the web page, download, print and share with others to help navigate behavioral health care needs and advocate for you and your family. All
2-1-1 Arizona Searchable database for Arizona resources (e.g., services, food, rent & utility assistance, etc.) All
Family Run Organizations See the “Credentialed Parent/Family Support Provider” section All
Program/Resource Description Age
One n Ten (1N10) Supporters of LGBTQIA+. Housing and workforce programs, youth programs, and support for family members. 14-24
Homeless Youth Connection HYC serves homeless youth (youth are without a stable home and homeless through no fault or choice of their own) who attend high school in Maricopa County and Coconino County, AZ. Each youth is identified by their school as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act. HYC offer a Host Family program for housing. 13-21
Native American Connections Helps homeless youth transition from homelessness to greater independence and housing stability. HomeBase (Emergency Shelter) and Saguaro Ki (Transitional Housing) are both located in central Phoenix. 18-24
Tucson/Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness (TPCH) TPCH works to prevent homelessness for youth in the Tucson/Pima area, and provides access to many resources. Up to 24
Child Crisis Arizona Child Crisis Arizona operates the only licensed Emergency Children’s Shelter facility for children ages 2 through 10 in Maricopa County. The shelter is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round. 2-10
Community Bridges Provides youth-specific mental health and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment in Mesa and Payson. All
Program/Resource Description Age
Arizona Department of Education Mental health and wellness information and resources All
AHCCCS - Behavioral Health in Schools Schools can make referrals to Behavioral Health providers. 4-21
Children’s Behavioral Health Services Fund (Jake’s Law) (aka Behavioral Health in Schools English Informational sheet on accessing behavioral health services in schools. 5-18
Program/Resource Description Age
Arizona At Work Statewide workforce development network that provides services and resources to pursue employment opportunities. 16+
DB101 Arizona - Youth Disability benefits information for youth and parents All
AHCCCS Freedom to Work AHCCCS Insurance for qualified individuals who are workign and have a disability. 16-65


Direct questions for AHCCCS to the following email addresses:

The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is committed to ensuring the availability of timely, quality behavioral health care. If you or a loved one are enrolled in AHCCCS and are unable to access behavioral health services, or if you have a concern about the quality of care, please call the Member Services for the RBHA serving your area. If you have questions, or are still unable to access services, please call AHCCCS Clinical Resolution Unit at 602-364-4558, 1-800-867-5808, or email