UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Young Adult; Adolescent; Adolescent Health Services; Child; Child Health Services; Mental Disorders; Mental Health Services


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Summary: There has been an increasing emphasis on improving supports to help vulnerable youth transition successfully from adolescence to adulthood. One of the major barriers to providing service continuity during this stage of life is the general practice of dividing mental health services into child/adolescent and adult service systems. This division is typically accompanied by agedefined eligibility or target population definitions, funding of programs that are age-defined, and service approaches that are tailored to the age group served. Those age-defined limits typically occur between ages18 and 21. While having age-tailored services for children, adolescents, and adults should improve the quality of care for those age groups, it often results in the unavailability of appropriate services for the “between” age of transition. In particular, these age-dichotomized practices force a disruption of service because as a result of a change in age, a youth who is receiving services through the child mental health system must leave that system and seek an appropriate one in the adult system. This shift from the child mental health system to the adult system is disruptive to existing therapeutic relationships. This can be very stressful and can ultimately result in a loss of service as a result of eligibility-related issues, covered services, and other factors. The purpose of this project was to provide insight regarding the establishment of pioneering transition programs and to identify processes that others might use to establish pioneering programs in their locales. In this report, pioneering transition programs refers to programs that serve youth continuously across the transition age, without disruption due to age changes. Operationally, this means that all of the pioneering programs described in this report, continuously serve a population from an age that only child/adolescent systems serve to an age that only adult systems serve. All of these programs are at least in part, funded by public mental health budgets. These programs were selected on this basis alone, the quality of the programs was not examined.


Davis, M. (2007). Pioneering Transition Programs: The Establishment of Programs that Span the Ages Served by Child and Adult Mental Health. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Pioneering Transition Programs: The Establishment of Programs that Span the Ages Served by Child and Adult Mental Health