Resources for Foster/Kinship/Adoptive Families

AHCCCS is committed to providing comprehensive, quality health care for children in out-of-home care and residing with licensed, kinship, or adoptive caregivers. Children in out-of-home care are eligible for medical and dental care, inpatient, outpatient, behavioral health, and other services through the Mercy Care Department of Child Safety Comprehensive Health Plan (Mercy Care DCS CHP). Children who have been adopted out of foster care may apply for AHCCCS and enroll in a health plan. For information about health plan enrollment and a list of available health plans, see the Available Health Plans.

How to Access Behavioral Health Services

Services for Children in Foster and Kinship Placements:

Mercy Care DCS CHP is the health plan for Arizona's children and youth placed in out-of-home care.

Foster and kinship placements needing assistance with obtaining services can call Mercy Care DCS CHP member services, representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at 602-212-4983 or 1-833-711-0776 (TTY 711).

The Office of Individual and Family Affairs (OIFA) works to promote resiliency and wellness for members with behavioral health concerns, including youth in foster care as well as youth adopted from the Arizona foster care system. The OIFA office also has one-page empowerment tools to help you navigate behavioral health care needs and advocate for youth.

Jacob’s law establishes timeframes for Behavioral Health appointments:

72 Hours 7 Days 21 Days
The health plan will dispatch an assessment team within:

72 hours after being notified that the child has entered care, or

2 hours after being notified the child has an urgent need.
The health plan must provide an initial evaluation of the child within

7 calendar days

after a referral or request for services.
As a result of the evaluation, if the health plan determines the child needs behavioral health services,

the health plan must provide an initial behavioral health appointment within 21 calendar days.

If recommended services are not initiated within 21 calendar days, the caregiver must notify the behavioral health plan’s Children’s Services Liaison (602-453-8095) and AHCCCS Clinical Resolution Unit (1-800-867-5808). After notification, any AHCCCS registered provider may be seen for the recommended services (even when outside of the health plan’s network).

Additional resources for foster and kinship placements:

Services for Adoptive Children

Children adopted from DCS custody follow the same Medicaid enrollment process as other eligible children. Adoptive parents have a choice of integrated health plans within their geographic area.

For help requesting services, members should call their health plan member number listed on their AHCCCS ID card.

Consent for Behavioral Health Services

Licensed and unlicensed caregivers can consent to most services. Arizona law (A.R.S. 8-514.05(C)) allows foster parents, group home staff, relatives, or other people or agencies where a child is placed to give consent for (a) evaluation and treatment for emergency conditions that are not life threatening and (b) routine medical and dental procedures, including early periodic screening diagnosis and treatment services, and services by health care providers to relieve pain or treat symptoms of common childhood illnesses or conditions.

To ensure timely delivery of services, consent for intake and routine behavioral health services may be obtained from either the foster caregiver as specified in A.RS. 8-514.05 or the DCS Specialist, whomever is available to do so immediately upon request.

AHCCCS and DCS BHS Consent Clarification Letter

Child and Family Team Information

A Child and Family Team (CFT) is developed in situations when children are placed in out-of-home care and residing with licensed, kinship, or adoptive caregivers and enrolled in Arizona’s behavioral health system. The CFT will include a CFT Facilitator who will assist in determining team members and scheduling CFT meetings. Read this CFT Parent/Caregiver Preparation Guide from Family Involvement Center for more information for caregivers and preparing for a CFT appointment.

For more information about Child and Family Teams:

Policy Updates

Administrative Simplification

Under Governor Ducey’s administration, the Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) merged with AHCCCS in order to improve the delivery of behavioral health services. Services for youth in the custody Department of Child Safety (DCS) foster care were integrated effective April 1, 2021 under the single statewide health plan Mercy Care Department of Child Safety Comprehensive Health Plan (Mercy Care DCS CHP) for their physical, behavioral, and dental health care.

Jacob’s Law (HB 2442)

On March 24, 2016 Governor Ducey signed Jacob’s Law, a crucial step forward in addressing the needs of children in out-of-home care. AHCCCS has taken steps to simplify members’ ability to access behavioral health care services, including:

  • Requiring a designated point of contact for all families involved in the DCS system,
  • Clarifying that families can contact Mercy Care DCS CHP or AHCCCS directly anytime for help scheduling an appointment or navigating the healthcare system,
  • Issuing a statement that licensed and unlicensed caregivers can consent to behavioral health services for children in their care,
  • Requiring Mercy Care CHP to form committees to create a pathway for regular communication and feedback from licensed and unlicensed caregivers,
  • Enforcing greater access to care and encouraging families to report providers who indicate they are unable to provide timely access to covered behavioral health services, and
  • Holding ongoing meetings to solicit feedback from stakeholders about how to improve the system.

The AHCCCS OIFA office provides training on Jacob’s Law at regular intervals and by request. To request Jacob’s Law training, please email Cynthia Burr.

Governor Ducey Signs Crucial Legislation for Arizona Foster Children

Statement from AHCCCS Director on Signing of Jacob’s Law

Letter from the Arizona Association of Health Plans

DCS Forms

As part of the requirements for obtaining inpatient assessment and/or treatment for a child in out-of-home care, DCS staff must receive specific written reports from the inpatient psychiatrist, psychologist, or physician. Please share a reminder with your providers of their requirements to complete the attached documents and the timelines outlined in which policy and statute.

These forms are designed to ensure the provider and DCS meet the statutory burden for the court to approve continued inpatient treatment for DCS youth (ARS 8-272 and 8-273).

The following forms (updated September 2022) need to be completed and returned to the assigned DCS Specialist at key points in the process:

For more help contact

Foster Care Specific Reports & Data

Therapeutic Foster Care/Home Care Training to Home Care Client - Analysis and Recommendations

In 2018, Mercer Government Human Services Consulting (Mercer) analyzed the Home Care Training to Home Care Client (HCTC) also known as Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) and published their report:

Therapeutic Foster Care/Home Care Training to Home Care Client - Analysis and Recommendations

In an effort to support youth who need daily behavioral interventions within a licensed family setting, AHCCCS developed a TFC tiered rate structure.The requirements for the provision of care and services to members in TFC are documented in AMPM 320-W Therapeutic Foster Care for Children.

Independent Analysis of an Integrated Health Plan for CMDP

Mercer analyzed the implementation for an integrated health plan for children in foster care in order to identify the operational and ongoing infrastructure requirements of an integrated health plan.

AHCCCS Analysis of an Integrated Health Plan - Revised with ACO Model

Data Dashboard

Behavioral Health Services Report for Individuals in Foster Care

Behavioral Health Services Report for Individuals in Foster Care offers historical data regarding behavioral health service delivery for individuals in Department of Child Safety (DCS) custody.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or comments regarding services for foster/kinship/adoptive families you can contact AHCCCS via email at or by phone at 602-364-4558.

Revised 08/01/2023.