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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Celebrating 75 Years! Learn More >>

Child and Adolescent Services Research Program


The purpose of this program is to develop the knowledge necessary to establish a mental healthcare system that provides sufficient, affordable, and high-quality services to all children, adolescents, and young adults who have, or are at risk for developing, mental illness. The program portfolio includes research designed to improve the content, quality, outcomes, organization, and delivery of mental health services for youth and their families. Funded research projects span multiple sectors and settings in which mental health services are delivered to youth, including schools, primary care, child welfare, juvenile justice, community and faith-based organizations, and mental health specialty care. Top priorities include high-impact research studies that can (a) substantially improve meaningful outcomes; (b) identify mechanisms of improvement; (c) generate results applicable to large numbers of youth; (d) produce models of service delivery appropriate for a range of service settings; (e) reduce the time lag between demonstrated effectiveness and broad public health impact; or (f) rapidly kindle new lines of innovative research. The knowledge generated by this program will aid providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders in optimizing mental health services for children, adolescents, and young adults, as well as help youth and their families in seeking, accessing, and assessing mental health care.

Areas of Emphasis

  • Strategies to rapidly address the unmet mental health needs of children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • Models to accelerate the implementation of evidence-based services for youth within and across service sectors (e.g., specialty care, primary care, schools, criminal justice, child welfare).
  • Sustainability processes for efficient and ongoing assessment, monitoring, and improvement of the accessibility, cost, quality, and outcomes of mental health service delivery for children, adolescents, and young adults in real-world settings.
  • Strategies to increase youth and family engagement in all aspects of care, from early treatment seeking to treatment initiation, screening, and sustained care. .
  • Integration of mental health services across sectors (e.g., specialty care clinics, primary care, education, criminal justice, welfare).
  • Novel approaches to match services to individuals by level of need, preference, and other relevant characteristics and circumstances.
  • Financing to improve equity, quality, and outcomes of mental health care for children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • Measures of outcomes and mediating processes that can be implemented within and across key levels (e.g., client, provider, agency, policy) of the mental health care systems that serve children, adolescents, and young adults.


Mary Acri, Ph.D.
Program Chief